Review – F1 2011

F1 2011 has roared into a retail store near you. Should you race for the checkered flag, or just leave this one in the pits? Read our review to find out.

 

 

The Formula 1 gaming license has swapped hands many times over the years and has just recently been introduced to the high def gaming world. Codemasters Birmingham took it over and released F1 2010 to decent reviews. While it was a nice Formula 1 introduction to next gen gaming, it did have its share of glitches and issues. F1 2011 aims to squash all of the bugs and wants you to have a great racing experience.

 

The game is clearly a racing simulator and not an arcade racer. Codemasters wanted to create as much realism in how the cars handled and included both the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) and the DRS (Drag Reduction System) to enhance the cars. Both systems are based on real world technology and can give you both a higher top end by reducing drag and a short burst of speed by recycling your kinetic energy. Both systems are limited in racing situations, but are available at all times in practice and in qualifying. Learning how to use them effectively can be key to both getting the Pole Position in qualifying, and keeping the lead during the race.

Offline graphics for the game are top notch. The cars are very detailed and you can see the suspension moving perfectly in replays. The tracks are well detailed and look amazing. Weather effects are a great addition to any sim racer, and F1 2011 does a great job with it. Driving in the rain requires a totally different approach to handling the car and the track. The car needs to be adjusted and fitted with the proper tires. Changing weather takes this to an even tougher level. The spray from the cars, and even the tracks the tires leave in the road are both detailed nicely. The online graphics are a little scaled down and don’t look as sharp, but they aren’t hard on the eyes either.

Racing in the Rain

The Ethiad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the perfect example of how the game can change during a race. With a full day/night transition which recreates the special atmosphere at this unique track, you’ll have to change your strategies as the race progresses. New atmospheric effects, including dynamic clouds, compliment a weather system which features an advanced rain model that affects on-track grip.

The cars all handle similarly at first, but each car is fully customizable. You can adjust everything from the aerodynamics of the car to the suspension. Each change can alter how the car handles, and how the car reacts to the track. Higher top ends can be reached by adjusting the gear box, but beware of other things that might take a hit like acceleration. Lowering the downforce can also increase your top end, but can make going into a corner at high speed a tricky proposition.

The game gives you four gaming areas to choose from. To get a good feel for the game you may want to start out in the Proving Grounds. Here you can try Time Trial or Time Attack. In Time Trial you select from one of the twelve cars and then select which track you want to try. You can select from all 19 tracks from the beginning, so no need to unlock any of them. Ghost cars are a great way to learn the nuances of each track and you can download the best times from the online leaderboard and see which racing lines they used on the track. You can also upload your own times and see how you stack up against everyone else.

 

Time Attack mode gives you six different scenarios to test your skills. Want to see how the cars handle in the rain? Try the very first scenario. Want to test your skills in Monza and beat the CPU’s track record? Give scenario 2 a try. Each scenario awards either a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal depending on what your lap times are.

Career mode will have you selecting a team to sign with and introduces you to your driving engineer. This guy will be talking to you through your headset while in races, and lets you know how you are doing time wise through sections of tracks, and how your car is holding up. He will also give weather reports and let you know when you need to hit the pits. Tire wear is visible and your Pirellis have to be watched like a hawk.

Career Mode also introduces you to the race weekend. You can have a short weekend or a long weekend. A short weekend will give you one practice session and one qualifying session followed by your actual race. For your first race weekend, you may want to opt for the long weekend and that will give you three sessions for practicing and three for qualifying. As in real life, your starting position on the grid is determined by your qualifying sessions. Practice is key to a great simulation game, and in F1 2011 practice is key if you want to win. A performance upgrade system has been created that awards you when you complete specific challenges. Want to unlock the movable rear wing? Beat the targeted lap time and it will become available. Career mode will have you starting out as a rookie, and earning your way into, hopefully, your team’s top spot.

 

 

Grand Prix mode allows you to pick a current team and driver and customize a series of races. There are a total of 12 teams and 24 drivers to choose from. Grand Prix mode allows you to add any combination of tracks to your series, or you can add the entire Formula 1 season. You can set how much time you want to spend altogether by adjusting each race distance. This can go from a one lap race all the way up to 100% of a race, which for tracks like Monza you’ll be going 53 laps. You can see how much total time it will take to run your Grand Prix, so if you have a set amount of time to kill, you can adjust the race accordingly. Pretty nice feature. You can also set the weather to your liking for each track, or just set it the same for all tracks. From clear skies to heavy rain, it’s up to you.

Multiplayer has more focus this year with split screen racing now added and a new online Co-op Championship mode. This co-op mode will allow you and an online friend to work together and compete against the CPU in a full Formula 1 season. There’s also an online Grand Prix mode so you can set up your races however you wish. Quick Match is available if you just want to jump into a quick random online race. Finding a random race online is fast, but quite often we ran into rooms where it seemed more like a crash-em-up derby and less like a Formula 1 race. Finding like minded racers will make for a better online experience, as it is with most online games.

F1 2011 takes up where Codemasters left off with their 2010 release. Previous bugs and glitches were addressed and the game runs very smooth. With full licensing in use, they were able to recreate every aspect of Formula 1 racing right down to the sponsor’s decals. This isn’t a kiddie’s arcade racer. This is an adults Formula 1 Simulator. Well done Codemasters.

Gentleman, start your engines.

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