- Release Date (NA): August 19, 2016
- Release Date (EU): August 19, 2016
- Publisher: Codemasters
- Developer: Codemasters
- Genres: Racing
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
On your marks...
F1 2016 is one of the most realistic racing games ever made. It aims for strategic perfection in all areas, sacrificing accessibility for hardcore simulation. It's clear that Codemasters' intention was to create a convincing Formula 1 experience while still keeping it fun for players not as involved in the sport, but unfortunately the former too often overtakes the latter.
Annoyingly, the built-in AI for the CPU racers is often buggy and quizzically bad. Often you will get penalties for crashing into computer-controlled cars which drift into places that make little to no sense. Too often, races are lost due to the annoying CPUs. I have to say, the online multiplayer felt like a much more legitimate experience.
Every mechanic is insanely complex, from the mid-race HUD managament system to the extensive tire choices to the drag reduction systems. Taking corners is by no means an easy task, even on the lowest difficulty. I wouldn't have a problem with this level of difficulty if F1 eased the player into it, but it does quite the opposite. It's very hard to enjoy most of the game's content when the learning curve is so high that it's practically non-existent. If you're a huge Formula 1 fan, then you may well recognize and be able to manage this game's load of features, but I don't see how the game appeals to anyone else. I think the level of strategy and knowledge the game requires on higher difficulties is unique, but unfortunately there is a major lack of tutorials to teach the player these elements. F1 2016 relies too heavily on a prior knowledge of previous games, and doesn't take any extra steps to make itself comprehensible to anyone who isn't as specifically knowledgable.
A racing career
Perhaps the most exciting feature is the new Career Mode. The player can, after creating a character, pick one of many Formula 1 teams to sign a contract with. Throughout the mode's ten seasons, various other contracts may become available based on performance, with larger teams expecting higher records. It promises the real experience of being a Formula 1 driver; each race weekend involves many practice sessions leading up to the big race at the end. I'm happy to say that the Career Mode hits the nail on the head, and is no doubt the most exciting feature in the title. It's a lot of fun on both the management and racing side of things, as it gives you ample time to practice and customize your car before the big race at the end of each weekend.
Unfortunately, most of the other game modes fall short in comparison. Quick Race. Championship, and Multiplayer modes are all available, with most being pretty self-explanatory. Online multiplayer functions well, with no issues surrounding large races other than the AFK player. Championship mode feels like a half-career mode and only takes you through one championship season without as many managing frills as the ten seasons of the Career mode. Clearly, most of the effort went into the Career mode which is alright with me considering how fantastically it works.
Smoothly running engines
F1 2016 runs about as smooth as a real Formula 1 engine. I noticed no framerate drops and had no issue with lag or unresponsive controls, which is critical in a racing title. Overall the performance was fast and reliable, and the customizable controls were tight.
I was satisfied with the visuals as well. The cars themselves look bright and crisp during the whole race, and the environments around all the many tracks are designed well. Some driver models look a little outdated for a current-gen game, but it's understandable given the other assets which are being rendered at 60 FOS the whole race. Commendably, the game is able to balance crisp visuals with smooth performance at all times.
Even the sounds keep the racing atmosphere present. Roaring and purring, the engine noises are convincing and enveloping. There are commentators who get old very quickly and generic crowd noises as well, and though nothing in the audio department shines beautifully, I think the sounds do a great job of creating an enveloping racing experience.
- Smooth performance and crisp visuals
- Fantastic career mode
- Lots of content
- Frustratingly bad AI
- Very high learning curve
- Lack of basic tutorials and player guidance