At the beginning of the year, fans of Formula 1 and Codemasters games have a new cause for concern: EA bought the developer of racing games, and therefore the series was clearly waiting for a change. The theories were very different, but especially often among the panicked there was an assumption that F1 will “start milking” and it will turn into something like FIFA – an annual assembly line without any major changes.
Only here the F1 series from Codemasters was similar to FIFA before. So with the arrival of the new publisher, the situation has not changed at all.
The plot is presented with beautiful, but for some reason pinched clips
The formula for success
However, F1 2021 has at least one solid innovation: a full-fledged story campaign with its heroes, villains, unexpected twists and expensive cutscenes. The British have been taking this step for many years. Back in 2010, they flirted with the slogan Be the Driver, Live the Life, diluting the races with sketches with a personal manager and the opportunity to give interviews, and in the game in 2019, even somehow written characters and several story races appeared. And now, after years of timid experiments, Codemasters decided to tell a full story called Braking Point (or “Formula for Success” in the Russian version).
Meet Aiden Jackson – the rising star of racing and F1 debut. The guy barely had time to sit in the cockpit of the World Championship, when he literally got into trouble right away: he inadvertently unleashed a conflict with veteran partner Kasper Ackerman, and with the filing of the bastard Devon Butler, already familiar from F1 2019 . Actually, the young talent has to deal with this misfortune. And we, in fact, all this time will have to steer for him in certain, especially dramatic situations.
You can complete the story in one of five teams: Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, HAAS, and Williams. However, this will not affect the plot in any way.
The whole story is a collection of different racing scenarios where you need to complete tasks like “get to 8th position after a puncture”, similar to F1 2013 “Scenarios” mode . Only this time, the races are glued together with beautiful cutscenes with expensively animated and fully voiced characters who periodically quarrel and talk about something. The main problem with such a plot, predictably, lies in the drama and staging.
The script is extremely simple, the characters periodically behave like children and create conflicts from scratch, and their characters feel rather flat. Except, perhaps, Butler, who turned out to be an exemplary bastard, and therefore is remembered. However, closer to the second half, the story makes a little feint, and at some point the scriptwriters even manage to evoke a feeling of empathy – this slightly contributes to immersion in what is happening.
With the help of social networks, mail, news, calls and even the arrangement of things in the pilot’s room, Codemasters managed to create a thick atmosphere.
Despite the fact that the plot itself cannot boast of literary depth, throughout the campaign, the authors constantly make it clear that the player is no longer an unnamed avatar, but a person with relatives, experiences and a whole army of critics. Calls from the hero’s mother, letters from an assistant who constantly reminds of organizational concerns, posts on the local analogue of Twitter from real Western bloggers, experts and former pilots – all this creates an atmosphere of being in the F1 paddock. At the expense of spiteful critics from social networks, for example, the illusion of pressure appears when it seems that the whole world is against you. And interviews after the races, which have been rewinding for several years, have become a little more meaningful thanks to the context and friction of the characters. It is a pity that from time to time the game hints at something more, but this very “more” does not give: we are warned several times that in 15 minutes there will be a briefing and debriefing, but the briefing itself is left off-screen. It’s a shame.
Be the Driver, Live the Life
Ещё обиднее, что непосредственно на игровом процессе всё это практически не сказывается. В F1 2013 «Сценарии» были одной из лучших находок разработчиков, однако в рамках полноценного сюжета большая часть заездов кажется пресной.
The problem is that they are devoid of interesting tasks and the unpredictability of ordinary races – almost always we either start at the end of the peloton, or roll back to the end, and then recoup. Almost all scenarios follow the same monotonous patterns, but only the context changes: here I was lucky with a safety car, and therefore there is a chance to rise higher, but here, on the contrary, I was unlucky with a punctured tire. We must fight our way back. At the same time, they do not allow to influence either the qualification or the strategy, no scripted events occur during the race either, and therefore the struggle and breakthroughs are quite predictable. The only exception can be called the race in Spa, where weather conditions constantly change during the race, but this hardly changes the overall picture.
