F1 2014 Review (Xbox 360)
Codemasters had a monumental task with F1 2014, nobody can deny that. Massive changes to the sports rules and regulations saw big changes to the car designs. Driver moves happened in almost every team and brand new circuits were added to the season calendar. You can easily see why a new generation of consoles wasn’t added to the challenge list for the F1 2014 team. However, it may be a decision they are left to rue.
F1 2014 aims to be the most accessible F1 game to date, and it hits the nail on the head here. Even though the Very Easy mode may be slightly insulting, it will allow any fan of Formula One the opportunity to experience the sport they love in the closest way possible. Jumping into the game for the first time you are presented with the driver challenge. Pick a starting difficulty level then off you go on a single lap around the Italian F1 track, Monza. After the lap the game will suggest a difficulty level based on your performance and you can carry on to the game from here. You can also run the test again at this new difficulty level, and for the more experienced racing simulator fan the difficulty settings can be fine tuned to fit their style perfectly. This is an absolute essential part of the game as it sets up how you will experience the rest of your time in F1 2014, and it will make the difference between competitive racing and lonely driving.
Another feature Codemasters have added to the game to make it not only more accessible but to keep fans engaged potentially for longer is added the option to cut down the length of the season in career mode. You can of course still play the full 19 race season, but you can also chose shorter options of 12 or just 7 race seasons. This will allow players to experience the end of a season more regularly, be offered new contracts and get a sense of progression a lot quicker than was previously possible.
For an even faster pace career type mode is the Season Challenge. Here you will pick a starting team based on the difficulty level that you have selected. The season is set to 10 races and even if you start in a lower team your objective is to finished as high as possible, or even win, the drivers championship. The way you do this here is by selecting a rival that you will pit yourself against in each race. Beat him in two out of three races and you will be made an offer by his team to replace him. By being smart you can not only work your way up the drivers standings, but you can potentially put your main championship rival into a much weaker team than the one he’s driving in. This entire game mode is a bit more fast paced with one shot qualifying and 5 lap races. Perfect for a bit of pick up and play racing.
The biggest factor in F1 games is the car. No other motorsport has the same level of speed and finesse as Formula One, but the new cars this year are Turbocharged beasts. In F1 2014 you can really feel the power in these new engines as they growl at you the second you put the accelerator down. Driving along at high speeds you get this lovely two-tone sound of the growl of the engine and the whine of the turbocharger. Put your foot down too hard out of the corner and you can feel the torque kicking the rear end out of the car. It’s a delight to play with and to listen to.
The tire setups are also greatly improved over last years game. You really can notice a difference between the prime and the options tires in each race, and having a different strategy to your opponents gives you that exciting hit or miss feeling. Finishing those last few laps hunting down the race leader while you are on the faster tire gives you such a thrill. You will also see a lot of nice effects happening on the tires such as blistering, picking up marbles if you run off the race line, and of course the inevitable puncture or two.
Graphically however F1 2014 suffers from being stuck on the last generation of consoles, particularly when we have new generation racing games such as Forza Horizon 2 and Drive Club out just now. The circuits are produced in magnificent detail, however a few noticeable corners have been cut on the Xbox 360 version of the game. If I’ve made your mind up and you have the choice between the console and the PC version of F1 2014, then I would recommend the PC version for that little step up in visual quality that you will find. Fortunately for Codemasters, F1 2015 will be coming to the new generation of consoles, and we should expect a big step up in visual quality come that time.
F1 2014 may have some graphical flaws, but it’s a fantastic game. Possibly the best F1 game of recent times thanks to the radical changes to the sport itself and the ease of access F1 2014 has to players. The shorter seasons will keep players engaged for longer, and the season challenge offers that slightly more arcade feel for those who aren’t big into the full race weekend set up. Even multiplayer isn’t the mess that you would expect it to be, with the engine gracefully handling a number of human drivers condensed into a potentially chaotic first corner. If anything though, the multiplayer shows just how good the AI in the game really is as the multiplayer is where you are most likely to experience lonely racing.
4.5 thousandths split out of 5