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12/01/2011

REVIEW: F1 2011 (Xbox 360)




F1 2011 is the new entry to the recent racing-game series developed by Codemasters after Sony lost the license to the prestigious motor sport. It is the second they have done after last year’s excellent F1 2010. The improvements are a lot and all of them are awesome, making the new game much better and enjoyable in every way.

If you look at F1 2011 without paying much attention to the details, it’s going to look exactly as last year’s game except for the interface and soundtrack changes. The graphics are much better now, the textures, colors, anti-aliasing and lighting effects are of better quality and if you take a closer look at some of the objects like the cheering crowds, other cars parked around the tracks, yachts in Monaco and things like that, you’ll notice that the developers worked harder on them to provide a game with better visuals.

When you’re driving, the light reflects on the car almost perfectly and if you pass close to another vehicle, its reflection will show sometimes, the hands of the driver and animations of the mechanics in the pit stops are awesome and look very smooth and realistic. Hopefully, the game runs at a steady 60 frames-per-second so it’s a very smooth and good-looking game.

You can play a career of five seasons in which you create a driver with your name (or any other people you want) and before your first season, you’ll get to choose which of the teams you’ll start driving with among the weakest ones in the sport: Hispania, Virgin, Lotus, Force India and Williams. Once you start, you’ll be driver number two, so you’ll have the constant pressure of trying to beat not only the other teams, but your teammate as well if you want to start receiving upgrades for your car or want to be driver number one yourself, or better yet, join a stronger team.

Just like in F1 2010, you have the option of playing a short or long race weekend. The short ones make you play a single practice and qualifying session followed by the actual race while the long weekend is more like the real-life situation in which the drivers have three practice sessions, the three qualifying ones and the race which can be 100%, 70%, 50% or 20% of the total laps of the actual race. The game follows the rules of the sport to the letter. You can’t corner cut, crash into other cars and things like that because you’ll get penalized and a new thing is that when accidents occur on the track, the security car will be deployed to ensure that no one will overtake the competition while the accident is being cleaned and handled.

By getting good results and accomplishing your given objectives, you’ll eventually get new offers to drive in better teams like Mercedes, Renault or Toro Rosso. And if you are truly good, you might get a chance to drive for the giants Ferrari, McLaren or Red Bull. Still, driving perfectly is almost impossible given the constant changes in weather, weakness of your car compared to the stronger competition and the insane amount of concentration the game requires keeping a steady pace in a race with more than 30 laps.

Don’t expect to start winning qualifying sessions and races at first in the career mode because even if you drive perfectly, the cars in the weak teams are much slower than the Ferraris and such and you’ll get to the points slots at best. F1 2011’s career doesn’t work like other racers where you can start winning from the first moment you play; you have to know your place and forget there are stronger cars on the track and try to beat the ones that are on your level.

Besides the great career mode, you can play in Grand Prix where you can set your own races and calendars with your set rules, order of the tracks and number of cars available for each race. In this mode you can play the qualifying session or just skip it completely and choose from any driver from any of the 12 teams in the real-life situation. Then, there are the Proving Grounds that allow you to play Time Attack sessions to beat the ghost cars of your friends or any driver in the leaderboards or try to do better than a set time with a specific car to earn bronze, silver and gold medals.

Finally, the Multiplayer allows you to play on split-screen (2 players), system link (2-16) with set rules like in Grand Prix mode and the online has several cool race types like Pole Position, Sprint and Endurance with varied races that can even be customized so all 24 cars have the same performance so the winner is chosen by the player’s skill instead of the strength of the team he/she is driving for.

The gameplay is very cool, allowing for tons of customization options and things the F1 cars normally do, like the new DRS and KERS tools that are available as a new thing in the game. The handling, braking, acceleration and speed of the cars feel truly realistic and awesome. There are many assists like automatic gearbox, a dynamic racing line and ABD brakes to help newcomers get a feel for it. But if you play without those, the game will become much harder and it will truly test your skill and focus at the wheel.

Before driving, you can customize tons of things in your car like the suspension, tires, brakes, engine and even the angle of the wings so you have the perfect set-up for the conditions of the race which will always be given to you in an e-mail in-game explaining the weather, temperature of the environments and track and the number of corners on them. Once at the wheel, you’ll be able to choose from many camera views to suit your preferences, activate the KERS and DRS and call for the mechanics to get ready to assist you in a pit stop.

The sound effects are incredible, much better than last year’s game. The engines, tires, voices, cheering and car controls sound exactly like the real thing. In that aspect, the game truly represents what a real F1 scenario should be, it’s top notch in the sound department. The music is also very good. The menus and interface are filled with cool songs to decorate your navigation through them and they’re cool. Sadly, there is no soundtrack while you play the actual races but you can always fix that with a custom soundtrack on the Xbox 360.

F1 2011 features a lot of game modes that will surely provide tons and tons of replay value, especially if you are a fan and follower of the sport. It is not a common racing game, it follows the rules of the Formula 1 and though part of the public will find those tedious and would rather play a more classic racer like Gran Turismo or Forza, F1 2011 will surely provide a lot of fun to racing-game fans and all gamers in general. The game is a blast, totally recommended.


Pros:

-          Fast and intense gameplay style.
-          Feels and looks exactly like real-life Formula 1.
-          Excellent graphics, sound and presentation.
-          Multiplayer is balanced and fun.

Cons:

-          It will scare away players looking for a more classic racer.
-          The AI is kind of dumb in the lower difficulties.
-          Security car appears randomly sometimes.


-          Graphics and Visuals………....9
-          Music and Sound Effects…......8
-          Gameplay…………………….9
-          Replay Value………………....9 

-          Overall Score……………….. 8.8 / 10

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