While I might enjoy a great range of racing games, there’s usually a type of racing I always try to avoid. Whether Forza, GTA, or any other, I tend not to take the powerhouses. The high speed vehicles that offer greater speeds but at greater chance of making mistakes.
Such a person would be a perfect fit to be dumped into the cockpit of an F1 car, then. Clearly, the answer would be no, especially as there’s a greater technical prowess to handling one of these beasts. The chance of errors that much higher in a sport of pinpoint precision.
But here I am anyway, with the latest in the official F1 game series, purely because I wanted to see if I could handle one of these vehicles and make it through a season with the new My Team mode. So far… I’ll be lucky if I manage to even finish a race of the season.
Before I jumped into the new mode where I would manage and drive for my own team, I wanted to try a few single races. Doing so is easy enough, with the ability to create a custom setlist direct from the Grand Prix option. Changing the conditions of the race and the various assists is handled through this setup screens, and then it’s into the race.
Even with just these singular races, it puts you in the atmosphere of an event, with intro scenes giving an overview of the race and track, and outro scenes talking of the winners. These can be skipped in the singular races to get straight into the action, meaning they aren’t as much a nuisance should you just want a quick race.
The handling of these cars feels very much like an F1 car should, and it does take some getting used to the fact you can push these things into turns at greater speeds than other cars. Those cars look great, as do the various tracks. Everything here is as it should be, though the complexity of the controls might get a bit much for some.
Thankfully, along with the various assists, there’s a casual mode that will turn all the assists on and alter the mechanics to make off-road driving easier to manage and also reset you onto the track should you prefer not having to deal with positioning yourself to get back on track. And even without casual mode, there’s still the rewind feature should you make a costly mistake.
Having come last in all the singular races I played, I felt it time to jump into My Team mode to get a proper feel for an F1 season and start learning the tracks. To start with, I had to set up my team with a sponsor, second driver, power unit, and various smaller parts such as the team logo and vehicle livery. The customisation offers a lot of presets, but doesn’t go beyond that – though there is full control over what the colours of those parts are.
After an interview, where the choices of what I answered matter in giving a boost in certain areas (as all the answers from interviews will do), I was then within the headquarters of Herzan Unified Racing – the name I’d given my team. From here, various options allowed access to sections of the team, such as the aerodynamics department, with the option of adding more stuff to them. There’s also research and development options to improve the cars of your team.
There’s a lot to manage, with planning of activities for the team and managing other areas of it, but while you’ll have access to everything, there’s little you can do without the money and development points. Skip ahead to the first race, which again give options for how you want it to play out. Accepting those options, it’s time for the race weekend to begin.
Currently, I’ve only finished the free practice sessions, but here I had the opportunity to see what my skills were like when at my best, with a number of challenges available to test players in such things as fuel and tyre management, along with keeping to the racing line of the track. Completing these would earn more points that can go into R&D, so it was worth it to try to beat them. My skills weren’t as good as I’d have hoped, only just managing to complete one of them.
It is my first time since the 2013 game, however, and as I said, I usually avoid the high-powered vehicles anyway. I was still managing to get close to the competitive times of the other drivers, and still had fun powering around the track. When it comes to qualifying, I fully expect to at least get above last position, though I have no idea if that will hold come the race.
I am enjoying my time with everything that this game offers, but I feel you have to be someone who likes the sport to get the most out of it. Those who aren’t fans of F1, but who are racing fans in general, might still find a good time with it. Your experience can be tailored to exactly what you want, with the regular career mode still featuring for those who’d rather just race instead of dealing with the management side of things too.
It’s an easy recommendation for those who enjoy the thrill of F1 racing. For casual racing fans, it really depends on how much you can put up with the technical side of this one, as while you can tailor the assists to give yourself an easier time, these tracks are still designed for the full throttle F1 experience.
All images taken from: F1 2020 Microsoft Store Page