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F1 2011 preview

Codemasters surprised a lot of people with the sheer quality offered in last years F1 2010. After a dearth of F1 focussed titles for over a decade, this shining beacon of quality will undoubtedly have been a delightful boost for the Codemasters development coffers.

Unsurprisingly there’s been little attempt to reinvent the wheel (sorry) in this years update. The main focus has been to tweak, optimise, and modernize just about every aspect that appeared last year. Brand new items are minimal, but all the latest drivers, tracks, and rules are all here and ready to go as they appeared at the start of the 2011 season.

Although we didn’t get the opportunity to have a play around with the online component, it does seem to be one area in particular that Codemasters believe required extensive attention. This time a maximum of 16 gamers can take part in an online race, with up to an additional 8 AI controlled vehicles, taking the grid up to its jam packed maximum of 24. An obvious boost for those eager for some competitive multiplayer play, and surely a major plus point for all those gamers who head online.

Taking part in all these races both on and offline will force you to get to grips with the tweaked handling model on offer. This time cars are a real handful, with it much easier to now spin your car off the track. Push too hard towards the apex of a bend at too high a speed and the back end will slowly start to pull away. Attempt to over compensate and lock the steering wheel the other way and you’re a certainty to hit the nearest wall. Learn the nuances of each vehicle, and the feel of your tyres, and you’ll already have a huge advantage over your rivals.

It’s incredibly easy to play this just as you could any racing title, pushing right to the very brink in each corner. Here that’s simply impossible. Tyres requiring warming, and nursing through the early stages of the race, before they final warm up and – surface permitting – your lap times rapidly increase. Take them a lap too far and past their useful life and you’ll know it by the fight required to force your car through each bend.

And that’s just in the dry. Attempt to push anywhere near as hard as you would on a dry track while the heavens have opened and you’ll be spending little to no time on the tarmac. It’s of real credit to Codemasters and the EGO engine that they’ve developed that it all works so well so consistently.

F1 2011 is undoubtedly a much more attractive title than last year’s iteration. While the cars themselves have been lavished in all kinds of glorious detail, the tracks and backdrops are a huge step up in clarity from last time around. The rain effects in particular were a real cut above the quality we were honestly expecting, with thankfully not a hint of slowdown in the complete wet and a bustling track full of vehicles.

The promised safety car inclusion didn’t make an appearance during our time with a preview build, but it’s been assured that it will be there and ready to head out onto the track if required. It may sound like a small addition to some, but for fans eager for a title befitting the official license, it’s another big boost.

It’s all coming together so well at this late stage that only a complete failure to offer the online options that have been promised can scupper F1 2011 being a superb title. While it’s not going to be a completely fresh experience for those who bought and extensively played last year’s game, the tweaked handling, new rules, and expansive online options will keep both fans and newcomers enthralled.

F1 2011 is released on September 23 on  Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Edited On 03 Sep, 2011

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