Yep, it’s that time of year again, when Codemasters bring out this year’s alliteration of their F1 series. Which due to the “unique” circumstances that 2020 has provided, comes out around the same time as the actual F1 season starts (well, one round later). I’ve been playing it the last week or so, and may have gotten carried away with it in some parts, and here is the review.
F1 2020 has all the 10 Teams and the original calendar that was in place before those “unique circumstances” come into view. We get to try out Zandvoort in the Netherlands and Hanoi in Vietnam before the likes of Hamilton and Verstappen can turn a wheel in anger on those tracks in the real world. On first impressions, I can tell you that Zandvoort is a technical short speed fest of a track – Think Montreal but more complicated and mad banking, and Hanoi is a by-the-book Tilkedrome – Completely forgettable.
But the F1 season is vastly more different than it looked 12 months ago, and recently with news that Mugello being added to the revamped calendar recently. There will be folks out there wondering if it will be added to the game itself? Well after much research and delving into forums. It’s highly unlikely that Mugello or any newcomers to the revamped 2020 season will be included in the game. Good news that the Black Mercedes will be in the game in a later update, always nice to look forward to.
Included is last year’s Formula 2 cars, with this year’s cars coming in at a later date. And the return of the classic cars, which this year has had a bit of a cull with the 70s and early 80s cars going away, which is sad because i’m probably one of the only folks who liked the classic cars. For owners of the Michael Schumacher Edition or the accompanying DLC get access to 4 cars from the Schumacher years. The Jordan 191 from where it all started for the future 7 times Weltmeister of Formula 1. The 1994 and 1995 Benettons where he picked up the first 2 of his titles. And lastly, the Ferrari F1-2000 where he picked up his first title for Ferrari. The interesting thing for me Is that you could also race in the same overalls as the cars which is a neat touch. Hopefully, this can be a regular thing in future titles.
So, how does it come together on the track? Well, pretty damn good. F1 2019, while brilliant, felt stiff, like the suspension was worked on by Ron Jeremy himself. In comparison to F1 2020, there is more feel to the steering compared to its counterparts from F1 Cars to F2 and the classics. Speaking of today’s F1 cars, the ERS system has had a bit of an overhaul. Originally you can change the ERS mode on the fly which is more strategic, wasn’t exactly realistic. As the majority of the drivers and popular Twitch streamers gave feedback on – so it is much more simplified, so it’s preset and if you wanted to use more of the energy just press a button and put it into overtake mode. Much like KERS way back when., and I can report that it’s much easier and more fun to use and manage.
There is more emphasis on accessibility for the newbies with a host of options on offer. Going off track being less horrible and steering and braking assists or if you have the most skilful of trousers on, you can start turning them all off for a meatier challenge. In short, a step forward from 2019. And an enjoyable one at that.
Now, the newest of the features and certainly getting all of the limelight this year is “MyTeam Mode” where you create, run and drive for your very own team on the grid. Starting with a choice of engine suppliers, F2 teammates and main sponsors to pick from (all fictional ones i’m afraid). And so begins your 10-year campaign to get your team to the top of Formula 1. Or if you don’t want the bother of managing your team there is still the driver career mode. Where now you can do a full F2 season this time around, which I tried and found frankly a bit bland. Just one round after another and no reaction from the game. No interviews – just nothing. Great now it’s in place but needs fleshing out in future titles.
Now, for the most part mechanically both of these modes are the same, with a few differences. Instead of earning research points via practice programs and contract objectives. You can accumulate them now weekly via your departments (Aerodynamics, Chassis, Engine, and Durability) wherein Driver Career mode it’s predetermined for each team. And in MyTeam mode you can upgrade each department to accumulate Resource points and other benefits for you and your team. Given the uniqueness of starting a team from the bottom, you can look in on how your team is working and the more you upgrade the more high tech and sophisticated it becomes. Which is nice to witness. Also to add given the unique nature of the relationships between teams and engine suppliers with updates throughout the year. That is replicated with power and durability upgrades, but also similar teams of the same engine suppliers will get those upgrades as well.
Going back to MyTeam mode for a moment, the car is The Multiplayer car but you can customize the livery from preselected options and how you want your sponsor decals placed, but it would be nicer if we could change particular nosecones or aerodynamic philosophies. To make it a bit more different.
