Archive for F1

F1 2019 or When More of the Same can be Just Good Enough

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , on July 18, 2019 by Rabidgames

Sometimes, an annual game can still be worth getting when there are mostly just small changes to the formula. F1 2019 might well be such a game, especially seeing how fucking boring the real Formula 1 has become. Sure, F1 2019 has some questionable penalties from the stewards, but nothing as arbitrary as the real thing …

The first thing you notice in F1 2019 is the graphical upgrade – especially races at dusk (or dawn) look stunning now. And sure, part of it might be the XBox One X’s enhanced capabilities, but the game runs a bit smoother than last year’s, too. And the lighting looks great on all platforms, especially if you drive around a circuit at night!

Then, you can play either an entire season in the F2 or you can start your career there (for now, there’s the 2018 grid, but the updated drivers of this year will follow in a free update later this year). Well, as for your career, the game is still called F1 2019 so you only drive in that series for a couple of races before being promoted to Formula 1 together with a friend and a not so friendly rival. Another new feature there is that drivers actually swap seats. It’s rather unlikely you’ll see Hamilton in a Williams, Leclerc in a Mercedes or Vettel not crashing his car, but hey, it adds some dynamics to the game so we’ll take it.

Of course, F1 2019 comes with a ton of classic cars again, and as before, it’s great fun to try them and compare them to the modern-day DRS monsters. The official real-life F1 HUD makes the game look a little bit more authentic, which is of course welcome.If you like esports,  gives you a nice package, too: You can customise your driver and your car design pretty freely, there are weekly events and also leagues now. If that interests you, check it out. Also, it often ends in pure chaos, as one would expect.

Sadly, some of the problems from last year are still in F1 2019: the interviews are often more miss than hit, some penalties seem a bit harsh, the AI is braindead on easy but smells your overtaking strategies on higher difficulties from miles away to easily block you, he story is a bit too clichéd and voice overs don’t always deliver. It can be quite annoying, yes, but never ends up being game-changingly frustrating.

At the chequered flag, none of the small issues matter now: F1 2019 is the latest step of the evolution of the series. It sits comfortably on the arcade-side of simulations or the simulation-side of arcade-racing games, it gives you tons of options and settings and optimisations if you want them, and the often tiny tweaks and additions just elevate it a bit more – without raising it to a new level.

Rabidgames’ verdict: DO NOT BUY if you have no interest in Formula 1, racing games or a mix of arcade and simulation racing. Especially for arcade-racers, this game might quickly become too overwhelming and too hard to get into.

THINK ABOUT BUYING if you already have last year’s F1 game. If you have no interest in the tweaks or the F2 roster, you might want to wait until later.

GO BUY if you love or loved Formula 1 or if you like to micromanage your career step by step. Or get if you’re bored with the incredibly boring Mercedes dominance. Just be careful of Vettel’s Ferrari behind you …

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F1 2018 or A Micro-Evolutionary Status Quo

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , on August 22, 2018 by Rabidgames

To be honest, most of F1 2018 could be summed up with one sentence. “An evolution of last year’s games with minor changes and improvements”. That wouldn’t be wrong for the most part. If you liked last year’s game, you will like this game. If you didn’t, chances are you won’t unless halo and interviews with the press are massive improvements in your mind.

First halo … It is dead-ugly in real life, and it is dead-ugly in the game. This is not the place to justify its mere existence or not, but aesthetically, it’s disgusting. But we’re stuck with it now, so what can we do?

The other big “new” addition (quotes because it’s technically just an old feature introduced again) to F1 2018 is interviews; in-between sessions, you can answer questions from the press. This can change the attitude of your team to you a little bit – but if you role-play Maldonado and crash your car left and right, it won’t do much anyway. Sadly, F1 2018 only goes baby steps there – you can’t be a total jerk or doodle on your mobile during interviews, and you can’t put the blame on the stewards and tell them to fuck off with their fucking arbitrary bullshit either. It’s all very tame and civil.

So yeah, the main thing of course is on the track. And on the track … well, F1 2018 is pretty much a lightly improved F1 2017 there. Sure, you can race in Hockenheim this year and there are more classic cars, but all in all, the pretty decent driving action and the relatively slick presentation (yes, looking at you, PES!) has remained the same. You can play the game as arcade or as simulation, you can play around with a million settings and sliders as much as you like, and F1 2018 will be responsive to all your changes. Oh, and if you like online racing against humans, the game will now pool you with racers with similar abilities. We’ll see how that works. It might have some merits, but imagine a full of grid of Maldonados and Grosjeans …

Sadly, the AI is also still hit and miss in F1 2018 – sometimes, it feels realistic, but sometimes, half the grid gets disqualified in a Monaco race. Sometimes, the AI drives hard but fair, but sometimes, they just hit you in the back in practice sessions because they expect a slower car to give way in a hairpin turn! It’s insane. But good news, you can enjoy quite some Destruction Derby fun in F1 2018 if you like … Have we mentioned Maldonado before?