The storyline races also have problems with the balance: in some situations, rivals become too easy prey
But the most annoying thing is that the narrative, as a rule, does not react in any way to the player’s actions and achievements in the races. The problem is not only that the plot is linear and does not allow you to make at least some important decisions – everyone also does not care about your behavior on the track. Yes, if you try and win the race, then they will write a couple of posts with praise on social networks, but the cutscenes and the course of events will not change from this. It is somewhat strange to see how, after winning the race, the protagonist stands blacker than a cloud and makes excuses to the journalists, and the leader scolds him over the phone for the lost 1-2 points. It is also strange to see that the situation in the Constructors’ Cup is absolutely independent of whether you come to the finish line first or not. It seems to be an understandable convention, but it affects the involvement in the process: why try, if the game does not even show the results of the race,
This is not to say that all of the above makes the race uninteresting. At the end of the day, spinning circles and overtaking opponents in the storyline is just as enjoyable as in other modes. But the potential of the idea was clearly greater. So the experience of the single player campaign directly depends on your expectations. If you wanted a dramatic, well-choreographed plot and spectacular races – well, then there is a chance of disappointment. We wanted a little more context for 6-8 hours – in this regard, everything is fine. And if we take into account the lack of experience of Codemasters, then we can say that the experiment was rather a success than not.
The driving experience is another important aspect that sets the F1 2021 apart from its predecessors. The fact is that the technical regulations of the real F1 in 2021 have changed slightly: the bottom area of the cars has decreased, and the grip on the track has become less.
Visually, unfortunately, accidents still look pretty plain. But in the car, you can damage a little more parts: for example, as a result of contact, break off a piece of the bottom, which will affect adhesion to the track
In the game, these changes are felt in two ways. For some reason, the hitch at the entrance to high-speed turns has become even larger, but for hitting the curbs is now often punished with a U-turn, and when working with gas at the exit from the turns, slip and drifts regularly occur, which have to be caught. As a result, on high-speed tracks like Silverstone or Spa, the speeds have increased slightly, and it has become easier and more enjoyable to fly. But in Monaco or Melbourne, out of habit, he will often unfold, which at the same time adds novelty to the process and annoys. In some places, such changes make the game more realistic, in some places exactly the opposite. But the cars have become more alive anyway.
Graphically, the game looks better: dirt and lawn lumps appeared on the asphalt, and the lighting was slightly tightened
It’s even better to see how AI has changed. These are no longer the same helpless victims as they were before: the opponents learned to counterattack and, in general, became much bolder in attack, and during the defense they choose alternative trajectories and even shift during braking, which makes the fight more dangerous. Side-by-side battles over several turns are now not uncommon, which is good news. In addition, at the start, opponents are finally distributed over the entire width of the track, much less often leaving “corridors” for opportunistic breakthroughs.
Nevertheless, the AI still likes to poke its nose into the turn when the moment for attack has already been missed, and sometimes, on the contrary, to close the wickets when you have already got level and are going to overtake along the inner trajectory. Of course, it is unpleasant to fly aboard because of other people’s oversights, but the races themselves again became a little more intense. At least until Codemasters once again ruins everything with patches – in previous games, the studio has already “nerfed” the AI after release.
But the lack of the ability to change the level of enrichment of the mixture on the go is no longer very cool. Like the local refereeing: in some places the virtual referees have really become more adequate, but they still love to punish the player for the fact that someone crashed into him, and during the departure of the safety car, they have not been able to decide who is behind who should go. However, everything is as before.
Experimenting with sponsor liveries and stickers is still one of the most fun activities in the game.
This phrase can generally describe a significant part of the game’s content: apart from the plot, there will be a minimum of qualitative changes in traditional modes. For example, the “My Team” mode, which debuted in F1 2020 (as well as “Career”), remained practically the same. If you missed the previous game, then it will pleasantly surprise you. Here you can assemble your team from scratch, paint the cars, conclude contracts with sponsors and an engine supplier, hire a partner, invest the earned money in sections, distribute the activities that the team will be engaged in and, of course, develop the car. In general, management can be even more interesting than driving. However, in the second round, doing all this is far from so exciting, and the volume of innovations is barely enough for the DLC.
