F1 2011 Previewed: Even Better Than The Real Thing

I'd prefer to swim with sharks that watch a Grand Prix, but F1 2011 is a belting game, and it means I won't have to befriend Nige in accounts and start watching Top Gear...
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I'd prefer to swim with sharks that watch a Grand Prix, but F1 2011 is a belting game, and it means I won't have to befriend Nige in accounts and start watching Top Gear...

I have always lived with a crippling fear of becoming a Formula One fan.

That one day I would wake-up and understand the attraction of watching motorsport; the shrill whine of the engines, the painfully fragile cars, the vacant stares of corporate drivers. Something would just click and I would ‘get it’.

And I would return to work on Monday and start to bond with Nige and Greg from accounts. A few cheeky emails, some shared Twitter banter during Top Gear. Next thing you know, I’m sat in a countryside pub, wearing cowboy boots and telling Nige, very loudly, about the amount of poke in my V9.

So I’m wary of Formula One; or anything which could act as a gateway into that grotesque world. And the biggest temptation takes the form of driving games; especially really good ones like F1 2010. This was the classy Codemasters racing sim which won the best sports game award at last year’s BAFTAs.

It was a game which showed how Formula One makes much more sense as a video game than it does as a real-world sport. The look and feel of hammering around a track at daft speeds is so well recreated that it makes the real thing seem like an expensive indulgence.

And luckily for me, the better these games become, the more ridiculous it seems for anyone to sit and passively watch motorsport

When you see the in-game footage it’s genuinely difficult to tell it apart from TV coverage. Which begs the question: does Formula One really exist? Or has Bernie Ecclestone switched over to using a digital simulator? It would help explain why Lewis Hamilton looks like he’s escaped from a Pixar movie.

But let’s leave that to the conspiracy theorists because Codemasters are currently finishing off work on the sequel, the cleverly titled F1 2011, and from early glimpses it looks like the improvements will go beyond spit and polish.

The multiplayer side of things has been revamped so you can now have up to 16 players competing online. You can also team-up with a mate to play as a team over a season and an option to play using a split-screen has been added.

One of the best things about F1 2010 was the career mode in which you choose who you race for, upgrade your fragile car and deal with the media. This side of the game has been overhauled and hopefully the media bits will feel a little less clunky.

Other than that they have added two new tracks - the Buddh International Circuit in India and the Nurburging circuit in Germany – as well as updating the driver roster and licensed gubbins. They reckon they have also fixed a lot of the gripes people had with the original games AI and handling.

It’s all sounding good. And luckily for me, the better these games become, the more ridiculous it seems for anyone to sit and passively watch motorsport. Why would you do that when you can play the bugger? Yes, Nige – I’m talking to you.

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