Driving an F1 car is an extremely difficult task while managing an F1 team is arguably more difficult. Codemasters brand new My Team mode for F1 2020 gives the player an opportunity to take on both of these roles, so not only is the player responsible to hit the summit, they need to create and organise a team that can produce a car that wins championships. All this makes for the most authentic F1 experience yet.
Within the racing simulator genre, F1 2020 sits above all competition though its depth, racing and how the customizable difficulty setting creates a perfect amount of challenge for either veterans or casual newcomers. There is more to it than just driving and team management; fuel consumption, tyre wear, engine temperature and the chassis need to be closely managed in order to cross the finish line, and for anyone that has limited knowledge of what goes into the sport, this game offers a lot in the way of a learning experience. It really proves itself as a “simulation” without any downfall of being at all dull.
My Team brings more to the table than there has ever been in an F1 game before. Select from one of forty-eight avatars; create a car livery and team badge, then set upon the roster as a brand new franchise looking to take the championship home. From the beginning the player is required to decide the extensive team they want, from the manufacturer of the engine, to the teammate that drives alongside them, and doing this with the limited amount of money makes the choices challenging.
Take control of the team in all Reach & Design Departments, looking after the chassis, durability, aerodynamics and powertrain. All in their own way these departments improve the performance of the vehicle and each have a skill tree like setup where resource points, which can be earned through driving, are spent in order to upgrade. Money earned can also be used to upgrade these departments and depending which one finances are poured into; it changes the way the car controls out on the track. In between racing events the player can assign activities for the team that can give a boost to specific departments and cash or experience earned. Answering questions from the press pre or post drive can also positively or negatively affect the team and specific departments.
All these aspects of managing the team come down to the race weekend, three practice sessions, qualifying and the race day; with twenty-two races on the card there is no two races the same. Knowing each section of a track is pivotal to a good performance and often being front of the grid after a fast qualifying lap will give the player the edge over the rest of the drivers. Along with the importance of track knowledge, practice sessions give the player an opportunity to gain resource points through various challenges like fuel management, tyre management, qualifying pace etc. And also to get a feel for the car setup, which is customizable to fit accordingly with certain weather or tracks. Some races can be long, but the best part is it is easy enough to hit pause and jump on parenting duties if need be, which will of course happen from time to time.
If the player has no interest in the managerial side of things and just wants to stick tyres to tarmac, the Driver Career is still available, which includes the F2 class as an introduction to the more challenging F1. The player can also race in time trials, create custom championships and grand prix where they can compete as any current F1 driver in their branded car, F2 or classic F1. Splitscreen is also available, which is a nice addition to any modern game.
Multiplayer is fun, very fun. Whether ranked or unranked, it seems that the vast majority of players actually want to race and not have a demolition derby like a lot of other online racing games. Players with a poor connection just appear as a ghost car, so if they do lag spike across the width of the track there is no risk of collision. Being as authentic as this game is, it is good to find fans that genuinely want to get the best times rather than run their opponents off the track. I have to say, getting a podium finish against twenty-one other drivers, especially after qualifying in the middle of the pack, is very rewarding.
There is no better feeling when a chain of corners is completed to perfection, like poetry in motion, knowing in the back of the mind that one small slip up will cause a ten car pile-up on the fourth corner. There is a game within a game here, knowing when to use or save the ERS battery charge in order to get a slight power boost over your opponents at just the right time, or adjusting from braking entering corners in to just easing off the throttle in order to make it to the pits and refuel. I got caught once with low fuel at the end of a race and blew my chance at a podium finish within the last four corners of an eighteen lap race, it was devastating. The weather plays a pivotal role, meaning that the forecast is something that has to be closely followed. One practice session can see the player fit three different sets of tyres with the day starting overcast and by the end the track is aquaplane city.
Graphically, even in comparison to other driving simulators, this game falls a little bit short, and although the photo mode can capture an awesome moment of action, watching a replay of a race does not appear as real like some titles do in this generation. It is easy to decipher which driver is which, but the character movement and models look a bit robotic. It does the job but it is disappointing that Codemasters haven’t develop their graphics at a more similar level to of Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport.
Overall this is a great racing experience, whether being an F1 fan or not. The racing feels real, with its race management and precise cornering. It is like a really fast and exhilarating game of chess; always needing to be two moves ahead. For any fans of the racing genre this is a must have, it could be a while until we see another one as good as this.
+ Realistic weather
+ My Team mode
+ Rewarding gameplay
– Falls short graphically for this generation
Brando for One More Game
F1 2020 was reviewed on an Xbox One X, it is also available for PlayStation 4 and PC for around $99.95 AUD.
The publisher provided a game review code. The thoughts on this title were ours and ours alone.