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F1 2014

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Release Date: Oct. 21, 2014 (US), Oct. 17, 2014 (EU)

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


PC Preview - 'F1 2014'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Sept. 22, 2014 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

F1 2014 is the culmination of five years of experience developing officially licensed Formula 1 video games and delivers fans the most accessible experience yet.

As a relatively new fan to the world of F1 racing, a game such as F1 2014 can be daunting. I've been putting in some laps with Codemasters' newest entry and getting a feel for how it all comes together for an F1 novice. The game is impressive in its portrayal of speed, but it doesn't overwhelm you with too much to figure out at once.

F1 2014 is not naturally easy, but it lets players have a respectable amount of control over their assist settings. Before you start the game, you choose an intended difficulty, and then it puts you in a very short race. Based on your performance, the game can recommend you adjust the difficulty up or down. However, there is nothing stopping you from further customizing the difficulty. Options such as traction control have levels of settings rather than simply on or off, as does the rule setting. Players looking for a more carefree experience will likely let the rules worry about corner-cutting, while ones looking for more realism will opt for stricter rules.

The game doesn't handle quite like other racing games, which is as much a testament to the world of Formula One racing as it is to the game itself. A racing wheel is undoubtedly the preferred option to drive, but even with a gamepad, the controls feel sufficiently nuanced. Proper braking and throttle restraint is just as important as steering, and the handling model of the game seems to nail that perfectly. The system rewards good driving as much as it punishes sloppy mistakes, and it's that balance that makes each lap enjoyable on its own merits.

Somewhat unique is the game's use of communication from your pit crew. You have a handler in your ear who is thankfully silent for most of the time, but when he speaks up, it is usually good information. Most often, he provides updates, such as how far ahead or behind you are relative to the cars around you, what tire type the guy your opponent has, or if he is predicted to be conserving fuel. He'll also pipe up if you've driven off the track to warn that your tires have picked up some grip-reducing debris, or if your car has taken damage and should be brought in to pit.

With that said, the damage that your car takes in the preview build of the game felt underwhelming. Hard impacts will get you a penalty if you've set the rules accordingly, but even on the realistic damage setting, your car seems to be built out of unbreakable materials. You'll take damage eventually, but I'm hopeful that impacts with other cars or the track barriers will cause more damage in the final build. Once you finally break something or puncture a tire, you'll certainly feel it in the handling.

The game features standard one-off races and a career mode that was locked in the preview build. There are also scenario races that often reflect recent race events in F1's history. These scenarios start you in the middle of the race and task you with specific goals, such as making up positions after a pit stop or using a rival's engine troubles to catch up. These scenarios do a great job of compressing the drama that can occur during a race, but they do so in gameplay chunks that can be digested in a short amount of time. To keep you coming back, these scenarios are scored, so you can compete on leaderboards to see who completed them the best.

F1 2014 is shaping up to effectively bridge the gap between being accessible and staying true to the accuracy of the races. Casual players can jump into a trimmed-down race with little difficulty, whereas hardened racers can test their mettle by racing through the pouring rain on a night track with a Ferrari breathing down their necks.  Check out the title when it hits the racetrack next month.

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