While the 1 F2014 World Championship is drawing to a close, literally dominated by the two Mercedes-Benz drivers - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg - vying for the title, Codemasters, as per tradition, launches the official driving simulator dedicated to it, arrived at the fifth iteration since the British software house, in 2008, bought the prestigious license. Improved year after year, as we specified in our recent preview, with this chapter the series has reached a peculiar turning point, for two main reasons: on the one hand we have the radical change in the technical regulation of the discipline, defined by the experts as the more "important in the last 60 years", on the other hand the consolidated presence of next-gen consoles, which has pushed the developers to create a completely new product and whose debut is scheduled for March next year. F1 2014 therefore represents the last chapter expressly designed for the so-called old generation (it will not be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) and, although future versions of the game are also conceivable for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 - considering the enormous installed base of console - there is no doubt that production is about to evolve under a new guise, necessary due to the limits accrued by the tested Ego Engine. Waiting to know the details on this new version, completely shrouded in mystery and finally scheduled to accompany the start of the next world championship, we plunged into the analysis of the definitive version of F1 2014 for PC; these are our impressions after many hours of driving.
With F1 2014, one era comes to an end as Codemasters prepares to open another
The first detail that fans of the series will notice in this new chapter is the suppression of the so-called tests for young drivers, which, as happened for the real competition, have been replaced by generic tests that the teams can hold on certain days of the year. .
The removal of free tests, for some years now, is one of the most criticized and debated topics ever in Formula One circles, given that for the experts, many drivers - especially young ones - for this reason do not they are at ease, for example, driving in the rain, consequently catalyzing the risk of serious accidents in the same way as that which occurred to the unfortunate Jules Bianchi at Suzuka in Japan, although other factors have intervened in this case. These generic tests, referred to in the game as "Assessment Tests", were an opportunity for Codemasters to introduce a start-up test that can be called up in the career menu, the purpose of which is to evaluate the player's driving skills and suggest, at the end of the session, the level of difficulty and other parameters capable of personalizing the experience. Recall that Codemasters, in the official release of the title presentation, announced the introduction of the new "very easy" difficulty level, designed for casual players and for those who complained about the complexity of the title even by selecting the lowest level of challenge. Don't think about a casual production drift, however, since by eliminating all driving aids and setting a suitable difficulty level, F1 2014 represents the classic solid simulation - but not pure - which we are used to, despite some "licenses" which we will talk about later. It is simply a question of expanding the market share, making the product attractive even to F1 fans who are not really skilled virtual drivers. A choice not to blame, given the fierce competition for racing games in this fantastic autumn / winter 2014 season, the prohibitive cost of the official F1 license and, last but not least, a videogame market which, despite the good results achieved by some software and hardware, however, is suffering from the pangs of the economic crisis. Once the player's skill level has been determined, who can still ignore the advice of the evaluation test, he is projected into the main menu of the game, where it is possible to access the various modes and adjust numerous settings.
The main modality, as per tradition, is represented by the long Career, which this year - at least in our review code - it is possible to undertake starting with any team, rather than being forced to select one of the "poorest" teams (such as Marussia or the Catheram), to then arouse the interest of those more and more prestigious obtaining good results on the track. Once the team has been selected, among other things associated with a further specific level of difficulty (Mercedes-Benz, for example, represent the easy, Williams the intermediate and the Lotus the difficult), we start as a second guide and access the usual pre-session menu in classic Codemasters style: here we find the inevitable Career Center with the seasonal calendar and the statistics relating to your driver, the area dedicated to emails where managers, engineers and personal agents leave us various information, news, driver and manufacturer rankings and, of course, the settings.