Another odd thing in F1 2018 is that you can test out the tracks in time trial and your first “task” so to speak is to beat a “Default Ghost” … thing is, those ghosts are easily beatable in the dry, but if you choose wet conditions, you have to be perfect – they drive flawlessly in poring rain, which seems pretty odd considering how slow they are in dry conditions …

Sure, those small issues aside, F1 2018 is an optimised game in many regards, but as it often is with annual games, the optimisation doesn’t bring much change. It’s still the number one game for Formula 1 fans, and for both the hardcore simulation folks as well as the casual racing driver who wants to unwind or maybe learn the lay of the land ahead of the next F1 Grand Prix. But if you’re looking at real innovation, you’re looking at the wrong racing game.

Rabidgames’ verdict: Don’t buy if you prefer simple arcade racing or you still enjoy last year’s game, and you’re not looking for a game with only a few updates (and if you couldn’t care less about interviews).

Do buy if you’re a big massive F1 fan or if you want an up-to-date racing game with plenty of customization possibilities and an even deeper career mode. If you don’t mind the small updates.

F1 2017 or More Real Than the Real Thing?

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , on August 29, 2017 by Rabidgames

In a nutshell, F1 2017 takes all the good stuff from last year’s F1 2016, gives us a bit more of it and then adds some stuff. The game boasts of being the most complete F1 game to date, and for once, that PR statement is actually true.

Not only is the career mode of F1 2017 deeper and more detailed than last year – you can now develop your driver and your car over 10 seasons, and grid penalties for engine failures are sadly also included (this being of the dumbest FIA ideas ever), but generally speaking, you’ll need to put more work into it. But there are more rewards than merely becoming world champion; you’ll get invited to some events where you can race classic F1 cars from the past, including Ayrton Senna’s iconic McLaren from 1988 (sadly it’s pre-order only for now, which is obviously a dick move), and then some more McLarens, Ferraris, Renaults and Red Bulls from over 2 decades.

What’s kinda odd is that the older cars in F1 2017 tend to fall apart quicker and easier – maybe not too unrealistic one might think, but still it seems to be a weird design decision. Then again, let’s face it – crashing cars in racing games has always been fun!

Obviously, the cars have no DRS and the cockpits look pretty different as well, but they also drive and sound differently (one could say they sound like any damn F1 car should sound). Besides the invitational events in the career, you can play any race with the classic car. It’s a shame though that F1 2017 doesn’t give us classic drivers as well. You race random names when sitting in a classic car, which seems a missed opportunity.

And F1 2017 doesn’t stop here – you can also find a variety of diverse championships in the new championships mode, where you can race shorter or linger seasons, either a full weekend with training, qualifying and race, just the race, or some other combinations, e.g. a sprint race followed by a normal race. Additionally, there is an Event mode where Codemasters asks us to complete a challenging race, e.g. winning a race with a broken front wing.

The amount of detail in F1 2017 is definitely breath taking – each car seems to have been rebuilt to look like the real-life cars, the tracks look stunning – especially in the rain or the newly added Monaco night-race are something to behold (although you should probably rather focus on the track in wet conditions). Oh, and there are also 4 shorter versions of the circuits there for your entertainment, too …

So far, everything sounds great. Well, the devil is a bit in the detail with F1 2017: Sometimes, the first corner is quite chaotic, and then you get hit out of nowhere. And then, you get a penalty for getting hit! Sure, this has only happened a few times, and it might be a realistic portrayal of the arbitrary penalties the FIA dishes out in the real F1, but it can be quite annoying. At the same time, there is no apparent logic to the penalties – from a caution to a +3 second penalty to nothing, everything can happen if you hit a car – sometimes you get even different results after rewinding and hitting the car again …

And then, there’s last year’s dilemma, too – the game is pretty much a simulation for rather casual racers like yours truly, while simulation racers might think it is lacking a bit in that respect. But even if an entire championship seems to much for you, F1 2017 is pretty much worth it for every F1 fan who happens to at least like racing games – you can either relive the full weekend, you can enjoy a shorter campaign with sprint races without the hassle of a career, or you can just get to know the track of the weekend via Time Trial – F1 2017 has lots to offer for every kind of racer.

Rabidgames : For two years in a row now, Codemasters delivers a strong racing game. It might be somewhat in the middle between casual racing and unforgiving simulation, but for F1 fans who like to hear that nice old sound while also trying their hands on different cars from different eras, it’s perfect. 

F1 2016 or Poles, Crashes and Glory

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , on August 23, 2016 by Rabidgames

Great games always use their engines as backdrops for the stories we can write. F1 2016 tells a lot of stories, and yes, even the first racing weekend of the season can include all the twists and turns Formula 1 has to offer. But let’s cover the basics first, let’s come back to that race later.

