PS3, Xbox 360 & PC – Out Oct 17th
It was hard not to tut disapprovingly at Codemasters’ choice to miss the next gen market, groans were heard all over the world, but surely this isn’t a missed opportunity for the masters of the track but more taking advantage of an open playing field.
First off, remove all preconceptions you will have regarding F1 2014 not releasing on next gen, it may not be visually in the same league as Project Cars, but it’s definitely there in other areas. Whereas developers will want to relish in the power that beholds them, this doesn’t come without risks. Impressive graphics are one thing, but it can often take your attention away to hide what lacks beneath it, last year’s Need For Speed is a good example. Codemasters have taken what they know and run away with it and what they have produced is the most realistic and up to date Formula 1 title yet. Just releasing on last gen consoles and PC, F1 2014 is just as present as the TV coverage, new track, new drivers and the latest presentation. The brand new Russia track is ready to roll and even the engines have been tweaked to sound quieter, just as they have introduced to the sport. Bandai Namco told me that every aspect of the visuals from 2013’s effort have been revitalised, bringing more detail onto the vehicles & landscapes and sharper HUD graphics & stabs. To compliment the upgraded visuals the game has a superb sound to it too, the crowd, the birds and the fast approaching Williams behind, this edition brings back what it means to make a successful consistent franchise.
Game modes wise, as well as the inclusion of a multiplayer and career option, players as always, will find the Grand Prix mode, which sees you immerse yourself fully into anyone of the updated track list and race as any driver on the current roster. The latest option a rejuvenated version of the very well received ‘Scenario’ mode, which was introduced late on in the series, gives you even more challenging content to get your teeth into. Spanning across 4 difficulties, Scenario mode sets your goals to complete within a specific time frame or restriction, some are complete make believe, others are based on real events in history. Some of the scenarios only require to complete minor tasks, like overtaking a rival on the last lap or breaking a particular lap time record, whilst others are more challenging, even taking up to an entire Grand Prix to race through before completing. As you can expect, it’s infuriating to put so much time into an objective only to crash at the end and put that last 30 minutes to waste, but you’ll be glad to hear Codemasters have kept in the very handy, yet kinda cheaty, flashback button. Before each scenario you’re presented with an in-game cutscene to set the tone and build-up for each challenge, it’s definitely a way to get you revved and interested in the task, I never before cared for beating Sebastian Vettal on the last lap at Silverstone but the 15 second wrestling-esque promo made me.
The best new feature added to F1 2014 is the new ‘Very Easy’ difficulty, which for me is a great addition. I am by no means the greatest racing driver around, and the only racers I have mastered are Burnout Paradise and Micro Machines V3, so the ability to just jump straight into a new series completely unaware of the controllers and mechanics fills me with confidence. This tweaked difficulty starts you off at the bottom of the scale, making the game easier for you to pick up the basics, and once you find yourself getting better, so does the computer. F1 2014 learns with you and ups the difficulty of your opponents and makes the car more realistic to handle once it feels you’re ready, so after several hours of playing you could find yourself moving up to medium difficulty without even realising; this makes F1 2014 the easiest one yet for newcomers to join in with.
It is a great shame that it’s going to take us another season before we can expect to see an F1 title on PS4 or XBOX ONE, but Codemasters are very well respected entrepreneurs when it comes to critically acclaimed racers, and they are responsible for some of the greatest on the last gen cycle, so I’m confident that this was the right decision some how. F1 fans will rejoice in what has been the most authentic stab in the series yet, every aspect found in 2013 has been improved and modified to please anyone at any level of experience, yet those who wish to ‘keep with the times’ may prefer to wait another 12 months (hopefully). Whereas it may not look to stack against the big 4 driving Sims out late this year, I encourage you to eagerly await this final hurrah in this last generation level of greatness.