While video game console launches are filled with excitement, they are also filled with disappointing launch titles. It’s not uncommon to see sports games that lack features which have become series staples. Although, it’s understandable when you consider working with new hardware, creating a new engine and rushing to hit a release date. But, in the curious case of F1 2015, which released over a year and a half after the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched, it isn’t a case of a disappointing launch title.
Let’s get this out of the way, F1 2015 is a disappointment. That doesn’t mean that it’s a lost cause, though. In many ways, it’s the best game in the beloved series, but several glaring omissions make this one hard to recommend, even if the core gameplay is fantastic.
Upon starting the game, players will be tasked with the rather strange decision to play either the 2014 season or 2015 season. While it was a smart choice to include both, it makes the user interface overly cumbersome.
Each season has its own main menu, which means different modes, online play, etc.. This makes some modes, such as Quick Race, overly complicated as each season features different tracks. Want to race on the F1 German Grand Prix track? Well, you’ll have to boot into the 2014 season first, as it isn’t in the 2015 season. Codemasters obviously had good intentions with including both seasons, but it makes navigation a pain.
The main two modes on offer here are the Championship Season and Pro Season. Championship Season will allow players to race an entire years worth of tracks in whatever difficulty they choose. The mode is more customizable than Pro Season, which requires players to tackle every lap of a race, but it still isn’t that beginner friendly. The shortest a track can be in Championship Season is 25% of the regulation length, which means that each race will take around 15 laps. If you’re looking for a quick three lap race, then you’re out of luck. The lack of choice in track length is disappointing, but there is some upside to the longer races.
Since you’ll be spending a lot of time on each track, F1 2015 feels a lot different than your average racing game. For one, races are given enough time to allow stories to develop organically. Players will gain rivals as they battle for position and will definitely feel satisfied when they pass them on the final corner. Any sports fan will know that some of the best stories are told during an event, and the same can be said in F1 2015. Sure, there isn’t any character development or plot twists, but you’ll get to persevere over challenges.
As for the racing found in F1 2015, it just might be the best in the series. There are enough customizable player assists (such as driving lines, assisted braking, etc.) for the game to be immediately picked up and played. That said, if all the assists are turned off, it also features the same depth and difficulty that the series is famous for. Codemasters has created a game that is accessible to new players but also caters toward the hardcore crowd that buys the new F1 every year.
Take one look at gameplay footage and you’ll be able to see that upgrading the visuals was a big focus in F1 2015. This is not only the best looking F1 game that we’ve seen, but it is one of the best looking racing games on the marketplace, hands down. The tracks are replicated with an amazing attention to detail and the game’s sense of speed is astonishing. F1 2015 is a graphical showcase in every sense.
Sadly, there just aren’t many ways to enjoy the stellar racing that’s found here. Besides the two season modes and multiplayer, there’s only a time trial mode to check out. There is no career mode, nor is there any challenge modes to let you relive your favorite moments of last year’s F1 season. It’s disappointing to see such a featureless game, since the core gameplay is so compelling. One would expect that next year’s title will be more functional, but right now, F1 2015 feels like a launch game.
The issues don’t stop there, either, as the multiplayer in F1 2015 is completely jacked. The main issue with the online play is that the game takes forever to find a match, despite only offering a few select ways to play online. If you are lucky enough to find a match after a few minutes, then you’ll have to hope you can get into it without an error popping up. About 80% of the online matches I tried to join ended up with a text prompt informing that an error had occurred. Thankfully, once in an online lobby the game plays fine.
In many ways, F1 2015 is the best game in the series. The tracks have never looked better, and the racing is highly polished. However, there just aren’t enough ways to enjoy the fantastic driving. Modes that fans have come to expect are missing and the broken multiplayer makes it a hassle to play with other players. Sadly, Codemasters has taken one step forward, but two steps back with their latest release.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version, which we were provided with for review.
While the racing action has never looked or played better, F1 2015 unfortunately disappoints in its lack of modes.