F1 2021 Review – One for the Ages

by | Feb 27, 2021

After years of F1 fans’ pleas to bring back the show to the main channel, the 2019 season delivered a final hurrah to the series that brought us the greatest F1 car ever built. The F1 Team have done everything in their power to make the show better and better over the years. So what did we get this year? And how does it stack up to its predecessors?

For the F1 series as a whole, F1 2021 is the best game yet. While I know that feels like a bold statement, the game has a lot going for it. F1 is a long-running series of sims that has been around for a long time, and you can tell that the development team have taken their time to make something that is not only true to the series, but that is also a massive improvement on where the series has been in the past.

Codemasters has been in the news more than once lately, as the company was acquired by EA earlier this year. Although many fans were unhappy with the decision, the more I spoke to the developers at Codemasters, I was convinced that they were very happy with the combination of the two giants and what the future holds. This is important to know, as F1 2021is Codemasters’ first AAA release since the partnership, and both companies will now be under the microscope of the community. This also brings me to this F1 2021 review.

Before moving on to the review, it’s clear that F1 fans are looking forward to the game, hoping it remains a leader in innovation, authenticity and accessibility. But why is this partnership so important? According to the developers I spoke to, this will allow Codemasters to continue and accelerate the F1 series much faster, and the developers will be able to make exactly what they only imagined on paper with the newly acquired resources.

Let’s talk about what F1 2021 looks like, with EA on the periphery pledging its support and promising to enable Codemasters to pursue its vision both now and in the near future.

F1 2021 : overview – what I like about

Operation of a vehicle

The F1 series has always given a strong and realistic driving experience, or at least that’s what I can imagine since I’ve never driven an F1 car. So when I was presented with Codemasters’ new product, I expected it to be very similar to its predecessors – and that would be a good thing.

My expectations were met with a powerful blast that I felt vibrate through my controller. On the PS5, the cars now have a weight to them that I’ve never felt before in this series, and I’ve played every game. Not only does each vehicle have significant weight behind the wheel, but the developers have streamlined the controller-based driving experience by adding a new layer of content that puts more control in the hands of the user.

It took me a few laps to get used to the new feeling of control and weight before I felt natural again. The changes are welcome and deepen the track driving experience, making it more natural.

In the F1 series, I’ve been used to driving the sharp turns and S-curves a certain way for years, which has become a bit boring for the veterans of the series. With the more precise steering and the weight of the car, I had to concentrate on the corners again, otherwise I risked cutting in or hitting the kerb too hard.

If this puts off some of you who are familiar with the series, don’t be impressed. You now have many more options to place the car where you need it in any given situation. This is very important on many construction sites that are narrow and have few legal areas to cross.

The all-new feeling of driving one of these powerful but fragile machines may take some getting used to, but in the end the F1 2021 gives you a much better feeling on the track than its predecessors, and it gets even better.

series optionsseries options

Making all skills and abilities available to players is nothing new to the F1 series, but it’s something that only got attention last year. Codemasters has tried to make a game that all players can enjoy, regardless of their knowledge or skill, and this continues in F1 2021.

In this way, the developers are making it possible for people who want to experience the excitement of a real Formula One season on a more casual basis. This year, the game also includes a new customization that, when clicked, allows you to run with all the tools and options that can be used or disabled independently. In an initial conversation with Codemasters, the developers described it as a developer mode, so to speak. The options now available to the community could previously only be individually enabled or disabled during game development.

Career mode for two players

In my preview I talked about this game type and how excited I was that it would be in a AAA game like F1 2021, and that excitement was organic and real. The idea of playing the F1 career mode with a friend and seeing how that career would play out differently sounded so intriguing, and with such a unique approach, that it was a scenario that couldn’t be lost on Codemasters and the fans.

The beginning and start of this career mode gives you the chance to compete or team up and wreak havoc in the F1 world. You also have the option of opting for the full cooperative formula or for contracts per member.

If you play in co-career mode, you may end up switching teams during your career due to contract negotiations, and end up playing for opposing teams. If you opt for the true co-op mode, you will both be on the same team throughout the career.

What’s great is that you can enjoy the career mode together, competing against each other or competing for glory under the same contract. Whichever option you choose with your friend, the co-op mode offers the same depth and fun as the single player mode, which is the best of both worlds.