The latter are very detailed and give the possibility to choose, for example, the level of participation, i.e. whether to face a long weekend with complete qualifications or maybe a short weekend with immediate qualifications, the race distance (25%, 50% or 100% of the laps actually planned) and the activation or not of the so-called closed park. As for the difficulty, beyond the parameters that affect the gameplay, which we will discuss in the next paragraph, the simulation settings allow you to adjust the flags (realistic, reduced or related only to the cutting of the curves), the assistance to stop, the level of difficulty of artificial intelligence - from amateur to legend - and the inevitable flashbacks, the hallmark of Codemasters products that has also taken hold in other driving titles, such as the two Forza series of Turn 10 and PlayGround Games . Once the Grand Prix has started, we find ourselves projected into the classic pre-race menu, where, inside the car and in front of a monitor, by turning our head we can make choices relating to the set-up or tires, speed up qualifying time or dedicate ourselves to Research and Development sessions, which through specific tests on the track - how to maintain the trajectory or a certain average speed - allow you to obtain advantages for your car over the course of the season. Everything is presented exactly as in past years, both from a stylistic and content point of view, and fans will immediately find themselves at ease. The 2014 season, now at sunset, was long and exciting, and in the Codemasters title we will find all the specificities that are still characterizing it: among the most interesting innovations there are obviously the rookie circuits of Spielberg (Austria) and the Russian one of Sochi, built around the park of the recent Winter Olympics, the fascinating night race in Bahrain - to celebrate 10 years in Formula One - and the return of the highly technical German Hockeneimring, absent from the 2012 calendar. main are the classic custom Grand Prix, the Championship Challenge that projects the player into 10 events where to achieve certain objectives, the aforementioned Evaluation Test, the multiplayer component (Lan, online and split screen for two players) and the rich Banco di trial. In it you can access the classic challenges of the Scenario mode, where you can relive 20 key events of the current season - organized in four groups of increasing difficulty - and the Controtempo and Time Trial modes, in which obviously challenge the stopwatch and compete against the inevitable ghosts. In short, as you may have guessed it is the usual dish that is very rich, solid and that will keep you busy for a long time, at least until the debut of the highly anticipated next-gen chapter scheduled for spring next year. Unfortunately, the exciting and fascinating Classic mode that embellished the 2013 chapter is missing, but the significant changes that have taken place in the technical regulation of the discipline have forced the developers to focus exclusively on the new cars.
As already widely specified, the innovations introduced in this year's Formula One - not without controversy - have been so sensitive as to be defined as "epochal" for the history of this sport, affecting the heart, appearance, sound and above all behavior of the cars. From this point of view, a commendable job has been done by the British developers, who, despite having kept the technical-content component of the work practically unchanged, have made the greatest changes in terms of gameplay. The new turbo-electric V6s replacing the old naturally aspirated V8s, in fact, due to the monstrous maximum torque, the almost total absence of electronic aids (beyond the brake-by-wire technology on brake control) and the automation of the kinetic energy recovery system (the old KERS, renamed to ERS-K), have made the new incredibly nervous single-seaters, with decidedly more complex driving dynamics than in the past, even in the game with the same virtual electronic aids implemented.
Making direct comparisons on the track with F1 2013, it is evident the tendency of the new cars to oversteer and violently "smack" out of the corners, forcing the player to constantly balance and recover the very fast and exuberant vehicle. Of course, we are not faced with a pure simulation as the mod dedicated to F1 downloadable for Assetto Corsa can be, supported by the valuable driving model shaped by Kunos Simulations, however the behavior of the cars keeps the player under constant pressure and guarantees hours and hours of healthy fun, both for the Sunday driver and for the most uncompromising enthusiast, thanks to the remarkable scalability. The damage system of the cars is still perplexing, in which it is practically impossible to perceive the limits and dynamics of breakage of elements such as suspensions and nose, influenced more by fate than by rigorous mathematical algorithms. Beyond this historical defect, however, there are various types of faults, an excellent tire wear system, the possibility of adjusting the mixture to provide more or less power to the car, pit stops, the DRS system and much more. ; elements that affect the solidity and completeness of the Codemasters work. The flagship of the production, once again, is the fabulous dynamic weather, capable of literally distorting the outcome of a race and triggering the whirlwind of pit stops, as well as profoundly influencing the behavior of the cars and visibility. In the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, for example, in the last laps we were caught in the act by a violent downpour after having "sailed" under a constant drizzle with intermediate tires: unlike other riders, we decided to continue with the tires already fitted rather than equipping the wet ones, a disastrous choice in terms of lost times and positions on the finish line, a symptom of the excellent attention to detail by the developers. The driving experience, of course, changes exponentially by playing with a joypad or a steering wheel: we carried out the various tests with a professional peripheral (the Thustmasters TX Ferrari 458 Italia Edition) and the result was definitely appreciable, especially by eliminating ABS, power brakes, power steering and adjusting the traction control to intermediate. In fact, by removing it completely, the driving model becomes extremely complex and many hours of practice and millimeter knowledge of the circuits are required to better tame your car. Excellent and aggressive, as always, artificial intelligence, capable of surprising the player with manual maneuvers and overtaking, as well as making the various competitions coherent and exciting.
