Straight off the bat, I’ll speak about the biggest change in my opinion in this year’s F1 instalment.  As with any seasonal game whether it be motor racing, football or American football you will get to kick things off from that current year.  However with F1 2015 not only do you get to play the 2015 season with stats and abilities based upon the season prior, but you also get to play the 2014 season.  So if you wanted to play as Sebastian Vettel driving for the Infiniti Red Bull team in 2014, rather than his current team Ferrari in 2015, then you have the choice to do so.

Another welcomed change in my opinion is how much the gameplay and AI has improved, which has saved me a lot of frustration in comparison to previous instalments.  The last time I played an F1 game was F1 2013 and the most frustrating moment for me was the very first corner from the starting grid.  You always knew it was going to happen, cars clamber to get passed one another on the first corner and you will inevitably lock wheels with another car putting you at the very back of the pack.  Yes I know this happens in real life F1, but it seemed to happen far more frequently in the videogame then its real-life counterpart.  This would cause you to hit restart or utilise the Flashback function to no end.  And yes, you can say “get good”, but there’s only so much you can do against a pre-programmed AI that seemed to have no acknowledgement of your very existence on the track.

However now during my many hours of playing F1 2015, I think I’ve only had to restart the race once or twice on that dreaded first corner and I don’t necessarily believe this is down to how the game handles, but more so with the improved AI.  In F1 2015, much like Project Cars, if you approach an AI car, if they can, they will subtly try to avoid making contact with you, they now act like they’re aware on your very existence on the track…finally.  The improved AI has also saved me being docked points or time deducted for incidents that were out of my control.  Again I refer back to when I last played an F1 game, when it used to cause me all sorts of rage when a car would suddenly halt in-front of me and worse, bump into the back of my car and as a consequence I would be penalised, yet the AI driver seemingly avoided any kind of punishment.  In F1 2015 I can honestly say that these incidents have not happened to me once, which is an absolute godsend and as a result, the game is far more enjoyable then I can ever remember, and with the exception of F1 2014, I’ve played every F1 outing from Codemasters.

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As you can imagine, the F1 series is not your usual boy-racer type games and they do require discipline and strategy, and it’s one of the few racing games that I can accept when I don’t finish 1st.  Sometimes it’s not about winning that particular race, but rather finishing the race to get some respectable points on the board.  The term “fight to live another day” springs to mind, not that you can die in F1 2015 of course.  What I mean by this is that sometimes you’ve got to accept that you might not win this one, but you have to do your utmost best to at least get a podium finish.

During one race the weather started out dry, but as I got to about 70% through the race the rain started to really pour down.  The problem I had here is that I had just made a pit-stop and changed my tyres, which were certainly not suitable for a wet track.  But I knew if I made another pit-stop to change my tyres again so soon after, I would practically have no chance of finishing on the podium.  So instead I tried to last as long as I could with my unsuitable tyres while the rain continued to pour down.

By the time I got to my final three laps, I had gone from 1st to 4th, but now was the time to change my tyres.  Albeit the wet tyres that I had just equipped needed to be warmed up, but there was no real time for that, it was now all or nothing.  So when I made that strategic pit-stop during my last three laps, I raced with the aggression of Michael Schumacher (or so I led myself to believe) and while I only managed to get myself from 4th to 3rd, I’d never been happier to not win a race.  If I kept my delusion of not swapping the tyres when I did, I practically had no chance of even finishing in the top 6.  This is what I love about the F1 series and in particular the 2015 instalment, it’s a game that despite your best efforts, you still might not win a race, but it can still make you feel like a king none the less and not many racing games can have that effect in my opinion.

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As you can see from the various screenshots and trailer in this review, F1 2015 is a very pretty game.  It’s not just pleasing on the eye at quick glance, but it has an unprecedented amount of detail that you would perhaps not see in any other racing game, but this is something that developers Codemasters have been achieving for a number of years.  The cars are all created with the same amount of love and care and it’s so important that the developers get this right, because this series needs to make you feel like you’re an F1 champion by immersing you within its experience as a whole.  The same can also be said for the tracks within the game, I’d go as far as saying that I believe this is the most authentic racing game that I’ve played in a number of years and this will be a huge factor to any F1 fan.

It’s not just the cars and tracks or even the driver likenesses that will help immerse you, because the way the race weekend is presented is like something you would see on your favourite sporting channels.  The way in which the commentators will analyse the upcoming race and qualifying sessions with the all new broadcast mode, with the analysis being presented by Sky Sports F1 team’s David Croft and Anthony Davidson is expertly done.

The audio in F1 2015 is also very well collaborated.  This is something that I bang on about in just about any racing game that I review and that is the sound effects of each and every car, but this is as an important factor as anything else.  Can you imagine the purr and the roar of an F1 car sounding off-key?  It wouldn’t be right; thankfully once again Codemasters get the unmistakable noise of the starting grid down to a T, with the isolated therapeutic sound of the engine as you pull away from the racing pack towards the chequered flag.  In a nutshell you won’t find a more authentic experience in the racing genre as F1 2015 and the word “authentic” could not be more important than it is here.

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However, if the was one thing missing element from this game, then it would be the classic cars that featured in F1 2013.  While it’s certainly not a be all and end all, I absolutely loved driving in Nigel Mansells iconic Williams’s car around Brands Hatch.  But I think it says a lot when that’s the one nit-picky flaw that I can find, but that is by no means a deal breaker, for me at least anyway.  Though in saying that I would love to see classic cars, drivers and tracks return with F1 2016, especially if they can include the late, great Ayrton Senna.

While some may have preferred the more unforgiving F1 2013, in my humble opinion F1 2015 is the best experience that I’ve had with an F1 game in recent years, it’s certainly more accessible.  But don’t let that put you off, because you can make F1 2015 as casual or hardcore as you wish by customising the many available options open to you within game menu systems.  It’s been a while that I’ve played a racing game that offers that “just one more race” feeling, but in F1 2015’s case, it’s more like “just one more race weekend”.  It all comes down to personal preference at the end of the day to which F1 game you prefer, but for me, F1 2015 is the game I’ve been waiting for and I’m very excited for the future of the series.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake