Expectations were set justifiably high for F1 2016 when the Formula 1 motorsport game was released. After all, the previous entry had been something of a stopgap while the team properly got to grips with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.
The first thing to note about F1 2016: it brought back Career Mode and expanded it to a full 10 seasons rather than the five in previous titles. This is a definite plus, as it more fully allows you to climb up through the ranks of the various teams before establishing yourself in one of the frontrunning cars.
Nothing has changed much in terms of how this mode plays out, though. If you have played any of Codemaster’s Formula 1 releases, you will be very familiar with how Career Mode progresses. Performing well in races and exceeding your team’s expectations will see your standing rise, while it will conversely fall if you crash out or just flat out underperform.
There are also a number of things to do outside of races. This includes a full set of practice sessions where you can fine tune your setup for each particular race. You can modify plenty of characteristics to suit your own driving style and the individual track. It’s very comprehensive, putting you in ultimate charge of your performance so you know who is responsible for that lap time in qualifying.
Practice sessions have the added benefit of providing the opportunity to earn some resource points. These can be used to upgrade the car’s performance through four main areas. Completing tasks such as track acclimatization or fuel conservation runs will reward points, as will meeting certain objectives like setting a particular lap time. This is a neat idea and really invests you in the research and development of your own car, letting you choose which direction to go in with improvements so it better suits your strengths. Combined together, these elements of the Career Mode give it real depth and let you experience, at least partly, what it might be like to be a genuine Formula 1 driver.
Gameplay-wise, F1 2016 is more of an evolution than a revolution. One notable change is that you now have more control of the start procedure at the beginning of the race. You now have to hold in the clutch and build up the revs before letting it go at the right time for the perfect start. To be honest, it is a tricky thing to master, but this adds some jeopardy to races and allows you to really gain some places if you nail it. Handling, tire wear, and the behavior of the AI drivers is much the same as its predecessors. There is no notable improvement to any area: everything just seems responsive and finely balanced.
What is great is the ability to switch up the difficulty of the game. Experienced racers might want to turn off all the driving aids and go for full weeks, which include three practice sessions, qualifying, and a 90-minute race. Others might want a bit more flexibility when it comes to enforcing the rules. The options available give you the chance to make those decisions. Perhaps the best thing about this is it allows you to slowly become a better driver by turning off things like traction control and ABS braking as you get more confident in your ability. Yet, you never have to make a huge step that would leave you uncomfortable.
Audio and Visuals
Graphically, F1 2016 is a step up from the previous year’s installment. Each track is replicated in incredible detail and so are the individual Formula 1 cars. The visuals really come alive during rainy sessions when the tarmac is soaked, creating some stunning imagery.
The same is true of the audio. The cars sound fantastic, especially if you have a surround sound system or good headphones that can really show off the deep grumbling of the engines or the squeal of tires.
F1 2016 even has a few great multiplayer options. For those wanting to just jump into a race against others, there are matchmaking options that range from completing just three laps up until 25% of a full Grand Prix. Those wanting a proper challenge against their friends can opt for the multiplayer championship, allowing you to face off across an entire season in much the same way as the Career Mode.
F1 2016 is undoubtedly a huge improvement over F1 2015, bringing back a more expansive career mode and extra features to next generation consoles. It is such an accurate representation of real life Formula 1 that it begins to blur the line between video game and simulator, yet it still manages to maintain plenty of fun. Codemasters has managed to make a game that is accessible to newcomers but satisfying for hardcore racers who really want a challenge.