Remember F1 2015, the tech demo lacking content? While last year’s instalment felt like a crash just after the start, F1 2016 easily goes the full distance, although there are a few safety car sessions in there as well …

First of all, content-wise, there are no more previous season or classic modes any more, but F1 2016 comes with a massive career mode at its heart, making you really feel like a F1 driver – and you’re not just living the triumph and victories, the crashes and technical failures, you’re also having to work hard for it to make your success happen. Oh, and sometimes, spectacular, yet physically not absolutely correct crashes happen:

If you’re like Rabidgames and you pretty much suck at racing games, the game actually poses quite a challenge even on easy and with all driving assists activated – you really need to focus throughout the circuits, and in races, one tiny mistake can mean ruined tyres and being 10th instead of on the podium! F1 2016 is a game that asks you to study the tracks hard before you can reap the rewards.

While you can create your driver, the creation suite is a rather sad state affairs – maybe 12 face models with hardly anything to change, a few helmet designs, and that’s it … a bit sad for 2016. But hey, at least you can lead small countries such as Luxembourg or San Marino to their first ever Formula 1 victory! Afterwards, you can choose your team freely now in F1 2016 – but be careful, a top team Mercedes expects you to become world champion while Manor is happy with you grabbing perhaps a point or two …

But as soon as you created your driver and go through the first tutorials, the depth of F1 2016 shines through – while you can simply jump straight into your first free practice session to get to know the track, you can also play around with the settings to get to know which car settings suit your playstyle best. As a nice and well-integrated bonus, you can also earn points by fulfilling certain conditions throughout the weekend – from learning how to get your tyres working to outracing your dedicated rival, those points will help you developing your car throughout the season, so it is highly recommended to do so.

Back to the first race weekend of the season – after using the free practice sessions to get accustomed to the circuit and the gameplay of F1 2016, and after noticing the AI drivers have never heard about making way for faster cars the hard way, Rabidgames managed to qualify the Toro Rosso on the pole – which is quite easy with a somewhat decent lap on easy difficulty.Choosing 25% of the original distance, which equals 15 laps in Australia, felt long enough for the first race.

The formation lap went a bit wrong though after getting overtaken by a few cars that didn’t make way which is part of the regulations, yours truly failed at the start and ended up 4th … Only to get back to 1st within a few laps, unfortunately damaging the front wing so when boxing after lap 8, the front wing had to be changed which kicked Rabidgames’ Luxembourgian driver back to 7th. After a few overtakings and a few cars boxing though, it was back to first place.

But then came the rain. Visually beautifully looking rain, and rainy conditions is where F1 2016 looks stunning. Problem is, rain and old tyres aren’t exactly a fun combination, and while Ricciardo could be fought off after he made a mistake and left the track after a collision, Räikkönen felt comfortably fine with the rain. Fortunately, the rain became so hard that the box recommended putting on intermediates in the final lap, which was insane as Räikkönen didn’t pit so with both cars struggling, Rabidgames managed to somehow slide the car to the chequered flag, meaning a historical first race victory for Luxembourg!

Truth be told, doing all of that on easy and with most assists activated might diminish the feat, but for a racing noob, it still felt hard and challenging. F1 2016 asks quite a lot from inexperienced racers on easy difficulties, where mistakes are punished quickly. Yes, you can rewind to before the accident, but that’s really cheating now!

As you can see, lots of things can happen in F1 2016, and that was just one race! However, the A.I. is far from perfect and while you pretty push a car off the tracks, sometimes you get punished for leaving the track although lost time and positions … which seems odd.

Apart from the career mode, there’s a season mode with all current drivers (feeling kind of superfluous), a custom race/season mode, time trials which let you race against others players’ online times, and then F1 2016 also offers multiplayer (single races or an entire championship, that’s up to you) with up to 22 drivers. One weird thing is that A.I. cars become transparent during online races, which is a very weird design choice … But apart from this and some lag that can appear at times, it is actually lots of fun to just watch online races, too, as quite a few pan out like the one below:

So, who should play F1 2016? The obvious answer is Formula 1 fans, of course! What better way to start into a race weekend than power on your console and get to know the track yourself so you can laugh at drivers making mistakes later? Or maybe just spend a few races crashing into that one driver that always gets you mad?

Furthermore, the game should also be suited to racing pros who prefer Assetto Corsa, Forza or Gran Turismo, but then again, it’s hard to say how hardcore F1 2016 is when you’re not a big racing fan yourself, and it’s also difficult to judge the flaws of this game (A.I., punishment system, online lags) against the competition.

One thing is for sure though – for the best experience of F1 2016, a racing wheel is almost mandatory – while it is okay in the dry with new tyres, as soon as you have wet conditions and/or older tyres, the controller just feels inaccurate. Obviously, you should be a die-hard racer who keeps playing racing games for a long time …

Rabidgames admits: For amateur console racers, F1 2016 offers a lot, but it may offer a bit too much as well – if you don’t really know the tracks and just want to play the game in short bursts, you won’t go too far with the game. If you have patience and you’re willing to learn every nook and corner of the F1 business though, this game and the drama, the victories and the defeats of Formula 1 should be yours. And please, for the love of Ayrton Senna and the other greats, let’s have another team but Mercedes win races!