While I may not know every single thing about the intricacies of racecar engineering, I do know that I adore Formula 1 and all things surrounding it. From their impressively lightweight chassis to their open-wheeled designs, through to their sharp and almost cyberpunk-like features, Formula 1 continually inspires blood-rushing excitement. Even if the sport is not your cup of tea, watching vehicles weighing little more than 600 Kg go around a hairpin at more than 100 Km/h, is nothing short of incredible. For many petrol-heads, the opportunity of driving one of these incredible vehicles remains a dream, and for many others being close enough to one satisfaction enough. Thanks to Codemasters, fans have been able to experience what it feels like to commandeer a Formula 1 vehicle for over a decade now, and their veterancy most definitely shows. F1 2020 shifts into pole position for being one of the best closed-track experiences I have had the pleasure of enjoying – right on the cusp of the next generation to boot!
Over ten years of extensive work and dedication from Codemasters culminated in the stellar F1 2019 – a game celebrating the tenth anniversary of the rebranded F1 video game license. F1 2020 celebrates yet another decade for the brand as a whole, and it does so with a bang. Considering the current console generation is coming to a close in 2020, there is not a whole lot Codemasters can do with the limited seven-year-old technology at their disposal. Yet, what they managed to produce is a game that looks phenomenal, plays well and feels like a proper generational send-off.
As always, expecting a lengthy or quality narrative from a game like F1 2020 is something of a moot point. Like F1 2019, F1 2020 does feature an extremely robust career mode (called Driver Career). However, where Driver Career is a pretty straight forward and fast-track look into the life of a virtual Formula 1 driver, this year’s instalment features a trump card called My Team, which essentially one-ups Driver Career in all aspects. I presume Codemasters wanted to innovate on the stock-standard Driver Career while still keeping Driver Career untouched for all long-term fans of the franchise. My Team essentially works the same way, but now with added functionality revolving around all the facets surrounding the driving experience. As such, you manage all facets of your F1 Team, including sponsorships, the manufacturer you ultimately choose to drive, and even distinct aspects of the team management – choices like which co-driver you want, and how well your budget holds up when investing in marketing and team upgrades. You will even take part in interviews and speeches similar to what the F2 Game Mode in F1 2019 featured.
I like Driver Career a lot. Its focus is on the driving experience only, where you get to appoint your team and your sponsors, then continue through to qualifying rounds, placement rounds, and eventually the actual race. It is a simple gameplay loop you repeat on-end until you finally get to the big-leagues and win yourself and your team a big and beautiful trophy. My Team, however, adds a whole new level of depth to it all. A new level of complexity above an already robust game mode.
If My Team sounds too involved, and you want to take a bit of a break from the normal Driver Career, F1 2020 features a plethora of more laid-back game modes. Options such as the one-off Grand Prix races and Time Trial modes are still viable options, while social gamers might prefer to hop into quick matches online. Online multiplayer in F1 2020 is also a pretty standard affair, with both ranked and unranked options, weekly events and leagues. If you are more of a local multiplayer person, you are in luck as well. For the first time in what feels like years, Codemasters have brought back local split-screen matches – a definite win in my book.
Honestly, you might need to jump into quick matches or a bit of local multiplayer before tackling any other serious game mode. As with previous titles, there is simply no hand-holding in F1 2020. The game may have brake lines and driver assists, but it largely leaves you to your own devices when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. With that said, there is a massive swathe of options to sift through to make it a bit easier or more challenging to suit your play style.
I loved the hardcore simulation route F1 2019 took, and F1 2020 follows suite. The 2020 version largely features the same gameplay as the previous instalment, but now with the addition of the newly implemented My Team. Therefore, there are many more aspects of team management to keep track of, while also going through the usual steps of what kind of drag reduction systems you want in your vehicle, what kind of power over handling ratios you would prefer, and more. While all of this is largely the same, it practically feels brand new in regards to how incredible everything looks and how polished the game seems to be.
Codemasters appear to have focussed heavily on overall polish this time around. I enjoyed every bit of F1 2019, but I do remember having a few qualms over the way it presented itself at times. F1 2020, on the other hand, seems pixel-perfect – from phenomenal audio that draws you into the game, to beautifully crafted skyboxes and dynamic track weather (which you admittedly only experience if you play real-world length matches), and even the feel of the vehicles as you ignite the engines and burn some tyres going around particularly slippy corners; it all comes together to encapsulate everything that makes F1 so great! It baffles me how incredible the game runs if you take into account just how phenomenal it looks, and what elaborate gameplay it hides underneath its pretty little bonnet. The only real qualms I have with the game is the sheer amount of loading that takes place. Once again, Codemasters have opted to get all of the loading out of the way at once. While this does help with the gameplay down the line, having to wait for two or three minutes at a time can become a chore. I kind of wish they opted to hide loading behind the screen where you get to see a rundown of the upcoming matches and events. Maybe they did, and the loading otherwise is just bad to begin with? Either way, it is long enough to not brush off as just another quirk of the game. Fortunately everything else more than makes up for it.
F1 2020 most definitely cements the fact that Codemasters have an unfaltering love for the sport and will go through many lengths to make sure the qualms of their F1 fanbase are heard loud and clear. The game builds on everything F1 2019 brought to the franchise, and then some. It looks phenomenal and proves its worth as the best franchise to invest in for F1 fans. Although F1 2020 comes in at the tail end of the console generation, it most definitely wins pole position thanks to exceptional gameplay and a whole lot of love and dedication from the developers.
|Time Played||<10 Hours|
|Difficulty||Realistic physics; Only assists were brake lines|
|Acquisition||Review code courtesy of Codemasters|