It seems that Codemasters is making a triumphant return to the racing games of yore, dropping the party game modes and celebrity voice-overs from their last iteration of games and focussing back on what it’s all about - rubber meeting tarmac.
F1 2015 is Codemasters’ first outing on the current gen, having held back GRID Autosport citing concerns that they wouldn't have been able to make the game they wanted to deliver at that point. Firing it up, you’re given the choice between the 2014 season and the 2015 - depending on what you want to do. I jumped for the 2015 season and got to racing. If there’s one thing this title does, it’s that - gets you racing as soon as possible. There’s no over-the-top character creation where you get to deliberate over the exact angle of the drivers nose or the distance between their eyes; after all, it’s going to be hidden by a helmet for the majority of the game and there’s little in the way of additional “fluff”. That is to say there’s not much in the way of additional game modes. You get career, quick-race, online and time trial.
Career mode is quite an involved affair than your more casual racer too. To complete a race weekend, you’ll be taking part in practice and qualifying sessions, leading to the actual race, which - at it’s shortest setting is usually around about 15 laps. You can expect to be putting in about 30 minutes per weekend. It’s refreshing to see a developer tackle the core elements needed for the game without feeling the need to tack-on silly extras for the more casual crowd.
However, those who aren't die-hard racing aficionados will still find options for driving to make sure that they can still get round the tracks in one piece, as well as the ability to turn it all off and go for the most difficult experience. The AI opponents are brutal too, giving you a fighting challenge for positions. There were a couple of brief situations where the they were perhaps unfair, seemingly without penalty too. A couple of nudges that had me spinning out of control were frustrating, but not common enough that it became anything more than ‘in-the-moment’ fury.
Codemasters has done an excellent job on the sound too, managing to capture the utterly flat and lifeless engines of the current season. Without their screaming engines, F1 cars don’t seem to capture the same excitement as they have in prior years, though I digress, as this isn't an issue with the game.
Graphically, the game looks great, having taken and polished the work they've already done from previous iterations of the F1 franchise. Presumably, there was a bit of work involved in the assets for the newest generation of consoles to enjoy, though it seems like there may have been a couple of places where it could have been optimised better. For example, flying down the main straight in the first race in Melbourne, there was a clear drop in frame-rate. Codies were aiming for a 60fps experience with this title, but it seems that it’s just out of their reach for now.
So the gameplay is fun and enjoyable, the audio is well done and the graphics are a sight to behold. All that remains is controls. My first blast with F1 2015 was with the controller, mostly to check it had installed okay - nothing particular to report, it all handled as well as it was supposed to. I also spent a good while playing F1 2015 with the Thrustmaster TX too. It was a game-changing experience with the wheel, as you get a much greater degree of accuracy, allowing you to take the larger sweeping corners with greater ease and the game takes on new life when played in this way.
F1 2015 (Reviewed on Xbox One)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Codemasters’ latest F1 title may be construed as feeling a little rushed - perhaps pushed out from under the rug as the team focus production on DiRT Rally, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had in this title, even if it’s not a whole world of difference from the previous outings and the brief frame-rate issues.