The showman, sportsmanship thing is gone. Now it is all based on Acclaim level. All the drivers now have FIFA Ultimate Team inspired stats. Which does give me an idea (more on that in another article) and depending on you or your team’s acclaim rating or yourself for that matter would determine what kind of driver you can chat up to join your team or which teams would be interested in your services. Same goes for the kind of sponsors you can sign up and meet their individualistic objectives.
There are still interviews to an extent. The slight change here is that extaHASStic F1 Journalist Will Buxton is in the game as well which is a good thing and gives it more authenticity. Not having to talk to a completely forgettable character all the time. If you do struggle with saying the right things to the camera like most politicians these days you can upgrade your own perks from more possible answers to media questions, earning more resource points and less engine wear. Yeah, that last one doesn’t make all that sense as a Driver Perk to be honest. To sum both of these career modes have had their individual tweaks – driver career mode is still the place to go if you want a straightforward experience then it’s still the place to go. It’s had some positive changes, sure, but no large leap for mankind. The inclusion of the F2 season and deciding what length of the season you would like to do is nice, but particularly the F2 could be glammed up and have a sense of occasion. Even the short F2 bit at the beginning of f1 2019’s career was a bit dramatized but it gave it the occasion it needed. Not just robotic checking of rounds of the F2 season like a checklist.
And as for the MyTeam career mode. On the face of it, it’s a great idea and tonnes of the potential of ideas and whatnot you can put into it. Sure, the driver/team principal is a neat idea and not something that hasn’t been done in the sport. Why not have a team principal mode? Watch from the pit wall and make those race winning decisions. Overall the career mode is enjoyable just needs to flesh out some ideas it has already had – and include little details here and there. Not a step forward that F1 2019 was but a step forward never than less.
As for other game modes you still have your Grand Prix mode, Time Trial mode if you need practice or nick someone’s better set-ups. Championships which previously had tonnes to do for a more refined experience. The scenarios in the classic cars make a return, which could and should be updated. No different to what you did with them on F1 2017.
Local multiplayer in the form of Co-op. which is a nice touch and Online Multiplayer is still after how many years *checks own collection of codies F1 games* 11 Games and is still a frustrating experience. Server disconnections, gaps between drivers in 5 lap races at times measured in calendars years. The penalty system is still fucking dreadful than it was 11 games ago. Drivers can just ignore T1 and broadside you and get away with it? and even ranked? Get the fuck out of here. Honestly, I really wouldn’t care all that much if Codemasters took a year out of adding new stuff in and just refine the online experience amongst other things. So I don’t drop-kick a sparrow out of frustration every nanosecond.
Technically, it looks brilliant graphically and sounds great and all. My word, it is littered with bugs and glitches in the same way. In the same way, a racetrack is littered with carbon fibre when Pastor Maldonaldo raced. Random game crashes for literally no reason, but magically coincides with finishing a qualifying session on pole. Or that one time in MyTeam mode at Bahrain where I finished 4th and scored first points for my team Cyberdyne Racing LTD (has a much better DAS system, it’s sentient may give it to NOMAD once this is all over). Which my game decided to crash. Talk about ripping my heart out F1 2020?
That one time after restarting that race which was a 50% race around Bahrain, on fairly fresh Tyres. Decided that I was fucking Torvill and Dean performing Balero. Tyre physics fucking off and not even gripping the road, but again 3rd time a charm and got the 4th place eventually. For me, in the past with codies F1 games, the problems have always been online in terms of bugs and glitches. This is the first that I’ve been disappointed with in terms of build quality. Yeah, this could be put down to the unique circumstances we live in.
So the verdict - F1 2020 is a step forward for the series in terms of ideas it has with the inclusion of MyTeam mode and the inclusion of details like taking part in F2 or F1 season full or shortened. After 11 years the online is still frustrating and loaded with bugs, which is a shame because beneath all that there is a very good F1 game. My advice for folks on the fence, give it a month or two to iron out these issues.
- Brilliant handling and much more refined
- MyTeam Career mode is a great idea
- Nice addition of details like full F2 season
- More buggy than a bug buggy racing in a VW bug buggering off
- Online badly needs refining and sorting out
- Some ideas needed fleshing out more
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
- Audio 0
- Technical 0