And they're off!
After an absence of 3 years, Formula 1 finally returned to home consoles in 2010 with the Codemasters-developed F1 2010. The brother of GRID, based on the EGO engine, F1 2010 was a critical and commercial success, winning a BAFTA and selling millions of copies. Obviously, the success was very encouraging for Codemasters and, after the relative failure of Bodycount, helped persuade them to focus on what they do best: Racing games. After all, the company made Dirt, Grid, F1 2010 and various predecessors. They do them well. Very well.
Aiming to continue this veritable 'who's who' of racing giants is F1 2011. After so many changes with the rules of Formula One, the game has to stand the test of changing from 'GRID with F1 Cars' to its own separate entity, with its own unique feel and gameplay. Does F1 2011 overtake last year's instalment and take a podium finish, or does it simply score points for a well-placed, if unspectacular, drive?
He's made the car his own!
The first thing that strikes you about F1 2011 is its presentation. Gone is the resemblance to its older brother. In its place is an entirely new interface, which is somewhat influenced by the television-style presentation you would see if you watch Formula 1 at a weekend on television. With a more streamlined and unique look, F1 2011's menus and HUD compliment the updated roster, cars and tracks, making the game the definitive F1 experience to date.
Graphically, however, there hasn't been such a massive improvement. The character models outside of the car (in the paddock) look horrible and the graphics blur quite badly in places. Couple these with framerate slow-down that is easily noticeable and occurs fairly often, and there's clearly not an improvement. However, there has been a bit of polish on the look of the cars and tracks, and that helps it to be a slight improvement on the visuals of its predecessor, which is commendable. The polish would be fine, if the problems were not there.
F1 2011 has returned to the track with a whole host of renovations and new modes, providing the avid racer and F1 fanatic alike with plenty to do in terms of Gamemodes. The Career mode has returned in an evolved state. There are changes to the aesthetics of the career, such as the agent no longer sitting dauntingly in your trailer in a permanent state of co-habitation and now content to send emails instead. More important, however, are the changes to the mechanics. Do you have a friend or spouse who loves Formula 1 as much as you do? Well, now you can do a 2 player co-op career, either in split-screen or online, with you both occupying a seat at the same team. This is a brilliant addition to the game, making it worth it if you're at all competitive or sociable.
If you are a competitive soul, you may spend plenty of time in the Proving Grounds as well. The Proving Grounds is the home for the Time Trial and Time Attack modes, as well as access to leaderboards. If you're a junkie for getting the fastest times out of your friends, odds are you will spend a lot of time here. If you just want to learn the tracks, you can do it here or in practice sessions in the Career mode. If you're strapped for time, the final of the 'offline' modes is Grand Prix mode. Want to have a race on your favourite track as your favourite driver by yourself? What, are you scared to venture online due to everyone hogging Vettel and screaming abuse at you down the microphone? Do you not have the commitment to see through a long career working your way up? Here's the mode for you to use. Single race. Single Driver. Now, get out. You disgust me.
A whole host of new modes, aesthetic changes and updates.
Graphical problems outside of the cars and tracks. Some irritating framerate drops. The presence of a VIP pass required to access online multiplayer. Split-screen support for only two players.