F1 2011 Hands-On Preview

By Darryl Kaye on July 12, 2011, 6:59PM EDT

After a brief hiatus from the world of video games, Formula One returned in 2009 on the Nintendo Wii and Sony PSP. However, it wasn't until a year after that things started to come alive. F1 2010 launched on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC and vastly exceeded all expectations. It's gone on to sell over 2.3 million units, won a ton of awards and heaped a ton of pressure on Codemasters Birmingham to repeat it all over again. But from what we saw recently, it looks as though they've taken it all in their stride.

As you'd expect, all 12 of the teams are represented within the game, along with their respective drivers. The courses have also been updated to reflect the new roster of tracks. Bahrain has been removed, but the Buddh International Circuit in India has been added to make up for it.

The first thing that's apparent is that the visuals have been ramped up this time around. Everything from the actual courses, to even the paddock have been upgraded. Not only has there been a degree of refinement, but Codemasters Birmingham are trying to push the "real life" element of these places. They want you to feel like you're in the situation.

Another example of this, comes with something quite minor, but at the same time, quite significant. In F1 2010, each car's steering wheel was quite generic, but now, even this detail will be as true to life as possible. Fans gave their feedback about what they wanted changed with the next iteration, as Codemasters Birmingham listened.

Going along with that mantra, the game's slogan has changed slightly; it now has an extra two words. The words "Go Compete" have been appended to the existing slogan of "Be the Driver, Live the Life."

What this means, is that the multiplayer has been renovated in a big way. Online multiplayer will be available for 16 players, with the option to add another 8 AI drivers to complete a full grid. This was something that F1 2010 sorely missed and it's great that the developers have been able to add it in for this iteration.

Taking it one step further, the game will also include full split-screen. This does come with a concession though, this mode isn't as crisp as the single-player component. It's a shame they couldn't replicate it, but it's the kind of thing that's expected really. To make up for it, Codemasters will also be adding the chance to play seasons co-operatively. Here, there will be team objectives as well as personal objectives.

The developers didn't want the multiplayer experience to be just about winning. If you're racing in a team that's not a pace setter, it's unrealistic for you to be challenging for honours at every opportunity. Because of this, you will get objectives, such as finishing in the middle of the pack. And from here, you will be able to move forwards with your career.

From what we saw, the single-player experience will easily be the best F1 simulation ever made. The addition of the improved multiplayer will also help to make it a much more social game for fans of the sport.

It's planned for a release on the 23rd of September in the UK on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. There are also Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita versions in the works, but they have no release date at the moment.

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