F1 2016 is available now across all modern gaming platforms, and this version is a real gem, a real accessible simulation of life both on and off the track.
Visually the thrill of F1 racing is presented in a top-notch manner. The humans who make up the real-world travelling F1 show are quite nicely presented, so you can tell Lewis from Kimi for example, it is more about the cars, tracks and meteorological appearance that we are here for.
And it is very well done. All 21 circuits maintain their local characteristics with the changing weather conditions and time of day captured in a noticeable and mysteriously intangible way that adds a great deal of atmosphere and realism to the experience.
New surface, kerb and barrier physics have been incorporated into this release, which really just means Monaco is an even bigger pain in the bum to race upon, but that is life in Formula 1.
Developer Codemasters has taken a significant amount of feedback from the community that played previous F1 titles and incorporated them into this release.
As a result, both the virtual and real safety car have made a return to the race-day experience. There is also the option to warm up tyres and brakes during a formation lap.
More subtle changes including a new pit lane entry speed mechanic, more realistic penalty system and car damage sensitivity have also appeared in this release. In practice however, and I don’t mind admitting to this, the car damage modelling still remains somewhat lenient than I would expect in the real world. You can get away with some bumps that I am pretty sure would cripple those rather fragile open-wheelers.
Whilst the glamour of being part of a top F1 team is not part of the presentation, nearly everything else is modelled during the career modes of the game. Inter and intra-team rivalries are formed and tracked as well as team objectives for each practice session, qualifying and the race itself. It is indeed possible, though quite difficult, to be sacked from the team.
During practice sessions you will have the opportunity to get familiar with the track, check on tyre management and push for a good qualifying time. In doing these drills successfully you will earn Resource Points, which are also accumulated at other times and can be spent on R&D options for your team to keep ahead of the competition.
Before the race you can tweak things to your heart’s content, changing tyres, car configuration, race strategy and so forth. Then it is off to the starting grid.
F1 2016 allows a timed clutch-start to allow perfecting the all-important launch from the beginning of the race.
Once out on the track you will get constant chatter from the pit-crew. This will range from weather reports, to info about other team mishaps, your own damage and discussions about changing race strategy.
This audio along with the management of your own car from downforce adjustments, fuel mix alterations and keeping an eye on tyre wear gives a real sense of being in the cockpit of a F1 car.
The feel of the car is a little less twitchy than I would have thought, but this driving model plus a generous array of driving assists really aids a broadening of accessibility to a franchise that can be daunting for new-comers.
Multiplayer has been given a complete spruce-up. Grab some friends and run a full length championship, or jump into a casual race, with lots of set-up options, at whatever level you want. The most popular options currently seem to be a non-collision series of races against human opponents and their ghost cars.
Chatting with people online, and from our own observation, it is clear that F1 2016 is a welcome return to form for the franchise. You can go as deep or shallow as you like, and generally come away with a satisfying experience behind the wheel. Apart from Monaco that is, though that may be a personal problem.