In recent years, the Formula One games have always been close to be great, but for various reasons they would just fall short. With F1 2016, it feels like Codemasters have had time to put more effort into their career mode. Last years effort only allowed you to play as a current driver, but this year you can create your own avatar. Once you have added your personal details and chosen the avatar that looks most like yourself you can choose a team to start with. Rather than heading to the top of the pack I opted for stint with McClaren Honda, replacing Jenson button.
At this point you meet your agent who will tell you about the objectives you need to meet at each race, as well helping you with new contracts with the same, or other teams. You manage your career through your laptop, you can see information about the upcoming race ,your stats, a trophy room as well as tutorials introducing some of the new features in the game, which I’ll talk about later. The main section on your laptop is Research and Development, everything you do, whether it’s practice laps, qualifying or racing, will earn your resource points that can be put towards making improvements to your car. It will take a while to upgrade everything but it’s a good extra to the game. One way of earning points is by meeting test objectives during practice sessions. You’ll learn to manage yor tyres around a circuit, as well as trying to hit various gates to practice your racing line. Scoring well will add extra resource points to your pot.
As always the game allows you to customise a whole host of options such as assists, vehicle damage and even the difficulty of the AI.F! 2016 introduces the formation lap for the first time in an F1 game, you don’t have to take part in them but if you wan the full experience there is no harm. Currently you can’t drive the car right up to your grid position but that would be a nice feature in the future. Another new feature to the race is the manual start, which requires you to hold down the clutch while hitting the required amount of revs. When the lights go off you need to release the clutch and hope you don’t stall. It’s a great new feature which is all down to timing, go too early and you’ll receive a drive through penalty, letting go too late might cause you to stall and lose you precious places.
The racing, as it has been over the past few years, is excellent the AI drivers are great to compete against, especially at the higher difficulties. The controls are pretty much the same as last year, but the HUD has had a revamp, using the B button allows you to cycle through various diagnostics, such as tyre wear and temperature, while LB opens radio communications between you and your team. From here you can use the D-Pad to select an option or use Kinect to talk to the team directly. You can ask about Weather updates, race updates and even confirm suggested changes to your pit strategy. The pit team can sometimes come in with useful suggestions, especially when the weather begins to change, but it hasn’t stopped them from suggesting a pit stop on the final lap. Talking of pits, the manual pit entry is also back, another opportunity to make a mistake and lose more time on the tracks.
The more you play F1 2016, the more you realise how much was missing from last years title, Safety Cars are now in the game, as is the Virtual Safety Car, both adding a welcome dynamic to the game, if you are leading a race this can be a real hindrance as it allows your opponents to catch up to you before the safety cars goes back in, it’s a great game of cat and mouse. There is so much to manage during the race, most importantly your tyres. This year you can really notice when you are on the wrong tyres or when they begin to wear, your grip goes just as your fast times round the laps.
If you are a racing fan, you’ll notice the tension between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In your F1 2016 career you’ll take part in different rivalries. You each earn marks for achieving certain achievements. Things like qualifying above your rival, or posting faster sector scores during a race. The first driver to 30 points will win the rivalry. It would be great if the rivalries had some greater depth to them so hopefully that’s something we’ll see improve in F1 2017.
Away from the hugely improved Career mode is a standard championship, where you just play as one driver on one team for as long as you wish. There are also Time Trials and of course Multiplayer. It’s a shame you can’t co-op a championship as it’s surely something fans would like to see, I know I would. I was surprised at how well online worked, there still seemed to be some players that were able to cut corners with out penalties but generally my experience online was good. Getting a team of you together to play an Onlinr Championship will be a lot of fun.
F1 2016 was without it issues, the presentation as ever was superb, but yet again the huge amount of screen tearing on the Xbox One was a let down. As I mentioned before, the AI was weird at times but you could really see how far the game has come on in the last year.