Codemasters’ Formula One racing franchise makes its debut on the Xbox One this year with F1 2015
with the hopes of being the leader of the pack in the racing simulation genre. After several fairly successful years following a series reboot on the Xbox 360, it’s time to see whether another year of development and a new platform have helped to elevate the game to the top step of the podium, or whether the title simply languishes like an unceremonious backmarker at the rear of the grid.
The first aspect to note when the game starts is that, after the customary action-packed cutscene, the game’s menu system offers a fresh and simple approach with all modes and options being easy to find and access. The menu system essentially does exactly what it needs to do.
Keeping things simple!
The menu system may well have everything where you would normally expect them to be; however, there is a distinct lack of game modes in F1 2015
. The biggest change is the exclusion of a full Career mode, which in previous iterations has included up to seven consecutive seasons to allow players to act out their very own rags to riches storyline. Instead, the development team has opted for a different approach in the form of a Championship Season mode which only includes a single season starting out with any of the teams in the paddock. This major change to, what will be for many players, the main attraction in a game such as F1 2015
feels like a major step back from the increasingly immersive career progression that has featured in the series’ most recent iterations. The whole purpose of a racing simulation like F1 2015
is to allow the player to become really involved in every nuance of how the real-life equivalent would feel but, in removing the possibility of enjoying the journey from rookie driver to racing legend, ultimately F1 2015
falls short of offering the full experience.
The Wizard of Oz?!
Furthermore, the game fails to offer any of the co-op career options that have proved popular in the past, whilst the absence of the challenging Scenario Mode and Time Attacks are yet more glaring omissions. The game does attempt to redeem itself with the inclusion of the brand-new Pro Season mode and content from the 2014 season. Unfortunately, Pro Season mode, which locks racers into cockpit view against the toughest rivals with no assists to help, can effectively be replicated in the aforementioned Championship Season or recurring Quick Race modes. Meanwhile, the bonus content from the 2014 season offers very little in the way of variety except for including Germany’s Hockenheimring which is not featured in the 2015 race calendar. All in all, the content and game modes available in F1 2015
do not even come close to the amount and quality that we’ve come to expect since the franchise was restarted by Codemasters.
After all the disappointment of those shortfalls, getting out onto the track will be a welcome relief. Codemasters continues with the only official license agreement for Formula One and the development team has used that license to full effect, coupled with the Xbox One’s hardware capability, to recreate all of the race venues in unprecedented detail whilst also doing likewise in terms of the facial likenesses of all of the drivers on the grid. Previous iterations have suffered from venues that have had bland surroundings but F1 2015
excels in bringing the atmosphere, glitz, and glamour of locations like Monaco to life, whilst night-racing in Singapore is a real highlight. For years, players have been begging for in-game commentary. At last, F1 2015
delivers something similar with pre and post-session analysis courtesy of former F1 driver, Anthony Davidson accompanied by Sky's David Croft. The graphical improvements are mainly due to the all-new Ego game engine which also sees the handling mechanics of the cars reach new heights. The replication of the torque-ridden bite of the new 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 hybrid cars is nothing short of excellent, and the thrill of correcting occasions of oversteer through corners just like the pros takes the realism beyond anything the game’s predecessors had at their disposal. F1 2015
has also made great strides in improving the in-race input from your race engineer. In contrast to the pointless, mundane, and often irrelevant comments that the engineer has provided in the past, you can now garner lots of telling information during a race, such as updates on fuel use and in-depth weather updates. It seems that the development team has really concentrated on utilising the new platform and game engine to their potential, as the handling in particular is far superior to the previous titles. Unfortunately, minor bugs with drivers’ name tags have occurred within some race sessions.
Eau Rouge in the wet, anyone?
The multi-player elements of F1 2015
are similar to the single-player game modes in that the range of options has really been stripped back to the bare minimum. The local split-screen has suffered the same fate as the missing co-op career. Despite this, the multiplayer options that are available do a good job of splitting the online community into appropriate skill levels. Players can choose between beginner, standard, and hardcore lobbies where a selection of events and themes are available under each difficulty category. The hardcore difficulty mirrors the approach taken in the Pro Seasons single-player mode. The separation of players based on representative skill and experience is positive as it ensures that newcomers are not overwhelmed by vastly superior rival drivers, and conversely series veterans can battle hard for bragging rights.
A time for champagne celebrations... or not!
For the most part, the achievement list in F1 2015
follows the racing line that has been forged by its predecessors, with a small number of exceptions. The usual progression-based achievements exist in relation to the Championship Season in this iteration, but the achievements for winning the Drivers’
accolades are not difficulty-specific. Although those achievements should suit casual players, the same can’t be said for the duo of Pro Seasons unlocks. There are a small number of achievements for reaching or exceeding certain milestones, such as beating racing legend Michael Schumacher’s record
number of wins in a single season. The multi-player achievements are virtually identical to previous years with the main task simply requiring a set number of online races. The achievements that differ from those of previous iterations see players being asked to complete a set number of clean laps and times across the Quick Race and Time Trial modes. In similar fashion to the earlier games in the franchise, F1 2015
contains a rather unimaginative list of achievements. The Pro Seasons achievements could prove tricky for casual racers and some players may not appreciate having to spend so much of the game in the Quick Race and Time Trial modes.
Overall, it is clear that the new Ego game engine offers up cars that have never handled better. Equally, the circuits have been reproduced in amazing detail. Those aspects of F1 2015
are undoubtedly an improvement on the series’ recent titles. As much as the car handling and environments have improved, Codemasters has taken a step back in respect of the range of game modes that are available this year in comparison to the gradual additions that have been introduced year-on-year. Given that this is the first Formula One title on the Xbox One may well prove that going back to basics on the game modes is the right thing to do in order to ensure that they get the actual driving experience right. There is certainly plenty of scope for adding new game modes in future Xbox One iterations, much like the approach taken since the series reboot back in 2010.
- Excellent car handling mechanics
- Beautiful circuits
- Lacking in terms of game modes
- Game bugs exist
- Unimaginative achievement list
The reviewer has spent around 15 hours winning Championship Season races, setting clean laps, and racing in the game's multiplayer modes. Of the title's 45 achievements, 13 were unlocked during the review period. A download code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.