F1 2021 Review

Last year Codemasters smashed F1 2020 out of the park with their offline offering. The addition of My Team was a huge success given it was the first time we’ve seen anything like it in a Codemasters F1 game. This year they’ve once again added something new, is it good? Or is it the “Braking Point” for the game (shocking…- Ed).

Let’s dive straight into the main attraction of this year’s game then, shall we? I was very hyped for the arrival of Braking Point story mode as I loved the story mode in the old Codemasters 2003 game TOCA Race Driver (I’m not that old, honest), a game that was described as a “Car-PG” at the time. However, without trying to dish out any story spoilers here I have to say I was a little underwhelmed with the story itself, maybe it’s because I’ve been around the block a few times and I’ve seen the “new young guy takes on the experienced old guy whilst being manipulated by the story villain” one to many times. For the record though I would like to say the characters are well written, especially Mr Devon Butler who returns after a year’s hiatus and is in good “want to punch you in the face” form.

The gameplay mechanics have improved again, after years of being able to transfer setups in between games this year we need a different approach, oh and curbs…are not your friends!

The fabulous My Team returns for F1 2021, which has had a few tweaks. Firstly, if you purchase the Deluxe edition you’ll have the chance to have one of seven icons join your team. These drivers include the greats of Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and my personal favourite, 7-time World Drivers Champion, Michael Schumacher. Now you won’t be able to afford these guys straight off the bat, so you’ll have to work hard to get them in your team, but you can of course choose not to have them around if you don’t want to.

Gone are the R&D trees we’ve seen over the past few years and we now presented with a much more streamlined approach.  On first look nothing has been taken out so you can still develop the car the way you want to, where you try and improve your Chassis or go for raw engine power, the choice is yours. Practice sessions have also been given a face lift this year so you won’t be stuck doing the same tasks every race.

Accessible racing has also taken a step forward this year as it lets you experiment with more ‘tools’ as you can go from Casual mode to Standard and then Expert, the latter being particularly interesting as in career mode you can adjust potential R&D points, cash flow and mechanical failures. Finding your car is developing too fast? Fine, you can boost the amount of R&D points the AI get, or perhaps you prefer torture, and you give yourself less points whilst also boosting the AIs.

A Codemasters F1 game wouldn’t be complete without a vanilla career mode and that’s the case here. The acclaimed 10-year career is in the game and has all the bells and whistles of My Team, except of course the team control the facilities upgrades. One major update though is that you can now do a ‘real season start’ so you can align your career with the real-world season.

A Two Player Co-op career also makes its debut in this year’s game. It doesn’t disappoint in terms of content as you have same control as you do in a normal career mode. You have the choice of being in the same team and following each other if you decide to move team’s, or you can start at different teams for a different kind of rivalry. The only negative is that it’s online only, so even though split screen is back, you can’t do a local two player career which is a shame, but I’m hopeful that this could be considered for the future.

Unfortunately, this year there is no sign of any classic cars, which to be honest isn’t the end of the world as they put their resources into Breaking Point, two player career and Real-Season start. I personally didn’t use them very often, but they were always nice to look at in the showroom.

With the ever changing landscape of real world events (looking at you Covid), It was always going to be a challenge to be 100% accurate with the track calendar so at launch you’ll be able to do a maximum of 20 races in your career (You can still shorten this as well if you just want to select your favourite tracks to race at), with China, the 21st track available in Time Trial and Online races, later on Codemasters will be releasing a free update and adding the Imola, Portimao and Jeddah tracks taking the total to 24.

F1 2021 is first time we have ventured on to the new generation of consoles, so if you’re lucky enough like me to own an Xbox Series X then you can experience all the joys that come with that; those lovely quicker loading times, the cars all look and sound amazing. I seriously can’t get enough of that sweet turbo sound in those engines.

Podium pass is back, so for Deluxe game owners you’ll be able spend some of your 18,000 pitcoins on the first season, which costs 9,000 pitcoins but if you make it to tier 30 then you would’ve earned that 9,000 back. For players not wanting that option there is a free 2,500 in the pass, so you’ll be able to slowly unlock those cosmetics later on.

Conclusion

Despite Breaking Point not hitting the mark with me, F1 2021 is an exceptional game for their first entry onto the Series X consoles and will keep F1 fans happy for another year.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Devon freaking Butler
  • Beautiful engine noises
  • Content galore to keep you busy
  • Real season start for career mode
Bad
  • Generic story for Breaking Point
  • Two player co-op career is online only
9.3
Excellent
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 9
Audio - 10
Longevity - 10
Written by
I first got my hands on a gaming console in ‘91 with the NES and haven’t looked back since, playing on a variety of consoles and PCs over the years. Once a year you will also find me doing a trilogy play through of either Mass Effect or Dragon Age.

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