F1 is back in full swing and just in time for Codemasters’annual celebration of the sport.
While 2020 has been a strange year for this sport – and pretty much every sport, in general – F1 2020 provides perhaps the best game to racing experience yet.
It’s certainly the most accessible of the F1 games so far and that starts with the brand new My Team mode.
Codemasters are opening things up with a complete fantasy scenario where you play as an ‘overdriver’ who is both manager and on track driver of an all-new 11th team.
You start out with a televised interview where you’re asked a series of questions which will determine the specialities of your car and team – durability, chassis quality and the like.
From there, you’ll need to acquire sponsorship, choose a teammate, pick a supplier, then determine where to invest skill points. The experience is really customisable.
This mode is particularly interesting as you can customise how many races you take part in, what facilities to build, set team goals and aspirations, create rivalries, all in the name of winning a ton of prize money and becoming world champion.
As with previous games, this is the officially licensed product so you’ll be going head to head with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Valtteri Bottas.
And the races themselves just feel so smooth, taking corners, adjusting camera angles, the roaring sound of the engines firing up, the squeal of the breaks. This isn’t just an incredible licensed effort, but also a truly authentic product.
True, F1 2020 is a lot more technical than your DIRT, Gran Turismo and Forza. There’s a lot to think about in regards to pit stops, damage to your vehicle, and the impact of focusing on one area over another, but the game is full of tutorials, test tracks, and accessibility options that have really opened the playing field to everyone.
You can actually learn a lot about the sport through playing, but also the trials and tribulations that come accompanied with taking tight corners as all the cars huddle up together, the unique shape and structure of each track, and how weather can have a deciding and lasting impact.
So, yes, there’s undoubtedly a greater learning curve, meaning this probably shouldn’t serve as anyone’s introduction to the racing genre, unless you’re a true F1 aficionado. But Codemasters should also be massively commended on the efforts they’ve gone to in order to open up the experience.
F1 2020 now includes Accessible handling with simplified menus and less resistant track surfaces, as well as track assists. This really helps ease you into playing the games, giving you a feel for what’s expected from you while also preparing you to invest yourself deeper into the experience.
You’ve also got the return of split-screen multiplayer which lets you go head to head for a bit of fun or in a slightly more competitive environment. Considering how hard it is to come by a good split-screen experience, this was a really welcome inclusion and offered me some fun nights spent in front of the screen with my kids.
So F1 2020 could be seen as something of a reboot for the franchise, but it also pays more respect to its loyal fans by adding a ton of firsts, like new circuits and the inclusion of F2 with full or half seasons.
There’s also a lovely Deluxe Edition which really focuses on F1 legend, Michael Schumacher and his themed cars, suits and emotes which is almost certainly going to be a must for a fan of the man himself.
As for the game itself, F1 2020 really captures PS4 at its most glorious. The shine on the sides of the cars, seamless motion, orders being barked at you over an intercom. The feel and thrill of the circuit is captured wonderfully here.
You wonder how the next generation is going to evolve this franchise and how much more realistic the vehicles can appear. Car racing cars have always been seen as a fantastic benchmark of quality for aesthetical quality and as good as it looks on my standard PS4, I’m excited to see how this will be further upgraded by next-gen systems.
It will certainly take some doing as F1 2020 flows, gleams, and glistens so smoothly already. The experience is as close to the real thing as you can possibly get, and the game’s new My Team mode really leads the charge into the exciting future of the franchise.
No question about it, the F1 license remains in the best possible hands at Codemasters. This is a team extremely passionate about every aspect of the sport, who want to recreate a truly interactive experience in the finest possible detail, but they’re also willing to iterate, evolve and keep adding to it rather than playing it safe.
F1 2020 is a landmark moment for the franchise, a great game that offers longevity, high quality, and thrilling action. An absolute must for F1 fans.
F1 2020 is now available on PC, PS4, and XO
Tested on PS4
Code provided by Publisher