F1 2016 on PlayStation 4
Following the disappointing release last year, with a lack of a Career Mode and bugs aplenty, F1 2016 had a lot to make up for to Formula One fans. This year’s release aimed to take players to a whole new level of immersion, promising an in-depth career mode, polished visuals, and the return of the Safety Car that was absent in last year’s title. After a fair few Grand Prix victories, a few spin-offs, and some conversations with my agent, I can confirm that F1 2016 is going for the top of the podium.
As previously mentioned, F1 2015 had left a lot of fans disappointed. Its lack of a career mode meant that other than the Championship Season that allowed you to assume the role of your favorite driver for one season of Grand Prix racing, there was very little meat on the bones. F1 2016 has rectified this problem, dropping a 10 season Career Mode with plenty of depth for fans to sink their teeth into. It all starts off with you choosing your driver’s appearance, name, nationality and the like. From here, you’re sent to your team’s lobby where you’ll find yourself sitting opposite your agent. The Career Mode makes a big deal about contracts. If you fail to deliver on your team’s expectations, you can run the risk of being fired. However, start to truly impress and other teams may offer you more lucrative contract offers if you jump ship. It’s a neat little mechanic that makes you feel like your performances actually mean something more than just your standings on a leaderboard.
This lobby is basically your hub for everything you’ll want to know or do off the track. Your laptop gives you an overview of your Career so far, as well as the current championship standings. It also has a bunch of tutorial videos to help newcomers or those not quite up to speed on the latest Formula One regulations to get clued up.
These videos were where the level of immersion and attention to detail really shows in F1 2016. Codemasters has continued to fine-tune the way cars handle under different conditions, and with the different tires and loadouts that are at your disposal. Combine this with the number of different assists that can either be turned on or off to add to the realism (and increase/ lower the difficulty) and you’ve got an F1 simulator that allows players to get as much into the nitty gritty as they want. Hardcore F1 fans are going to enjoy tinkering with these settings dependent on weather conditions and their race tactics. But for those only just getting into the series, going along with what the game automatically chooses for you is a safe option that, for all its depth, won’t penalize you for your lack of expertise.
While this is certainly a positive for newcomers, experts don’t really have a reason to go into the settings of the car, alter their Pit Stop plan, or do any of that. Sticking with the default took me to the top of the podium every single time. Heck, the game even points out that the alternative Pit Stop plan would add seconds onto my time. It’s neat that the options are there for those who want to have a play around, but it seems to offer little more than a slower, and therefore trickier, race against your opponents.
With the tutorial videos watched, my agent spoken to, and my laptop well and truly gotten to grips with, it was time to head out for P1 (Practice Session 1) in my Ferrari. Each race weekend plays out just as you’d imagine. You’ve got a bunch of Practice Sessions, a Qualifying session, and then the Grand Prix itself. Now, Formula One has always been an endurance sport and so, in theory, these race weekends should take a good few hours to complete. However, because not everyone will find enjoyment in racing 60 laps of the same track, managing their pit stops in between the other racers on the track and nervously taking each corner so as not to let that guy riding your tail slip by, F1 2016 gives players the option to customize the length of race weekends. The number of laps in a Grand Prix, the type of Qualifying event, and the number of Practice Sessions can be adjusted through a number of preset options. Alternatively, if none of those tickle your fancy, you can customize your own.
The Practice Sessions of each weekend are there to help you get yourself acquainted with the track. While in previous games, Practice Sessions simply had you driving around the track for 40 minutes, F1 2016 has implemented a number of different trials that not only provide Resource Points to buy upgrades, but invaluable training and tips for how to tackle the track. These trials range from hitting small gates to learn the driving line, to driving a brisk but careful lap, and even to tire management. By taking on these challenges, you not only begin to learn the layout but the best ways to approach each section. Taking your foot off the accelerator rather than braking around a corner will actually shave seconds off your time as well as keeping those tires in good condition. The way these trials are handled means that learning incredibly important tips and tricks doesn’t feel laborious. In fact, they’re really quite fun.