It is crazy, that in a year where Formula One is delayed and the tracks to be raced on are changed, Codemasters latest Formula One game would prove to easily be its greatest release yet. While races at Zandvoort and Hanoi will sadly not be held, gamers can at least enjoy what might have been on the best sports simulation game that I, personally, have ever played.
The Formula One games have for years been improving, adding more detail and more features. Last year’s introduction of F2 was a delight to many but this year is easily the best yet. The number one selling point for F1 2020 is the My Team mode. Here you can create a brand-new team, picking everything from the team colours, logo, sponsors, liveries and even negotiating the contract for a second driver.
All these new areas to manage are combined with the R&D research and vehicle maintenance that was part of the earlier games. This massive level of management on top of the racing itself meant that by the time I had completed my first practice session I was already deeply invested in the success of my fledgling team.
To keep the game feeling fresh, even after you hit your seventh season, is the new Podium Pass. By racing and earning XP as you play, you will unlock new cosmetic items like car liveries, diver gloves, overalls, helmets and even the “love them” or “hate them” emotes. There is an option to upgrade to VIP status which earns you even greater rewards, as well as challenges. It’s an interesting feature but I will reserve judgement on whether the VIP section is worthwhile until I have seen how it holds up after a few months’ playtime.
Alas, even with the tremendous strides the series has taken over the years, there are still parts that I found to be annoying. The interviews you face throughout the racing season have always been dull, and in all respects, feel to be an area that has been untouched since last year. Knowing that the slightest praise for one division of the team or criticism of another can demolish morale does not make for an exciting area to play. While I have always loved the addition of extra management options in nearly every game, if you liked the career mode as it used to be, you don’t have to worry; it is still an option to pick an existing team and just race to glory.
F2 fans will be happy to know that minor presence of F2 in the career mode is still there, but with the added choice of completing a full championship season. On top of the My Team and Career modes you also have the choice for a single race, time trial or online multiplayer. I was delighted to see the return of the long-absent split-screen mode. Split screen finally lets friends sit on the same couch and battle over who is the best in local multiplayer. Whoever thought that removing that feature was a clever idea in the first place, should never be listened to again. Ever.
The racing itself is an absolute joy this year. The introduction of a casual and more advanced driving style choices means that picking up the controller to race for the very first time is just as easy and fun as for a season pro. I won’t claim to be an expert on every adjustable setting of your car before you hit the track, but I can honestly say that the cars feel more real and handle better than ever before.
As you would have come to expect in a f1 game these days the graphics and sound are of the highest quality yet. Each track, especially the new ones for this year, are replicated down to the most minute of details. The brief introductions to each track, while David Croft and Anthony Davidson read their accurate (if uninspired) commentary, can almost make you forget it’s not the real thing.
For the ultimate F1 fan you can also splurge on picking up the Michael Schumacher Deluxe Edition. If you do, you will be able to get your hands on an extra 4 of the legend’s earlier cars. There is also a bunch of extra liveries, helmets, race outfits and podium emotes.
Formula One 2020 is an excellent game for newcomers and longtime players alike. Everything has been fine tuned to maximize playability while allowing a huge amount of setting to be tweaked for those with the knowledge to do so. The new My Team mode and the return of split-screen make this year’s installment a must buy for me.
-Dan SheehanPlease Join us on your Social Platform of choice