It’s that time of year again when Codemasters releases their annual foray into the motor racing league that is Formula 1. F1 2020 comes at you with an abundance of new elements and even a totally new game mode for you to get stuck into. This year, however, we have an interesting situation where the game is actually released close to the start of the season, albeit a delayed start to the season due to the current pandemic sweeping the globe.
So how does F1 2020 compare to all the previous iterations, does it leave the others behind, or does it get a bit of a bogged down start? Let’s read on and find out.
F1 2020 returns with a bit of a double-headed update this year. On one hand, we have a great new feel on track due to the updated cars and on the other a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth with a new mode that promised so much, but left me wanting more.
Starting with the good news, the game feels great, on both steering wheel and also on the controller. Turning the traction control down to medium on F1 2019 was almost like signing your own retirement cheque and leaving for your hotel early. Whereas on F1 2020 the cars are more controllable on a lower traction setting, even being able to hold a slide if you put the power down too early coming out of a corner. Plugin the steering wheel and the game comes alive, being able to get the back end moving around corners and to catch those slides with relative ease was an absolute delight. If you are a big fan of the series you owe it to yourself to try this with a steering wheel as it really is a totally different experience.
So what’s new this year? What has Codemasters added to F1 2020 to make you spend your hard-earned cash on? Well, a fair bit in truth, 2 new tracks, a whole new game mode and a massive bunch of personalisation that will keep you coming back through the calendar for more racing. So let’s take a look at a few of these new features.
Added for the F1 2020 game is two new tracks for you to learn, Hanoi Circuit and Circuit Zandvoort are added to the calendar, and both tracks bring with them a different degree of learning. Hanoi with its long straights and technical short sections and Zandvoort with its sweeping corners both give you a challenge. If you are struggling though there has been a new control scheme added to the game when you are starting a career just check the top right of the screen for the casual control method. This is a predetermined set of assists that will give you a helping hand when it comes to driving around these tracks. Giving you a braking assist and having traction control on full straight off the bat. Whilst this is a great control method for newcomers, I would recommend getting off of that and starting to play around with the assists yourself to get the perfect setup for your own skill level.
Classic cars are back and this year with the addition of the five most iconic cars throughout Michael Schumacher’s racing career you are given a great lineup to take to the track and each of these cars all handle completely different. F1 2020 is the perfect game to try if you want to take some classic racing cars around a track like Monza or Silverstone.
So what other game modes do you have to play around within F1 2020, well all the familiar modes are back from last year, with the career returning as well as the multiplayer options from F1 2019, but in F1 2020 there have been a few little tweaks. In particular with the way that you start your driver career. Starting as normal you have to pick your character and customise your own avatar for the upcoming seasons. Once that’s done you are then greeted with the race weekend options. Here you are now able to pick from new 10 or 16 race seasons. So if you don’t have time for a full race season, shrink the size down to make it more manageable for you. You can also pick where you start your career, do you fancy doing an entire F2 championship before heading out to the track in your shiny F1 car, or do you want to just dive straight into F1, there are both those options and a few more in between.
OK, OK, let’s move on to the mode you came to read about, My Team, well personally I was left feeling a little wanting with this game mode. Yes, you can create your own racing team and line up alongside the other teams on the starting grid. Yes, you can upgrade your facilities and see your team start at the bottom and move through the ranks to take the constructors championship. But the journey in between was just a bit meh. Why I hear you ask? Well, it just felt like a normal driver career except you got to pick some sponsors. Yes I know, there is more to the My Team mode than just that, you get to upgrade your facilities which have bonuses on other aspects of your team. In essence, though however, it just felt like it needed some form of Story running behind it. Giving you a bit more of a personal gain when you sign that big sponsor. Maybe this will come in F1 2021 if My Team stays in the line up of game modes, only time will tell.
There are a few other additions to the game, like split-screen and due to community feedback, there is now a virtual rearview mirror that you can add to any of your camera angles whilst playing throughout F1 2020.
In addition to all of this, and bear in mind that this is not exhaustive, there is still the odd little surprise that we don’t like to spoil when you get hold of your own copy of the game. One thing that we will touch on is the new Podium Pass, this is a new feature that allows you to unlock free customisation items by racing and earning XP. Think along the lines of a Battle Pass type system and you will be bang on. Codemasters has said that each season will contain enough currency throughout the levels to be able to purchase the next VIP Podium Pass. Obviously the initial VIP pass will be at your own cost unless you preorder the game, in which case you will get the credits to unlock the first season as part of that preorder.
As with every F1 title that has come before F1 2020, the cars, the tracks, the character models all look insanely good. The cars are detailed beyond belief, right down to the wingnuts on the cars. Each car is different and if you are an avid fan of F1 in real life, then you will instantly recognise the new car models in F1 2020.
During the different career options you have, you will come across different characters, and these are all modelled perfectly, and even the lip-syncing is getting better and better. Let’s be honest though, you don’t play an F1 title for the interview questions? or do you?
So as with the graphics section, the audio is no different. You get the engine sounds that you would expect to hear, Jeff is once again your little voice in your head telling you all sorts of neat little statistics during the race. Although you can still tell him to “shut up” and he will gladly stay off the radio and let you concentrate on racing.
F1 2020 will keep you playing for the entire year, with the online sections available and the enhanced careers you will spend many many hours playing through F1 2020. Which is a testament to the work that Codemasters have done this year.
So once again Codemasters have hit the nail on the head with F1 2020, yes the new My Team might not have ticked all my boxes but it’s always the on track experience that should overide any thoughts on game modes. After all, a great on-track experience can trump disappointing game modes. It’s with that in mind that F1 2020 receives the Thumb Culture Gold Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
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