Codemasters delivers their best F1 outing to date in F1 2016, taking the series to new heights across the board. An expanded career mode injects life back into the racing games fans having been waiting on for years.
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: August 19th, 2016
Racing games are ultimately judged on their playability and realism. Fortunately for F1 fans, Codemasters has gotten both right with their 2016 release. F1 2016 centers around the return of the career mode. This style centers somewhere between the classic sports career progression story and the WWE-style rivalries.
At the start players are prompted to customize their driver and select which team they wish to join. Each of the eleven racing teams have different expectations and the urgency in which they must be met based on their current prestige in real life. Knowing that the F1 circuits would be new to me, I decided to play it safe, plan for a long build and join one of the smaller teams.
Outside of the track, the clubhouse and your laptop are your main interfaces. At the clubhouse you’ll meet your new agent and the head of research and design for your team. Both simply give game expectation information in avatar form, and do not offer player choices or interaction with either. Your laptop contains car setup information, career progression, and statistics about the current championship.
On track realism is at its height in F1 2016. The team has Codemasters has continued to perfect the level of detail across the board. Outside of actually becoming an F1 racer, 2016 is the closest thing to being in the car. The helmet view takes you right into the thick of the action, forcing players to use their mirrors and game-assists to determine where other cars are located.
Video presentation prior to the start of each race weekend, between practices and prior the green flag have all been thoroughly researched to make the player feel a part of the action. The realistic nature is taken to the extreme during races in the rain. Instead of a steady rain, conditions change as you hit various parts of the track open to different wind conditions and turns. Most impressively though is the water accumulation on the helmet, giving players a look into the struggle real-life racers face as they attempt to slow from 140 to 20 mph with rain blocking half their view.
The on-track audio (vehicles and environment) hit the level one would expect after seeing the graphics. Adding the communication through the player’s remote is a nice touch, while also increasing the difficulty by making them focus on listening to two devices at once. However, F1 2016 could look to a fellow global game, FIFA, to curate a soundtrack for time spent on game menus and car setup.
After completing one race players will quickly see the level of difficulty present in F1 2016. As a fan of NASCAR and Mario Kart games, F1 2016 provides fans with a full racing experience while also pushing their skill level to new heights. There are no shells to stop your opponents, the game is not designed to force the last place racer to move faster as in Mario Kart, and every turn is different – right, left, wide, or hairpin.
The career mode has returned this game to the top tier of sports titles, and allows Codemasters to build improvements throughout the rest of this console generation.
Jumping straight into the career mode I was quickly brought back down to earth. Thinking I could power my way through everyone, I hit the wall twice, struggled to keep steady in the turns and finished next to last. However, Codemasters has included a series of game assists that allow the player to get a hang of the car style, track difficulty and importance of avoiding contact, while focusing on the shifting and brake support.
F1 2016 offers players two in-depth practices sessions before hitting the track for qualifying. Each session helps players figure out the variances in car setup and tire types. Taking even a few practice laps to learn the track and the turn types has massive benefit for qualifying and the actual race. After a few practice sessions, I was able to win two races in the next few weekends. F1 2016 is set up to give you all the tools you need to get the pole and win the race, but requires you to have discipline on the track and keep your car safe.
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Two areas that the game can improve on for next year is online play and tutorials. F1 2016 offers a 22-car mutiplayer feature, but requires that the player purchase an online subscription like Playstation Plus. Adding free online play and the ability to search and find your friends would help boost the long-term playability. In-game tutorials are mainly short videos rather than instructional skill modules intended to teach new players key skills such as the dynamic racing line and in-game assists.
While both of these are noticeably missing, they do not take away from an overall fantastic racing game. The career mode has returned this game to the top tier of sports titles, and allows Codemasters to build improvements throughout the rest of this console generation.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.