Codemasters’ hugely anticipated sequel, F1 2011, hit the shelves this week. Despite our already-documented difficulties in getting involved in its promotion, this remains one of the most widely-anticipated gaming releases of the year.

F1 2011 The game’s predecessor, F1 2010, generally received positive reviews when it was revealed last year, but the game did come with some flaws and some very embarrassing bugs.

But Codemasters have offered assurances that its new title is more than just an updated title with a few extra circuits and some new car liveries. Their claim is that F1 2011 surpasses F1 2010 in a multitude of ways.

You’d certainly hope so after the pasting that some aspects of the game received, but does it actually pass muster? The Richard’s F1 team has a look…


What’s new?

Not only were the game’s developers seemingly hard at work understanding and fixing the bugs in its predecessor, but the boffins were also beavering away to make sure that F1 2011 stood up to the test of being a truly accurate sim of the actual 2011 Formula 1 season.

And mirroring the rules changes that have occurred ahead of the 2011 season, in have come the Drag Reduction (DRS) and Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS).

More than before, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your controllers or steering wheel properly configured, as you’re going to be pressing plenty of buttons on every lap.

The free use of the DRS during practice and qualifying certainly tests your reflexes as the car’s handling characteristics change with the opening and shutting of the rear wing flap.

KERS is only available on the cars actually equipped to run it, and it’ll certainly add to the gaming experience as you can use it to attempt to pass a rival, but also to stop a chasing car from getting by you.

Undoubtedly, one of the most talked-about features of F1 2011 is the advent of the safety car, which comes as part of a revised race environment where the race can also be red-flagged if the circuit is completely blocked.

When it does make an appearance (for race distances of 20% or over only), cars queue up behind it until it peels off into the pits. Your speed is controlled rather heavy-handedly by an automatic control, meaning your chances of getting a jump on your rivals after it pulls in are pretty limited.

By and large, the new additions are cosmetic. The new Indian Grand Prix circuit at New Delhi makes its first appearance, and will no doubt leave many fans wondering if that’s how the real thing will look (assuming it’s finished!). The Nurburgring is also on-hand for the first time, with F1 2010 having Hockenheim, to mirror the calendar.

The cars are once again beautifully rendered, and F1 2010 also gives you a team-specific steering wheel, complete with fully functioning LED meters for KERS!

Mechanical failure are also a new advent, and both you and your rivals are now at risk of technical failures which could scupper your chance to perfect your set-up or collect more championship points.


What’s improved?

The number and seriousness of bugs in F1 2010 will have many gaming fans electing to wait a few weeks before committing to purchase F1 2011, no doubt hoping that the sequel is an infinitely more finished product.

And it would largely be the case. The developers have worked to improve many facets of the gaming experience, particularly the multiplayer experience.

You can now race against a rival on the same machine using a split-screen mode. Now, up to 16 people can join in one any one race, with the remaining eight cars being computer-operated.


And the weaknesses?

Despite there being plenty of improvements from F1 2010, there are a few niggling issues with F1 2011 that you should be aware of.

Again, you’re unable to see what else is happening during the race, which will again undermine some fans’ belief in the authenticity of the racing in the game.

Thankfully, the penalties system appears to have relaxed a little bit, and there seems to be no issues with the widely-reported pit stop bug from F1 2010 rearing its head in the sequel.

Crash modelling is still a little strange, and the cars seem to shed parts of the car a little unrealistically at times.

And yet there were other times where the game wanted to avoid an accident. We saw a few instances of cars occupying the same piece of track and ‘merging’ into one another?


Overall Verdict?

F1 2011 offers plenty of new features to tempt back those who bought last year’s title, and for fans of online gaming, there are plenty of boxes that have been ticked.

In summary…

  • The Pros: Huge attention to detail; many of the ‘known’ F1 2010 bugs are eradicated. An all-round excellent racing sim.
  • The Cons: Still a few bugs here and there; ‘race director’ view is non-existent
  • Why play it? If you want the closest thing to a modern-day F1 sim – and one tied with an effective and challenging Career Mode – this is it.
  • All in all, it’s an entertaining title that has improved on its predecessor in many ways. But there’s still some work to do to transform it from being a very good game into a true classic.

    Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award F1 2010

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.