F1 2011 preview – its okay to be niche when youre this hardcore

While the megaton simulation racing games tend to take massive breaks between their releases (Gran Turismo and Forza), the F1 series has been carving out a sizeable niche for itself. The annual series has been providing racing fans with smaller annual improvements as opposed to the huge 4-year upgrades from the more well-known games. Granted, it’s all about F1 racing, which the NASCAR-dominated US is less familiar with, but true gearheads might find a lot to love here.

F1 2010 was the fastest selling game in the series’ history, and even scooped up a BAFTA sports game award in the UK. And the 2011 version follows the same arch as previous games. Is this game a revolution in the racing genre? Not at all. However, it’s still looking like a pretty healthy evolution.

As you could expect from a simulation racer, a lot of the improvements are extremely technical aspects of both the mechanics and the sport of F1 racing. Most of it went completely over our heads (we just like to make the car go ‘vroom.’) But there were some cool new additions that should specifically help the average gamer get around the track. For one thing, you’ll now be able to see exactly when you’ll need to get your wheels changed just by looking at the tires as you drive. They will physically start showing their wear after a few laps, and you’ll be able to monitor that in real time.

Beyond that, the developers are also focusing more heavily on multiplayer for this edition. They’re adding a host of MP options from splitscreen options to cooperative championships and full online matches with 16 racers and 8 AI opponents to replicate a full F1 grid.

The focus in the single-player mode is on replicating the experience you see racers having on TV. That means that all of things you see them doing on TV will be a part of the game. The press interviews from the last game are back, and Codemasters is tweaking things this time around. This time it’s designed to help you learn how to deal with an unruly press that can sometimes take your words out of context etc.

Rounding out the package is a bevy of technical upgrades like improved AI, a few new tracks, enhanced damage modeling, that sort of thing. If you’re a newcomer to the F1 series you’ll (as always) be getting the best F1 game possible since it’s designed to be an upgrade to the last game not a complete remodeling. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll certainly have some new features to play with. If you’re not, this might be a good time to become one.

Jun 16, 2011

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