Review: F1 2016 (PS4)

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Title: F1 2016
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (23.4 GB)
Release Date: August 19, 2016
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), €69.99 (EU), £54.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
F1 2016 is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I have not been a big fan of Formula 1 games for many years now. This has been partly because they never really captured the speed and thrill of the sport, partly because I have never been all that good at playing them, but most importantly, I prefer the Rally games.

I wanted to try this one because the hype train the PR people set in motion has sparked an interest in me. Therefore, I am packing my bags and high tailing it to the next station.

Gameplay:
I jumped straight into the Quick Race mode as the game finished installing. I could not access every location and so opted for the Australian track, came in third place and by that time, the other tracks had installed. After taking first place at Silverstone I was enjoying myself, until it hung on the loading screen.

I did a quick restart of the game and was pleased to see everything had finished installing and that was the last issue I had. Now I usually avoid the Career mode in a game like this as they always bore me but I started the Normal mode and got sucked into it straight away.

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You see the off-track minutia through the eyes of your created character, usually sat in the team’s bar and lounge in front of a laptop. This acts as the way to order upgraded parts, begin a practise session, and check voicemails, and such. You will get visits from various people on your team between the time on the track and it’s a nice relaxing way to break up the excitement behind the wheel.

You are always referred to as the team selection, Mercedes or Ferrari for example and not by a nickname. It ruins the flow ever so slightly as the commentator is reading through the standings or highlights. Now, I’m not expecting them to have a gigantic list of names with my oddball one buried in there, but a few nicknames or popular names to choose from would be nice.

… a plethora of options to suit your play style …
My skill level at this kind of game is average at best and this generally meant that previous iterations have become too demanding and technical for me to have any real fun. With F1 2016, I think I have finally found a game that manages to cater for the long-term fans and the average player too.

You can use a flashback to rewind time and correct any mistakes you make during a race. In addition, you can set a plethora of options to suit your play style. For example, you can have a quick race with assists that only last a few laps, or turn everything up to the max and make it a detailed simulation.

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I played a few races using the Thrustmaster T150 and after some small adjustments to the settings found it very enjoyable and responsive. Do not fret as the standard DualShock 4 controls are excellent too and I could happily play this game with either.

I am keeping it on the average settings and having loads of fun. I have found just the right balance of arcade thrills and simulation strategy to make me remember why this sport is so exciting. I doubt I would go for the Platinum, but I will see out my career until the end.

… the exact same cutscene every single time …
Visuals:
We have been spoilt with one or two other racing games on the PlayStation 4 and this one seems slightly lacking here and there. F1 2016 looks the part and gives an excellent sense of speed and atmosphere but some of the details, dirt, and polish are not present.

The game almost feels like a new pair of plain white trainers, there is no wear and tear, no scuffs or scrapes. Everything from the track to the people in the pit looks too plain. It does have a few moments where I am fooled into thinking otherwise, but for the most part, it could have done with a little more time under the artist’s brush mouse.

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Some very mild screen tearing sporadically interferes with the excellent track exteriors, but that has yet to disrupt my field of vision when I am concentrating on the blistering speed as I approach a sharp bend or overtake a competitor.

Another gripe in the visual department is the winner’s podium. It shows the exact same cutscene every single time. It isn’t their flagrant wasteful spraying of a Jeroboam of champagne over and over again that bothers me, but the evil glare the first place winner gives about halfway through.

… different times of day and weather to contend with …
I keep brushing on the speed aspect and need to reiterate that it’s something this game does well. It betters other racing games in that regard and that’s all I really care about at the end of the day race.

There are different times of day and weather to contend with. From a clear sunny day to heavy rain, the conditions not only affect your vision but the handling of the car and in turn, your pulse rate. It can be very intense when the rain is hammering down and you lose control on the final bend.

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Audio:
Wearing a set of headphones adds to the thrills and sense of being right there in the driver’s seat. The roar of the crowd, the screech of the tires, it all sounds so good through a decent pair of headphones. But then you miss out on the pit crew chatter through the DualShock 4 speaker, which works surprisingly well as long as you have it loud enough.

My only true complaint is the mention of the damn weather, it is talked about so often that I feel like I’m sat in an old age pensioners care home and the TV is on the fritz. I know it plays an important part of a race but seriously, if I hear my crew chief mention one more time that the outlook remains dry and he will update me if it changes, I am going to drive into that pit and beat him with an umbrella.

You can talk to the pit crew, and I mean actually talk with a microphone. You have a set list of phrases you can say and each time I have tried it the response has been very quick and accurate. This is excellent if you want to check on the fuel or distance from another driver and cannot tear your eyes away from the track.

… a nice and quick way to find games to join …
Online/Multiplayer:
Up to twenty-two online players can race together in F1 2016 and much to my delight, you can turn off collisions. Many players I have encountered think they are playing dodgems, bumper cars, or whatever you like calling it.

Each online race I encountered was of good quality and very enjoyable. I could easily see myself jumping into this mode more often, Especially because the Session List mode is a nice and quick way to find games to join.

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I have yet to play an online game with the full complement of racers and most have been with eight to ten competitors. F1 2016 does have in-game chat with a press-to-talk option but I turned my microphone off like the rest of the users. Apart from the occasional cough or background chatter, I did not get to experience the voice chat.

You can opt to create your own session and limit it to friends, invite only, or an open game. You can then change and customise assists, A.I. drivers, weather, amount of players, and a wealth of other choices. I never got round to creating or joining any championships but was happy to see it as an option.

… a rock solid foundation to build upon …
Conclusion:
If you can ignore the occasional screen tearing and repetitive awards ceremony then you’ll probably find a solid Formula 1 racing game with F1 2016. I am sure fans of the sport will find enjoyment here, whether they are serious gamers or not.

The game works well in every department. I like the full featured online offering, the addictive career modes, and excellent controls. The graphics could do with a little finesse but the sense of speed more than makes up for it.

My foray into this high-speed racing genre has been an exciting and fun experience and Codemasters has put together a rock solid foundation to build upon with the next instalment. Until then I strongly suggest checking out F1 2016.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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  • Thank you for the review. I’m loving F1 2016 so far, everything I was looking for in terms of a step forward from 2015. I would say the online is one patch away from greatness, sporadic ‘lag’ effects one lap 1 when everyone is close causes mayhem. Otherwise, top job Codemasters. That’s two great racing games from them in recent times, with whatever ex-Evolution are working on.

    • ChazzH69

      Thanks Thomas. I’m glad you’re enjoying this latest game from codemasters. I really need to jump back into this one soon.

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