You can also hire Schumacher, Prost, Senna, Rosberg, Coulthard, Button and Massa to the team – this, of course, is good, but does not pull on a full-fledged feature
Apart from the new “cosmetics”, the only noticeable update of the mode is the events taking place in the sections. The bottom line is simple: you are asked a question how to solve a particular problem, and the answer leads to different bonuses or penalties. Let’s say your partner Artyom Markelov complains about an unbearable workload and asks to give him an extra day off. Give it a rest – increase his concentration to the detriment of experience, if you refuse, it will turn out the other way around. This is not to say that this somehow changes the sensation of the process, but slightly adds life to the game mode.
The rest of the additives are purely aesthetic. For example, in the car refinement mode, new improvements are selected not on an abstract “development tree”, but among a number of proposed cards. It looks beautiful, because each has a very specific detail, but the essence has not changed, and the menu itself has become less intuitive and at the same time several tabs are more voluminous.
As a result, going through the same things in the tenth circle is already boring. F1 2021 will have the same training programs, the same interview questions, even animations during the victory celebrations – and those have not changed in years. And this despite the fact that this animation is one for the whole game, and you will see it after each finish. There are no new tracks in the game either – even Jeddah, announced last year, will appear in only one of the updates.
All this adds to the burden of old problems that have been wandering from game to game for several years now. From F1 2020, fps drops when watching replays, and lagging sounds, and texture loading right before our eyes, and automatically generated final protocols after the race, and very long downloads by the standards of 2021, which happen at every turn, moved here.
The interface has been changed for some reason: the menus have become more beautiful, but much less intuitive – some settings have to be searched for a long time. There were problems with convenience before, but this time Codemasters have surpassed themselves
Somehow, the situation is saved by the opportunity to go through a career in a cooperative, which has not happened since F1 2014, as well as the option to transfer the standings of the real championship to the game. Only now, for some reason, they cut out the historical race cars loved by many, and at the same time a bunch of championships with different conditions. Apparently, there was not enough budget, but the exchange did not turn out to be of equal value. On the other hand, the developers still understood that the same activities could get bored, and therefore in some places they were allowed to automate processes. Resources in training programs can now be obtained using a simple mini-game where you distribute challenges on a timeline and hope for randomness. And at the same time, you can refuse from routine communication with journalists, and even from fine-tuning the car, leaving all worries in the hands of AI.
For all its flaws, F1 2021 is still a good game. It’s hard to screw something up when there are so few changes. In addition, the story mode, co-op and cars of 2021, in theory, should be enough to justify the “upgrade” to the next part of the series. True, the price tag this year has grown disproportionately to the content of the project. And this, of course, is unpleasant.
- the presence of a story mode and how it works with the atmosphere;
- aggressive AI;
- the opportunity to pursue a career in a cooperative;
- physics tweaks added character to the fireballs.
- few changes;
- the quality of the script and storyline races is lame;
- the disappearance of historical fireballs and the “Championships” mode;
- inconvenient UI and a huge number of old problems from bugs to judging.
How we played
In what: The key is provided by the publisher.
How long: 23 hours
Achievement of the editorial office
Receive criticism from the boss, journalists and social media after winning the race.
The translation, as in previous times, was done selectively: somewhere the text is in Russian, somewhere, as in the case of subject subtitles, it is not. I would like to believe that this will be fixed with patches. Another thing is that the quality of the text is unlikely to change in any way, and it is sometimes lame: some terms and settings are translated incorrectly.
Still a good, but thoroughly secondary Formula 1 game. In addition to a short story mode, a returned co-op and actual cars, there is, frankly, nothing to justify the increase in price. Even old bugs are not fixed.