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Console Vs. PC: F1 2011

by on October 20, 2011


There are graphical and peripheral differences across the platforms which makes Codemasters title an interesting one to delve into.

We kick things off with the Xbox 360 version of the game which will be used as our console example this time around. As you can see by watching the video below, we are driving the red Ferrari of Fernando Alonso on the speedy Sepang International Circuit. Weather has been set to light cloud and the race to 3 laps.

Overall the 360 version looks great, cars and their reflective textures bounce light off nicely and the track itself is nicely detailed showing every skid mark. On the down-side, pit team character models are dull with matching facial expressions, whilst the garage wall is needlessly pixelated.

Our PC rig is equipped with an Intel i7 2600k 3.4ghz processor, an Nvidia 580 and 8 GB of Corsair Vengeance low profile RAM. It is fair to say that we had no trouble running F1 2011 on the highest settings which includes DirectX 11. We tried to mirror the Xbox 360 version as much as possible by selecting the same car, driver and circuit. Weather has once again been set to light cloud (which could potentially look better on the PC, as fluffier more realistic clouds were demonstrated back when DirectX 10 was being touted by Microsoft).

Once again the game looks great and is only let down by human character models and the outrageously pixely garage wall textures (look at the shell sign). It is a little difficult at this stage to point out any visual differences so we move to the side-by-side comparison below.

In a bid to make telling the difference between the platforms easier we have put the two video’s side-by-side. Now remember, we are using a PC with some of the latest tech and the power of DirectX 11 for our PC version. The Xbox 360 copy is running on an aging console with something more comparable to DirectX 9. Now that we have reminded you of that, can you tell which one is PC and which is Xbox 360? It is very hard to tell, the video on the right is clearly using lighter colours but nothing that can’t be changed by tweaking a few settings.

At around 2:50 on the timeline we see a great example of how the clouds are also very similar, they are almost identical in shape and colour so where are the fancy DX11 features? Textures on the PC do sometimes stand out but it is hard to tell at the brakeneck speed of Formula 1. It really seems like there is nothing in it visually, so other factors will have to decide this battle.

VERDICT: A really tough one to call, with no visual advantage we have to explore other factors which are perhaps a little subjective. A number of die hard racing fans out there own or have owned a gaming steering wheel at some point, with Logitech’s various wheel adaptations popular amongst PC and PlayStation 3 gamers. Unfortunately only a small selection of Microsoft approved wheels are compatible with the Xbox 360 making it difficult for fans to use one wheel for all platforms and games. The closed nature of the Xbox 360 has held the game back in this case, which leaves the PlayStation 3 and PC to fight it out. The game looks great on PC and PlayStation 3 and both support a number of good third party steering wheels, at this point things get even more subjective!

Ok so we should probably point out at this point, if you are not interested in steering wheels then any platform is great for F1 2011, if you want to play the game, get it for your favorite platform. Onto the wheel debate we go…

Most PC’s are set up at a desk or a table which offers a great anchoring point for your lovely steering wheel whereas PlayStation 3 users will likely have their console hooked up to a HDTV in their living room. With nowhere to put their wheel, they must purchase a stand which is not as cheap as you think.

So the PC is the winner? Not quite, PC users have experienced some issues with their client – random crashes and steering wheels falling out of sync, plus the use of the lacklustre Games For Windows LIVE as an online plaform have left PC gamers a little miffed. These problems plus the lack improved visuals hold the PC back when all it needs is a little more grip to reach top speed.

So who wins? Console or PC?