When it was announced earlier this year that Codemasters was working on two F1 games, one for last-gen consoles (F1 2014) and a brand new one for the shiny new, current consoles, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that F1 2014 was going to be an afterthought. No, I shouldn’t pass judgement so quickly, but it makes sense, right? Codemasters would want to impress on their first effort on the PS4 and Xbox One, so it makes perfect sense to focus all their efforts on that version, and churn out a “placeholder” for last-gen.
While F1 2014 is by no means a bad game, much of it feels a bit too familiar. On top of that, it seems that a number of features were taken out of the game, which is one of the few things I legitimately hate when developers do, especially in annual sports releases.
F1 2014 is a top of the line racing game simply because it’s a game from the F1 series. The series has always given racing fans tight gameplay, authentic representations of teams, cars, and tracks, and a variety of handling assists that can cater to either the fresh faced newbie or the grizzled racing veteran. All that still rings true for 2014; the game plays wonderfully and looks fantastic for a last-gen game, especially on the PC.
However, what that essentially means is we should all be happy with the same thing just because the “same thing” was already good to begin with, right? Not really, no.
Again, I want to reiterate that I can understand focusing the bulk of your efforts on the new version of F1. It just leaves a bad taste when features are taken away. The Classics mode from last year which included classic cars and tracks, is gone. That’s too bad because I loved all the classic content. It was a fun look into the history of F1 and gave us some cars that handled dramatically different from the current crop of technological marvels. It was also great to race on defunct circuits, and current circuits with old layouts. This year? None of that.
In fact, even the Young Driver’s Test (which I wasn’t a huge fan of to begin with, but that’s not the point) is pretty much gone. Instead of a full featured tutorial mode which taught you different aspects of the game via videos and “try it yourself” segments, all you get this time around is a quick lap of Monza, and BAM! have fun with the game. That’s fine for those of us who have played F1 games in the past and know what we’re doing, but a little confusing for those who may be dabbling in the game for the first time.
These issues aside, F1 2014’s gameplay is very well done. Like I mentioned before, the F1 series has always had tight, responsive gameplay, the 2014 is no exception. If you’re someone who just wants to have a good time and not worry about realism and physics, then there are various assists to help you out. Go ahead and have fun. If you’re someone who craves a more realistic experience and wants no driving assists, no driving line, and full damage, then good luck, and enjoy the game however you like. Codemasters seems to understand that there are a lot of gamers with a wide range of skills that may want to enjoy the game, and the game is not locked into one particular type.