- The editorial team uses the ASUS CG8250 Personal Computer
- Intel Core i7 3770K processor
- 16 GB of RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 video card
- Windows 7 operating system
- Processore Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4Ghz o AMD Athlon X2 5400+
- Scheda video AMD HD2600 o NVIDIA Geforce 8600
- 10 GB of free disk space
- Intel Core i7 or AMD FX Series processor
- AMD HD6000 series or Nvidia GTX500 series video card with 1GB RAM
From a purely technical point of view, Codemasters' work is practically a copy and paste of the previous version, where the versatile graphic engine Ego Engine, now evidently pushed to its limits - starting from the basics of the old console generation - still offers an enjoyable and above all fluid visual experience.
With our test configuration, F1 2014 is in fact nailed to 60 frames per second at Ultra level of detail and in 1080p, giving the best of itself, as usual, during the pouring downpours, where the dynamic weather of Codemasters represents a ' absolute excellence in the world videogame panorama. Beyond the new cars and the new circuits, among which the Sochi one should be mentioned for the attention to detail, we are faced with a product that is completely similar to the previous iteration: not all textures are of good quality and leave a lot above all the models of the staff and drivers are desired, both from the point of view of the animations and for the aesthetic result, while the various architectural structures that surround the circuits are generally bare, net of some appreciable exceptions. The lighting system is excellent except in night races, while the reflections are a little too accentuated on the liveries of the cars, whose polygonal models, although faithful reproductions of the real ones - well proportioned and rich in detail - are a couple of steps away. behind the production values achieved in the most modern driving simulators. There is no doubt that on a technical level a significant leap forward is expected in the first next-gen chapter of the series, which fortunately will not be long in coming. The audio sector is also good, although the new turbo-electric engines do not have a properly pleasant or vigorous sound and can give some problems to the gear change, especially at the start. As we pointed out in the preview, the new sound effects relating to the contact of the tires with the asphalt must certainly be praised, now much more varied and realistic than in the past. We close the technical picture by mentioning the sector multiplayer, currently animated only by insiders but still solid, stable and fun as per tradition: to underline the possibility to play in two with the shared screen and to play the championship in cooperative, as well as the usual and complete support for the Racenet social platform.
Although from a technical and content point of view it is completely similar to the previous chapter, beyond the removal of the classic component and the updating of circuits and cars, F1 2014 is a rather different work from the 2013 iteration, thanks to the sensitive changes made to the technical regulation that Codemasters has been able to grasp and successfully translate into driving dynamics. The main difference concerns the gameplay, where the new single-seaters with turbo-electric engine are decidedly more nervous and difficult to control than in the past, giving great satisfaction to the most passionate players without, however, giving up considerable scalability. Solid, fun and rich, the Codemasters title is a good product to spend time with, before diving into the highly anticipated virtual Formula One revolution coming next year.
- Renewed and more complex gameplay
- Cars, circuits and technical regulations of 2014
- Solid, scalable and rich in content
- Dynamic weather always fabulous
- Damage system still incomplete
- Technically it's a copy and paste of the previous iteration
- Classic component removed