Codemasters’ F1 2015 is the first entry in the series to be released on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Boasting a new game engine built from the ground up for the latest consoles and PCs, is this the Formula One game that we have been waiting for?
Since Codemasters won the rights to create Formula One games back in 2009 the series has lost its shine a bit, the developers falling into the same sort of rut that faces many outfits tasked with yearly iterations of the same sports franchises.
Last year’s last-gen and PC only F1 2014 was a by-the-number-affair, capable but delivering little more than the previous year’s entry. The Codies promised that the 2015 edition would pull out all the stops for the new-gen.
Firing up F1 2015 for the first time you can’t not be impressed with the new graphics engine. Gone are the over-saturated colours that betray the visuals as being from a game. Everything looks very real, from a quick glance you could be forgiven for mistaking the game for a TV broadcast.
And that is exactly the sort of look that they have gone for.
The game is presented in a full-on TV coverage-style that really works. We are treated to realistic and informative commentary, animated race-prep footage direct from the garages and full introductions to each event.
The game lets you chose from the 2014 or 2015 season. Given that the current 2015 season is still underway, the developers have promised free digital updates to the game, reflecting the real championship events.
As you’d expect the F1 2015 has all your usual race modes: Championship Season, Pro Season (with no race assists and a mandatory cockpit view), Quick Race, Multiplayer and Time Trial. There are enough options to allow players to choose from a quick time trial practice lap to a fully championship season of race weekends.
Whether you pick events from the 2014 or the 2015 season, there are nineteen circuits to choose from. The 2014 has Germany’s Hockenheimring whereas the 2015 season replaces the German GP with the Mexican GP at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
All the circuits are an absolute delight to race on. The game’s next-gen visuals really do well to show off some of the astounding architecture of the more modern world-class circuits.
F1 2015 is hands-down the most beautiful-looking entry in the season yet. But the improvements don’t just stop there. The whole racing experience has been refined. On the track the cars feel solid and the game provides a breath-taking sense of speed.
The little touches are all there as well- with the best animated pits crews that I’ve ever seen prepping your car in such a way that you can actually see what they are doing, like warming the tyres and refuelling. The developer’s attention to detail, like the way that the cars now produce a heat haze give the game a bit of increased realism.
On PS4 the engineer provides feedback during races via radio that actually uses the tiny speaker in the controller, which is a nice touch. This time out, the engineer really seems on the ball giving advice on the status of your machine that actually matters like tyre wear and fuel levels.
Switching from PS4 controller to the Thrustmaster T300 racing wheel was a sublime experience. Don’t get me wrong the PS4 controller is perfect for the game, but the wheel really drives home just how realistic the game is. Delicately powering off as I adjusted the turn around the spiral twists of the Chinese circuit was a delight only matched by catapulting my car into the straight.
The only downside of using the wheel, and Xbox One owners may experience this as well, is that the engineer’s voice, instead of coming out of the PS4 controller’s speaker, is mixed in with the rest of the game’s audio making in difficult to hear.
F1 2015 is probably the best Formula One racing game that I’ve ever played. It’s fast, fun and great-looking. But all this goodness is overshadowed by the game’s sometime skittish framerate, an issue that is absolutely inexcusable. It’s a shame as well, because for the most part the game is hitting a very impressive 60fps. It’s those odd, and seemingly random slow-downs in some races that let the game down.
As framerate issues go, in F1 2015 they don’t really affect the gameplay. I must say that it didn’t really bother me at all, and I can be funny about such things. It may be because I was otherwise enjoying myself too much. But it is an issue, and I can see some players seething over it. Hopefully they manage to patch the problem out in the coming weeks, as it’s not a good look for a new next-gen racing engine to suffer from framerate issues.
Ordinarily I’d be recommending F1 2015 for the awesome Formula One game that it is. This year’s game is a major step forward from previous iterations, in features, style and presentation. However, I do feel the need to hold back the score (which would have been an easy 9/10) due to the inconsistent framerate during some races.
F1 2015 may not be the Formula One game that we’ve been waiting for just yet, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.