F1 2016: The F1 Game We Have Been Waiting For

When I reviewed last year’s F1 Game, I was surprised at how far the game had come from the previous year, 2014, but was disappointed by the lack of a real career and how the engine felt during races. A solid effort, but hamstrung by time and dealing with new hardware. All of that came together to make sure that I spent less time with 2015 than I had ever spent with an F1 game. I had no idea what to expect from 2016 before I got my hands on it, but now that I have spent a solid amount of time with the game, I can attest at just how far this series has come in a year. 
After the highs of 2012 and 2013 Codemaster’s F1 games fell off the quality cliff in a big way. 2014 was a terrible attempt at making an aging engine tackle the new V6 Turbo cars, and it played like it. 2015 was a new engine on the newest hardware but was lacking in most of the features that we were used to having in the F1 series. So when I first loaded up F1 2016 I immediately noticed a new level of polish that suggested that the team finally had all the time they needed to make an F1 game that can stand out against the niche of being “Just an F1 game.”
There are plenty of games that have F1 cars simulated as perfectly as they can. But none of them can capture the whole experience and glitz of a Formula 1 race. None get the beats of the weekend and race right, from strategy, to the new manual starts, to dealing with rivals and your teammate. You can simulate an entire race weekend in real time, or pick and choose how long you want your race weekend to be. The new career mode has some nice voice acting and RPG elements, and with 10 seasons available more than makes up for the lack of the mode in last year’s game.

The new features of the game are also welcome additions, like full safety car, formation laps, and the all important manual start. Getting the feel of the start of an F1 race down completely really helps sell the whole experience. Getting the timing down of releasing the clutch with the lights is tricky as hell, and I found myself jumping or missing the start more often than not. That’s not a complaint, just an observation of how difficult getting the perfect start can be. The formation lap is also fun, but I found myself turning it off after a while. Oh, and if you don’t like dealing with the manual start you can turn that off as well.
There are plenty of options here for all sorts of players to tune the game to. But that is also where my main complaint about the game comes in. With so many different difficulty and gameplay options, finding the exact right mix is often impossible. For example, when trying to tune my career to my play style, I have found that while medium AI is a bit too slow, anything hire will leave me in last every time. And while simulation damage is always fun, I found myself rage quitting Monaco after the 11,000th time I barely brushed a wall to find my wheel being shorn off. There is no happy medium, but it was never bad enough to have me quitting the game forever.

And on that note, I have to reach my final thesis about this game. I think this is the F1 game that is finally good enough to bring in a much broader audience than any other iteration of this series. It’s up there with the best racing games on the market, and has enough to attract any player. Getting to race the entire F1 calendar with the amount of realism that the Codemaster’s engine can provide is a real treat, and is good enough to make you feel like a rockstar when you land an amazing lap, or make an amazing overtake. There might be only 22 F1 drivers in the world currently, but this game takes us closer than any before into sliding into those carbon cockpits. It’s a damn good racing game, and the best F1 game Codemasters has ever made. I can’t recommend this game enough.
[Disclaimer: I was provided a review code for the game, and all of the assets used were provided by Codemasters]

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  1. HuntRhymesWith Avatar

    I am disappointed with Assetto Corsa on PS4. It doesn’t look as real or feel as exciting. I understand people praise the handling model in AC for being more “realistic”, but the best thing about Project Cars is how it conveys the sensation of speed: the first person camera pulls back in the seat, and the vision blurs as you accelerate. How does F1 2016 convey speed?

    1. Patrick Hoffstetter Avatar

      It doesn’t do the blur effects that Project cars has, but it also doesn’t feel like you are sitting still.

  2. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
    Dean Bigglesworth

    So what you’re saying is that F1 games have improved since the last time I played one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrurD6Ol-FM

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      Come on, there is only one game in town.