F1 2010 was a relatively big hit of 2010, even managing to beat the likes of GT5 to a BAFTA while bringing tons of racing action to TSA. This year Codemasters Birmingham say it is all about the multiplayer. With 16 player multiplayer (and 8 AI), 2 player co-op and 2 player splitscreen they certainly mean it.
The first thing I noticed when playing online (with assists on such as traction control and the racing line) was that the game felt slightly easier to drive than with F1 2010. When taking those assists off however, this difficulty was at least equal to that of F1 2010, so don’t expect to be able to pick it up and not put a wheel off track in your first race.
Handling is also an area where the game has improved. The car seems like it has more grip now and feels less likely to spin off suddenly when you touch those curbs. On the other hand, if you’re going around a particularly tight bend it can feel as though the car is leaning to the side and it can be a struggle to get it to turn, which is different enough to F1 2010 to make it tricky to adjust at first.
This all adds up to the game feeling less slippy and more like you’re gripping the road, but the game still very much retains its difficulty when taking assists off. It’s nice to see that the AI also benefits from this improved grip.
Another element that’s new to F1 2011 is the ability to lose XP during online and single player. While racing warnings were popping up we were having XP removed, which suggests better use of the XP system than in the previous game.
Of course, with the sport now having KERS and DRS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System and Drag Reduction System to those of you who don’t follow F1) implemented we have both of these in the game.
KERS works well as a small boost button that regenerates its battery when you cross the finish line each lap whereas DRS is a bit more complicated and will make online racing more interesting with the person in second place having it as a slight advantage and the person in first place having to use there KERS boost wisely to counter.
Splitscreen appears to be making a come back in many racing games and is a very welcome addition here. Players choose the expected settings such as their team, driver and the track which all works well. The only down side that I could see from this mode was the rather large drop in graphics but this is understandable and not going to be something that many people will care about when playing this mode.
It certainly didn’t stop us from having fun.
While we are on the subject of graphics though, this years game looks beautiful! Codies have put in a new lighting engine and added more detail all around. The steering wheel is now much less generic, the scenery around the race track is now more full and the track themselves have been improved visually. Everything looks a lot more shiny. The weather effects have also been improved with the game looking even more fantastic in the wet than the previous version. What stood out for me though was the little details.
This year we have a bigger and better motorhome compared to last years dull and generic paddock and the garage where you make your setups pre-race is larger and much better designed. One of the smallest but most frequently seen changes is the grass that now appears on your tyres when you go wide which works in the same way as the gravel by gradually dissapearing from your wheels which is a nice extra little touch.
F1 2011 manages to improve upon 2010 in every way and then add so much ore to the game at the same time.In terms of realism you can now get mechanical failures (which may have early warnings from the pit crew) and in terms of the game you have a new spectate, splitscreen and a co-op campaign mode to add even more value and longevity to the game.
There is absoloutely no doubt in my mind that we will be playing this game through Meets and the F1 Championship that we run for many months after release.
If you want to see some more pictures from the event, check out the album on Facebook linked below.