F1 2011 Preview

Tough benchmark

As the sequel to the BAFTA award-winning sports game that stormed the racing genre last year, Codemasters' F1 2011 has a lot to live up to. The studio could simply have fine-tuned a winning formula by updating the cars and drivers to match the current F1 season's and still had a great game on its hands but, refreshingly, it looks to have done a whole lot more.

F1 2011 features plenty of tweaks and additions including an enhanced damage system and improved handling and visuals, but the biggest difference will be felt in the title's multiplayer modes, the area in which racing specialist Codemasters feels the last game fell a little short.

Take the race online

To boost its multiplayer feature set competitive online racing has been extended, with 16 players now going head-to-head in Grand Prix events with up to an additional eight computer controlled drivers to simulate a full F1 grid of 24 cars. Two player split-screen play, another much-requested feature, also makes an appearance, allowing you and a friend to play simultaneously on one TV.

Arguably the best addition though is a new co-op mode that lets you and a buddy race in the same F1 team throughout an entire season. Even though you're acting as team-mates, the fact that ultimately only one of you can be the star of the show looks set to give proceedings a really competitive edge.

Star faces

Of course, it wouldn't be an officially licensed game without a great commitment to authenticity. F1 2011 will feature all of the drivers and teams contesting the current F1 Championship, plus each of the circuits, including two new ones in the form of India's Buddh International and Germany's Nurburging, taking the total number of race venues to 19.

F1 nuts will be happy to hear that the game introduces features like the Drag Reduction System, which lets drivers adjust the rear wing on the car to give them a boost of up to 10km. while KERS also returns, giving players an extra 80BHP for up to 6.67 seconds, enabling drivers to blast past rivals.

Other additions will help the average gamer get around the track more efficiently. Cosmetic touch-ups mean you'll now be able to see when you need to get your tyres changed simply by looking at the condition they're in during a race, while the engineer's voice you hear over your car radio will be much more informative this time round, giving you a better idea about what's happening on the rest of the track to aid your strategy.

Winning formula

The game handles and looks better than its predecessor too. The steering is less sensitive and twitchy due to revised suspension and tyre technology that makes the cars more forgiving, while a day/night cycle, a new lighting system, improved background scenery and great weather effects combine to deliver significant visual improvements.

Codemasters could have rested on its laurels by simply re-skinning the basics of last year game to suit 2011's season line-up, but instead it has chosen to expand its horizons. We've yet to play the finished article, but the game looks like it is addressing criticisms from serious F1 fans and more casual gamers alike, a move that's likely to see it emerge as a strong contender in the racing and wider sports genre again this year.

Preview by: Tom 'Pole Position' Ivan
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Release date: 09.09.2011
Preview Published: 17.08.11

SKU: Previews-148356
Release Date: 02/09/2011