REVIEW: F1 2020
When’s the last time you played a Formula One game? For some of you out there, you haven’t! For some, you buy every single year, just like hardcore Fifa fans. With F1 2020, does Codemasters do enough to keep fans happy and attract new ones? Let’s find out in our review.
Let’s be honest, Formula 1 games in recent years have proven themselves to be some of the most reliably great simulations of F1 in video games we’ve seen. I’ve always had a soft spot for F1 games, experiencing the highs and lows of practice, qualifying, fighting my way through a pack and especially… especially wet races. You’ll imagine my excitement when I got a code to review F1 2020 (reviewed on an XBox One X) and got to see what a F1 game looks like in 2020. This video below is a great example of just how far they’ve come. F1 2020 looks even better!
A quick recap for those of you who might not have played or watched in a while, we have to talk about some new elements like DRS or the overtake button. This means in certain straights around the track you can get speed boosts if there’s someone close to overtake or an extra bit of boost on demand with ERS but this does sacrifice battery which you can regenerate via braking. It adds a nice bit of strategy to the game and sport. These elements were introduced to F1 in real life to make it feel a bit more exciting and it does! I hope the bosses thanked the video games they would have gotten inspiration from. Races are more exciting, more tactical and it’s a great addition to the sport that works great in video game form. Outside that, F1 2020 races are fairly familiar but I do like the addition of objectives in practicing that give you research and development points to upgrade your car. These could be a mix of driving through gates, minding your fuel consumption or testing your tire usage. It helps you learn each track, get used to upgrades and they’re fun addition to make practicing finally fun!
This is all backed up with a ‘My Team’ mode, a way to start your own team, design how it looks, how your cars drive, who your second driver is… it is (pun intended) designed to put you in the driving seat across a 10 year season. It’s a great way to make the yearly F1 game feel a bit deeper and instead of starting the season in the fastest car and getting bored after a few races, this makes you fight your way up the field. It’s a superb addition, with being able to control your research and development as a team, choosing sponsors, engine suppliers and more. It’s incredibly deep and as challenging as you like with a difficulty level you can truly customise to your experience – be it casual or pro. I really did like the addition of a difficulty level you can control from 1-100 so you can fine tune how much of a challenge you’d like. Combine this with split screen multiplayer, online multiplayer and new circuits there’s a lot to do here for new and existing comers to F1 2020.
Now, what didn’t go so well? I have to say, despite the new accessible handling experience, F1 2020 is still quite inaccessible. A kid picking this game up is not going to understand the ins and outs of ERS or DRS and the game does little to help (baring a few hard to find instruction pages). I really wish there was an intro race, maybe as your old team in the My Team mode, where you have your final race and get introduced to some of the game’s unique features that do need some education during the race. While I see what Codemasters are doing with the mode, there’s a lot they can explore here for future additions. Even looking at Fifa and how they’ve managed to keep people interested with telling Hunter’s story, this would be perfect. Starting off as a driver, then becoming a manager with enhanced cutscenes and choices in PR meetings. I’d have also appreciated some more variety – with a handful of special invitationals there could have been a ton of classic races I’d love to have revisited with the game especially as the deluxe version is focused around Michael Schumacher‘sa career. Feels like a missed opportunity.
Notice how I haven’t really commented on sound, graphics etc? They’re as good as you’d want for a racing sim. Racing is locked at a firm 60 FPS, even for base Xbox Ones I hear. Graphics look incredible in F1 2020, especially in photo mode. I also really appreciated the difference weather and time of day plays with how tracks look. Monaco on a sunny day vs the teaming rain is quite a difference. Sound is authentic but hear me out, I wouldn’t have minded the option to have some music in the background.
Honestly, my biggest gripe with F1 2020 was how you would communicate with your pit during a race. Your hand has to do quite the gymnastics to scroll through options upon options while trying not to crash into a wall over 200 KMPH. Maybe some bullet time here would help. Notably, there are microtransactions here – not to unlock anything that will change gameplay but I can appreciate how this might annoy big fans of the series. Lastly, flashbacks, while welcome (trust me) on harder difficulties with less assists – are unlimited on most difficulties meaning it can be quite easy to rely on them. I’d give these out a bit more sparingly, especially if you’re playing on a medium-hard mode.
Overall, F1 2020 is an excellent simulation with additions this year that are great to play and crucially I think, set the foundation for a really exciting next gen leap. I can’t wait to see where My Team goes, I can’t even imagine how good the game is going to look. I’m excited.
If you’re staying safe at home this summer and you’re looking for a racing game to get stuck into, look no further than F1 2020.