In primary school I was a huge Formula 1 fan, huge enough to help maintain our school’s prestigious Formula 1 club. We didn’t congregate and chat about the sport, oh no, our club involved my friend Matt drawing out each track onto the school playground so we could race each other round it, with a beautiful cardboard trophy fashioned in shiny tin foil for the best drivers/sprinters. Arguably 2 seasons too late, Formula 1 finally makes its first pit stop onto Playstation 4 and Xbox One with expectations of being the best entry to date, however it seems instead of rewarding Codemasters with a gold trophy, I’m handing them a cardboard replica covered in gold foil much like I got as a child; sure it looks great but ultimately it’s disappointing, much like F1 2015.
F1 2015 is the latest release of the racing franchise and the 7th entry driven by Codemasters. As well as featuring all the latest roster changes and track additions (including the return of the Mexican Grand Prix circuit), F1 2015 also maintains the 2014 season for you to reflect back on and jumping between the two couldn’t be any easier. As well as it’s huge visual upgrade and providing compatibility with the PS4 and XB1’s voice command functions, F1 2015 also runs on the all new EGO game engine that vastly improves the games physics models which has been a long time coming for the franchise. Alongside the game’s usual batch of championship, time trial and quick race modes, F1 2015 introduces the devilishly difficult Pro Season Mode, which will test the skills and patience of the most diehard of fans and racing aficionados. It’s been a long wait to see the popular motorsport make its appearance on the newest generation of home console, but has that wait been worth it? It’s by far the best looking Formula 1 game to date but as you’ll soon discover, looks aren’t everything.
For fans of the sport and the accompanying games, you’ll quickly realise how skinny the game feels and the features that made the franchise so enjoyable have unfortunately been downsized. In the game’s predecessors it was the ‘Career Mode’ that made the game arguably such a big hit, taking control of a created or personalised driver and following your path through multiple seasons to become a legend. In F1 2015 you can take an existing driver and turn him into a legend, however you only have a single season to achieve that status, which when it ends you’re left wondering whether all that time and effort was worth it. Once you’ve completed your first championship there isn’t really any reason to complete it again, each driver performs the same under your control so there is no variance in difficulty, so I guess the only thing you can attempt to tackle is the new ‘Pro Season’ mode, which will really test your ability. Removing your HUD, assists and turning up everything in your car and your opponent’s car, Pro Season really puts up a challenge that’ll either encourage you to pursue victory or cause you to retire prematurely. It’s a great idea to include a mode aimed at pushing its players to the limit as on the whole F1 2015 isn’t really a challenging title as the game’s AI is remarkably naff and in many regards moronic. Pulling away from the pack from the off will more or less guarantee you a victory as long as you concentrate on what you’re doing. If you do slip down the grid a little you’ll more than likely be rammed off the track and be forced to retire as the computer will do all it can to ram into the back of you, damage your vehicle and then smugly drive off as if nothing happens without so much of a caution or hazard flag. F1 2015’s poor AI fails to remotely challenge you outside of the game’s ‘Pro Season’ mode with the opposition either giving up or viciously taking you out, making the ‘Championship Season’ mode a very underwhelming, frustrating and boring drive. Not being one for multiplayer, I’ve never played a racing game online so I was excited to see how I would fare against the world, or at least I would have liked to if the multiplayer mode actually worked efficiently. In the multiplayer mode you can do 2 things, either host/join a playlist of particular tracks or take part in a special event that ties in with the state of the current televised season, however both of which are difficult to jump into. After a couple of races it was obvious I wasn’t going to find a session with more than 2 player controlled drivers, which makes it not much different to what you’ve been doing offline. The special event/race option too is tricky to get involved in without staring at your screen wondering what’s taking it so long to get going or whether you’re actually in the queue to even play it. In short, F1 2015’s multiplayer mode is missing valuable information and guidance to its players who just want to race competitively online, you’re left in the dark, lost amongst other players who like you have no idea when you’ll be getting on the track.
F1 2015 is, to no surprise, the best and most realistic looking Formula 1 title to date and the jump from the series’ previous entry is huge. No longer does each vehicle look misshaped, the crowd look deformed and the crashes look unsatisfactory, F1 finally takes the form of a respectful looking game worthy to race alongside the sport itself. It’s by no means as visually delicious as Project Cars or Forza, but in comparison to the F1 games from the past it is impressive and definitely a step in the right direction. The game’s weather physics look great, the circuits have been recreated to perfection and each vehicle has been captured beautifully in immaculate detail, which shows how much effort the studio has gone to in bringing the series to this generation of home console and PC. It’s not just visually where F1 has pulled in front of its predecessors, as a new audio addition brings the action even closer to you and your Dualshock 4 as now you can chat with your garage team. During the course of your races, your team of mechanics will update you on the state of your vehicle whether it is the current state of your tyres, the temperature of your brakes or how far you are ahead/behind the competition, which makes for a more personal experience when it reacts to how you are playing. Incorporating both the PS4 and the Xbox One’s voice command, players can also interact with the pit team with a set of keywords which when spoken will update you on the current race and your car, that is if reaching for the D-pad is too difficult for you.
F1 2015 isn’t a bad Formula 1 game however it is by no means the best one. Visually it is impressive and a real joy to see if you’re an avid F1 fan that’s been patiently waiting for the next gen leap, however underneath the lush graphics is a hollow game that seems to have skimped out on key features that has made the franchise such a hit. The ‘Championship Mode’ is a boring and unrewarding alternative to a solid career mode that does nothing to encourage you to see it through to the end and the poor, idiotic AI offers nothing but unchallenging opponents who seem obsessed with ramming you off the track. The new ‘Pro Season’ mode brings genuine difficulty that fans will revel in but sadly the game’s confusing multiplayer mode is incredibly disappointing and frustrating to play. F1 2015 reminds me of WWE 2K15, an impressive looking game that, though poorly received, was a step in the right next gen direction, Codemasters now have the next gen mould for Formula 1 and give them another 12 months we could get the greatest F1 game of all time; if it wasn’t for last year’s trial run I wouldn’t be this majorly excited for WWE 2K16, so I expect the same for F1 2016.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.