STAFF REVIEW of F1 2014 (Xbox 360)

Monday, November 17, 2014.
by Brent Roberts

F1 2014 Box art Delivering an arcade racing game is fairly easy compared to trying to produce a simulation, and Codemasters tries to do just that in F1 2014. With racing that involves razor sharp precision and demands a high amount of attention, to say that Codemasters has a hard time overcoming the highs and lows of F1 2013 is a tremendous understatement. This time we take note of what this new installment has to offer but most importantly we question is it really worth the purchase? Start your engines.

To begin our driving experience we have to note that this year features a diminished amount of content. Not in cars or tracks as those have increased but rather in the modes of play available. Last year the acclaimed "classic" mode really helped bring this series to a whole new level and sadly that is gone and it feels like a slight step backwards. What's there though are your career, scenario and rival modes. Career mode allows you to choose between a short season (seven races), all the way up to a full season (of 19 straight races). It's here where you will also find your seasonal challenges and evaluation test (to determine what difficulty you should be playing this game). Scenario mode allows you be placed into a certain situation from which it is up to you to snatch a victory and is quite interesting when you are given selections that no rational thinking person on earth would choose. While some are just quick and easy pick up and play modes, others require you to hone your nerves to the point where they can shatter atoms in order to have a successful race.

Earlier we mentioned that you need to have laser like focus and that is so true due to the fact that this simulator is very, very, hard. As the game begins it doesn't do much in terms of educating you in the ways of driving an F1 car. Instead Codemasters throws you blindly deep into pool and says "Now let's see how you drive." You may think that just pressing the gas and break are all you need to think about, yet there are many more environmental aspects to consider in order to win the race and the season overall. Everything from proper speeds into the apex of a corner to finding the correct line while managing your tire wear, and properly balancing your pit stops with your fuel level and race statistics are all things that you must be aware of at all times. Now this game does not provide the same quality of detail you would find in a Forza game, however, there still are some tuning options that you can use to help set the car up so you can claim that all important edge.

Even though the learning curve is incredibly steep, your eyes will enjoy tearing through various courses around the world. While not on the levels of what we can expect from Forza, the F1 cars do appear to steal the show, even though there are some texture issues that plague even the new models and the 360 feels antiquated in terms of visual appeal. However do you buy a racing game to look at the cars and drive the cars or look at the drivers and the environments? It's a shame as well because while the attention to the cars is the primary focus, the environment doesn't receive the same love and even though you may have some new courses to drive on, don't have high expectations and you won't be disappointed. I do have to say though, on a personal note, that flying through the rain while blinding the cars behind me with a huge rooster tail of water was particularly enjoyable to watch in the replay.

Of course with a new release you will find some tweaking to the gameplay mechanics and maybe a new car and course or two but what really struck my ear was how these machines sound. F1 is known globally for providing cars that when flying by seem to shatter the sound barrier at ear deafening pitches and even though there may be some unity in terms of power and design between the cars, every engine sounded unique and that's something my ears loved to hear. It really does feel like an intense simulating driving experience when you are tearing around corners while hearing the engine roar in between gear changes and your pit crew chimes in on your headset to let you know of your stats during the race along with any pertinent information on the race itself. If you are someone who has never heard the scream of an F1 engine before, then you are in for a treat. If, however, you are looking for the psychotic atmosphere of thousands of die-hard international F1 fans, then look somewhere else. If you watch F1 on TV like I do, you can’t help but to take notice of just how passionate F1 fans can be. Massive flags that represent not only automotive pride but the pride of a nation fly free as the shouts of joy mix with the tears of sadness. This sonic event isn't felt anywhere in F1 2014 to the degree that it should be and that is actually quite frustrating.

If you are in search for an arcade racing game that will allow you to bounce off of other cars as you bash your way to the finish, you won't find it here. Instead you will find an unforgiving racing simulator that takes a lot of the excess "fluff" out of racing games and instead forces you to deliver with sniper rifle accuracy. While all of this game could stand some improvement, it is a solid entry in the F1 series of games, however, when you factor in the few extra cars and tracks at your disposal this time you may actually ask yourself why would you ever want to upgrade at full retail price? You lose modes of gameplay at a sacrifice of a minimal increase in content, but yet you are asked to pay full retail price for this game. Is it worth it? I don't see how it could be, and that’s the worst part about it.

I wanted to cheer on my McLaren team as it took on the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and more, but in the end I was left with a dream that has yet to come true and a viciously brutal game designed to test your ability to drive and if, god forbid, you should make a mistake will rip your head clean from your body and laugh at you. Codemasters is on the cusp of something really incredible in the world of F1 racing, but disappointingly, F1 2014 isn't it.

Overall: 6.7 / 10
Gameplay: 6.1 / 10
Visuals: 7.2 / 10
Sound: 6.9 / 10


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