After spending a lot of time playing F1 2021, it’s clear Codemasters wants to welcome everyone to play it. Of all the racing games I’ve played over the years, this has to be one of the best. It feels like every skill level has been catered for. It also wants casual F1 fans to get as much out of it as the hardcore ones. There is so much packed into this year’s title that a lot of people are going to have a great time playing everything F1 2021 has to offer.
F1 2021: A fantastic story
The big selling point this year is the single player story Braking Point. It follows newcomer Aiden Jackson as he rises the ranks of F2 to compete in his first season with the big boys of Formula One. Firstly, Braking Point is thoroughly enjoyable. Codemasters has fused on the track and behind the scenes drama very well. Secondly, the various objectives are diverse enough to provide a variety of challenges throughout. It all starts well for Jackson. He’s happy to be racing with the best in the world, and be teammates with a veteran of the sport, Casper Akkerman. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how long it is.
A lot of work has gone in to building Jackson and Akkerman’s relationship. Jackson is hungry. He wants to impress, but is still naïve and impressionable. Akkerman is almost ready to call it quits, and feels threatened by the new blood. What makes it worse is a familiar face to the F1 series, Devon Butler. He’s arrogant, loves to intervene, and is quite frankly, a bit of a dick. After a huge balls up in Mexico, the story really starts to pick up pace.
Objectives range from recovering from a faulty gearbox or damaged tyres, and finishing an entire race to reach the podium. Some objectives must be completed over a handful of laps, whilst others take longer. This gives you a chance to become familiar with every circuit of the official F1 season. You travel the world, racing in Italy, the Netherlands, and China. Between races, you have access to your social media feed, emails, and the TV. They’ll give you an insight into how you’re viewed by the masses as well as the inner workings of PR and your team work.
Handling is sublime
EA Sports have a habit of writing great stories to accompany their sports titles, like the exceptional Longshot from Madden NFL 18. Whilst the FIFA Journey stuff wasn’t as good, their single-player stuff has never felt like filler. Braking Point is an exceptional mode that not only has a top notch story that has plenty of dramatic weight to it, it allows newcomers a chance to get to grips with driving. Controlling the car is superb. Regardless of the mode, racing around a track is constantly exciting.
Handling your car across the wealth of circuits requires a wide range of skill. However, Codemasters has made driving incredibly rewarding. Due to the variety in the F1 tracks, different courses require a complete change of tactics. Monza is all about speed, but there’re some tight chicanes than can be deadly if not approached with caution. Zandvoort in the Netherlands feels much like a rollercoaster where many straights and long corners are at an angle.
Whatever the challenge, controlling the car takes precision and a strategic mind. Not only do you need to break at the correct time and approach corners carefully, coming out of a bend and picking up speed can make a lot of difference. You also have to pay attention to the condition of the wheels and not rely on constantly speeding across the track. Too much wear and tear can result in an early pit stop break. The nuances between car design and stats make each team feel different. It’s remarkable how realistic they feel while out on the track.
F1 2021: Something for everyone
The wide range of modes makes F1 2021 a huge value for money. My Team lets you become both the driver and the team manager. Making sure your car is equipped with the latest technology; spending your resources to upgrade your car without cutting corners; planning in social and formal events to make money; and more gives you full control of how your team progresses through the season. The realistic structure of race weekends makes it both fun to take part in, but also rewarding. By completing challenges in the practice sessions, you can gain special rewards to help upgrade your car and team.
Better performances improve your standings as a driver but also as a team. By spending time in R&D, you’ll be competing with the likes of Aston Martin, Red Bull, and Mercedes. The presentation is also sublime. Race weekends are incredibly lifelike. There’re always interviewers ready to get a few words with you. These can improve your team depending on the answers you give. The pre-race build-up, the podium cutscenes, and everything in between make it so exhilarating.
If you just want to play through a career, you can now do it with a friend. Of course, the option to play alone is still available, but by playing with your mate makes seasons more enjoyable. You can work together, or race each other. If you’re playing in the same room, two-player split-screen returns to allow it to happen. Real-Season Start gives players the chance to jump into a real season, with up-to-date driver stats. For fans of the sport, this is wonderful.
Next-generation of racing
Playing F1 2021 on PS5 is out of this world. Cinematics are the closest to real-life as I’ve ever seen on the console so far. At times in Braking Point, I wasn’t sure if certain animations were real or not. It’s that good. Whilst racing, the atmosphere is built by just how good the tracks look, and how fans help to elevate the excitement. There’s a great attention to detail, too. I had an issue with my right tyre in one race, and the damage was noticeable as it shook independently of the other tyres. T
The way the driver’s head bob as you reach 190mph; the pit crew; the colour and variety among the trees and surrounding flora; the detail in the track floor. There’s also great detail in any slight knock on your car from a collision. Everything about F1 2021’s visuals impressed me. The DualSense is impeccably well utilised. Every gear change or slight press of the breaks is felt in the palm of your hands. As the throttle roars and you enter and exit corners makes full use of Sony’s impressive tech. It’s clear Codemasters has put a lot of effort into the PS5 version.
F1 2021 is a masterpiece of modern racing. Braking Point is a fantastic jumping in point with some well-written story beats as well as engaging objectives to complete with every race. My Team is enjoyable as ever, and the two-player career is a much-needed addition to improve friendly rivalries with friends. Perhaps its greatest accomplishment is making the art of driving about as realistic and tight as it possibly can. Newcomers will fit right in, but there are so many tweaks to the options that veterans can try it on the new Expert mode and have a hell of a time with it.
Braking Point is excellent
Handling is spot on
So much to do
Newcomers might be put off by the details inside R&D