This is the kind of offer that extends the life of the game and can be extended six months from now, when both parties pick up the game to go in a different direction. When you go through the career mode in the group chat system, you get the impression that team communication is possible during the career. This lends a certain authenticity to the whole thing, whether you choose the true co-op route or the contract route.

Graphics and lay-out

Over the past few years, Codemasters has managed to deliver contemporary, cutting-edge graphics and presentation, and they’ve done so brilliantly. F1 2021 continues this trend.

As soon as I started up this version, it was clear that the developers at Codemasters know very well what the new hardware is capable of. This is not surprising, as F1 was already beautiful on the last generation of consoles. Thanks to technological advances, the F1 2021 is now as close as we can get to what we see every weekend.

From the deep, vivid details of each race car to the stunning recreation of each race site and its surroundings, F1 2021 often provides such an extraordinary visual experience that the line between real and fake is often blurred.

Whether you’re on one of the game’s official tracks, navigating through the new UI menus, or participating in the well-organized pre- and post-race festivals, F1 2021 always offered me a solid experience on the track or in the menus (and the framerate held up well, too).

The only downside to all the opulence and authenticity the game offers are the scenes that precede some of the interviews in career mode. They seemed a bit jerky on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and that was before and after the Day 1 patch was applied.

Despite this, Codemasters continues to shine in terms of graphics and presentation. F1 2021 offers an authentic and vivid experience.

F1 2021 Review – What I don’t like about

Reminder history

I’m not going to criticize the new story mode, Braking Point, because for the most part I like the journey of Aiden Jackson, a Formula One rookie. However, there are two main reasons why I don’t like this mode.

When I sat down with the developers, they talked a lot about the time, effort and resources that went into developing Braking Point. The studio even hired an actual production company to develop the story and write the script. Is it impressive on any level? Sure, and you can see where the money and effort have been invested.

But without giving too much away, I don’t see any replay value in this mode, and the kind of production and effort put into it makes you wonder.

Secondly, and again without giving too much away, most of the story mode is divided into moments, and many of those moments are extremely important to the story. The problem is that the developers have asked you to get behind the wheel of a high-precision car and complete a task on the track, with no time to familiarize yourself with the track where the event is taking place or the time.

This is no easy task for veterans of the series who know all the locations, let alone fans or newcomers. This will be a source of frustration for some, which seems an odd hurdle in a story mode that is probably trying to appeal to some escape fans. All in all, it seems a bit illogical.

If you like scripted modes that work on the Choose Your Own Adventure principle, then Braking Point will provide you with plenty of fun and excitement. However, someone needs to explain why the resources and creative effort couldn’t have been used elsewhere to create an offering that will make the masses want to play it again in six months.

No VR support

It’s a minor complaint that won’t bother many people, because frankly, PSVR hasn’t been the success Sony was hoping for.

That said, I love VR, especially when it comes to racing games, which I mostly play on PC because companies refuse to put the time and energy into making a VR game that very few people can play on consoles.

Believe me, I completely understand why Codemasters didn’t bother implementing VR on consoles, but the fact remains that you’re in for an incredible experience here. Anyone who has played iRacing or rFactor 2 in VR knows exactly what I mean. Hopefully, when this generation of hardware stabilizes (and people can buy consoles whenever they want), we’ll see more and more games that use the hardware in different ways.

Baseline

The end result of F1 2021 is that it will once again be in the running for the best sports game of the year, the best racing game of the year, and for anyone who loves these types of games. F1 2021 allows players of all skill levels to play as they see fit and to adjust the game regularly as needed.

The depth here is almost overwhelming when it comes to F1 2021. The game contains multiple single and multiplayer modes, and you can switch to the next mode when you’re tired of the current one. Here, it’s the cooperative career mode that stands out the most.

It’s one of the best games on next-gen hardware right now, and the stability is just phenomenal, coupled with the quality of the game, both in game and in the menu. It amazes me how Codemasters keeps finding ways to promote this game further and further year after year. And here I am again, looking forward to the launch of another incredible work that I think will take its rightful place in everyone’s rotation for the next few months.

F1 2021 creates an experience that justifies my yearning for the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and when games begin to reach that level of graphical fidelity and depth, we should grab our belts because the journey will be incredible.

Associate members