F1 2015 Review (PS4)
Jon Defazio gives us the technical analysis from this years F1 game from Codemasters
Now I know a lot of Formula 1 fans been complaining over the last year about how quiet modern Formula 1 engines are, but after playing the latest F1 installment from Codemasters I’m kinda glad they were silent.
Huh? You might say. Well, give me a chance and I’ll explain.
F1 2015, is the latest installment of the Formula 1 franchise. It is fully licensed with all the correct tracks, drivers, rules and liveries present for the current season, with an option to play using the 2014 season too.
Focusing on the 2015 season,you can choose any of the driver lineup with an accurate and detailed model of each car and driver. This did lead me to a bit of a distraction; every driver looks away and to the side until selected. They look at you when you select them but if you deselect them, they look away shamefully as if they’ve done something wrong. After about 5 mins of selecting and deselecting Kimi Raikkonen and saying; “Aww, Kimi, what’s the matter? keep crashing the car? Everyone else lined up to replace you? Everything bad always happens to your car?” I remembered I had an actual game to review…
So what’s it like to play? Well. There is the usual host of game modes available that allows access to all of the 2014/15 racetracks over a variety of difficulty modes. If you are an actual formula 1 driver or someone who revels in their own absolute, repeated and soul crushing failure, I’d give pro-season a try. If not, good luck… There are a number of modes for the lesser “Driving Gods” to entertain themselves with. You can run a full season as one of the drivers but sadly there isn’t an option to create your own driver and team and run a career as such. It’s a little disappointing but not really a deal breaker.
Speaking of “Driving Gods,” you don’t need to be one to get anywhere in F1 2015. There are a myriad of driver aids that you can adjust to your skill level. When playing a full Season you can also adjust the driver aids between races which comes in handy when you have to tackle…Monaco. Bah! So you can turn off the brake assists and change the driving line assist but a word of warning: I’m normally pro-manual when it comes to driving games, most times I’d recommend you to stop being so damn lazy and change gears yourself. This time, I’d leave it. Shuffling 8 cogs round Monaco is…just …hell. Added into the driver aids is the flashback option on the replays. At any point in the game you can pause and review the race and if you’ve just made a mistake you can engage a flashback to rewind before a crash or mistake to have another stab at it. Don’t get me wrong it is nice to have an Idiot button, one trip round Monaco and I’m sure you’ll agree – unless you turned off the damage ya big cheat…
So, It’s a driving sim. You’ll be wanting some eye candy then. Bad news, there is a distinct lack of pit girls parading up and down the paddock. But lets face it, If that’s the reason you are watching Formula 1 you really need to get a life…
Ok. Everything does look very pretty in it’s Next-Gen shiny goodness. All the tracks have been recreated along with the cars in superb detail. The attention to detail has to be noted. For example, the steering wheels vary from different manufacturers and each one seems faithfully recreated for each team. You even get Anthony Davidson and David Croft thrown in for commentating duties! It seems that they have built up a reasonable size repertoire for the two of them.
One thing that does annoy me though is the general disinterest of the spectators. Granted it has been hard to see them as more than a fleeting glance as you charge past at 200 mph, but when you do see them they all just seem to stand there. Is it too much to ask to add a bit of crowd movement or some more flag waving?
Realism is everything in a good racing sim and it’s not enough for it to just look good, it has to perform on the track too. F1 2015 has a wide array of suitable camera angles, and surprisingly the viewpoint I found myself using most often was the “helmet cam” for all my races. In-car views haven’t always been the most practical to use but I have to say I was impressed by how natural it felt to use. Little touches like the dash light and beep for passing the DRS marker are accurately recreated in-car as well as Jeff.
“Who is Jeff?” I hear you say. Well Jeff is your ever-friendly race engineer who will point things out for you, like how the weather is or how how far ahead you are of the other cars. Jeff also points out that your brakes are too cold and usually waits until you’re about to brake for the hairpin bend before unleashing this useful information upon you. I was about to go on a bit of a moan about this until I remembered several occasions of the real life drivers grumping and moaning about the exact same thing! Poor Jeff. (Jeff was his actual name btw, I think it’s a generic thing as I chose to drive as Valtteri Bottas and his Race Engineer is Jonathan Eddolls, (ta Google!)) Anyway, Jeff does like his random chat. I did love his weather reports at Bahrain – “no chance of rain for now…” Oh really Jeff? funny that as we’re in the middle of the bloody desert! Any chance of snow? Hobbits on the track Jeff? Was that aurora borealis Jeff? Poor Jeff. He tries, but every time I heard his voice pop out the PS4 controller I didn’t know what to expect next.
Now those of you who are a bit anal about their cars (me included here) will be glad to know that you can modify the car setup for each race as well. There is a basic adjustment for the aerodynamics of simply more or less, but if you know your camber from your toe-in and your damper rebounds from your anti-roll bars, you can merrily fiddle about with the car until it is completely and utterly undrivable. If you are a bit on the OCD school of thought you can customise your race setup for each track and save it so you can recall your settings for each individual track. Now I know this is hardly anything new in racing sims, but in a F1 sim it feels important to mention that you could technically ring up Adrian Newey for some useful advice on your setup for Spa. Now I say “could”, his PA was most unhelpful.
So? Was it any good? Yes and No I’m afraid. Oddly enough my gripes aren’t really with the game, it is more to do with F1 itself. Yes there are a few glitches, the marshals like to wave green flags on Loews’ hairpin even though I’m facing the wrong way and the pit crew run out like their doing the Benny Hill theme gag, but these are minor grumbles really. You can get really fun, close racing. You can also get an accurate portrayal of a Formula 1 racing season. Can you get both together? No, not really sadly, and I think the blame does lie more at F1. F1 drivers these days spend an eternity fiddling with all the buttons on the steering wheel, adjusting the brake balance, torque settings on the differential and the engine mapping settings between the corners. I tried to radio Jeff to ask the gap to the car in front, missed the braking point of the corner and slammed into a tire wall. I am not Lewis Hamilton it seems…
F1 2015 does do a good job of balancing out the driver skill levels so that the game is still enjoyable. It is just that modern F1 cars and drivers are so far ahead of what we drive these days it seems hard to get anything near a level of realism without actually having to be a F1 driver. I’d bet the Pro-season difficulty is very close to what they use for the simulation rigs they run at their team headquarters. Does the game deserve to get marked down for not being able to simulate a real F1 season without making you want to gouge your eyes out with a spoon? Probably not. I did have a lot of fun charging around some of the best tracks in the world at a silly speed and feeling like a driving god in the process. Oh yeah, the engine noise thing. Well If you actually heard an old V10 or even the later V8 engines pass you by at trackside they’d make your bloody ears bleed and with F1 not having an accompanying soundtrack for the races I’m kinda glad the new engines are a bit more sedate sounding. After a couple of days listening to Jeff and the engine noise for 4 hours at a time, it was driving me a bit cranky. I even started getting a bit grumpy with poor old Jeff.
Not quite the foregone conclusion that the actual 2015 season looks like it will be (Team Lewis!) but definitely worth playing for even the casual F1 fan.
8 trips to the stewards to moan about they guy at the back of the field not getting out of the way quickly enough out of 10!