F1 2016 in test - what a comeback!
Updated as usual
As befits a licensed F1 game, F1 was brought up to date in terms of scope and control technology in 2016. With the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring and the debut of the Baku circuit in Azerbaijan, the racing calendar now includes a total of 21 events, the Briton Jolyon Palmer is moving into the paddock and the teams are joined by the Haas F1 racing team. Small downer: Codemasters canceled the previous season, the Classic content and the scenario modes for F1 2016, so the mode selection is shrinking a bit.
Rubbing your eyes in career mode
But the sadness about it quickly evaporates when you plunge into the revised career mode, to be honest, we even rub our eyes in confusion. While last year the dry career presented was still at great risk of being relocated, in F1 2016 it mutates into a true model student, even compared to other genre colleagues.
Now we are finally allowed to go to the start again with our own driver (no editor, there are only given faces) and choose a racing team, people like our manager or the head of the development department can actually be seen and speak to us directly. And our driver lounge serves as a cozy center for the next race weekend, which we select with our virtual laptop.
Grand Prix as desired
The Grand Prix events themselves can be put together as desired - (almost) exactly as we asked for last year: We can decide for ourselves how many practice runs we want to do, how fast the qualifying takes place and how long it takes Main race lasts. Here Codemasters has primarily thought of the friends of quick decisions.
It is no longer necessary to complete at least 25% of the race distance, the number of laps can be reduced to a minimum of three. This makes the career mode much more individual, and F1 2016 is no longer as popular as its predecessor. For example, we can also join top teams like Mercedes or Ferrari directly, but then we have to live with higher demands from the team bosses and get better placements at the start of our career if we don't want to lose our cockpit.
On the line, Codemasters also changes a few things to the delight of all detail and realism fetishists, where we can only say "Why not just like that?" For example, we are finally allowed to drive the introductory lap ourselves - the serpentine curve is really fun - there is a safety car (both real and virtual) and the starting mini-game provides a thrill right at the start of a race.
At the push of a button, we keep the clutch depressed while we keep the engine in the correct speed range with the accelerator pedal. When the start lights go out, you have to let go of the clutch at the right moment. If you have the wrong timing here, in the worst case you will lose a hard-won position and have to roll up the field from behind.
Our absolute favorite innovation, however, is the integration of vehicle development into the driver's career. Before each race, we can choose different programs during the training phase. When acclimatizing the track, for example, it is important to drive through colored gates on the racing line, with tire management we have to keep the wear and tear on our tires in the green (or even better purple) area, and the qualifying pace test requires the best possible lap time.
Depending on how well we do, we earn resource points , which we then invest in improving components in our development department - for example in engine performance or fuel efficiency . In this way, the development component, which is so important in reality, also has decisive relevance in the game, which not only motivates, but also contributes to a better understanding of stretching - great!
Neither arcade nor simulation - but still very good
In terms of driving behavior and feel, F1 2016 builds on the very solid foundation of its predecessor and is once again an excellent mid-way between arcade and simulation this year. Thanks to a number of driving aids such as ABS, brake and steering assistants, some of which can be set in several stages, as well as the rewind function, which is hated by realism fans but very practical in long races, everyone can put together their very own F1 challenge.
We particularly like the behavior of the tires on the track, especially when exiting bends you have to be very careful that the inside of the vehicle does not skid too much - especially without activated driving aids. In addition, the wear and tear of the tires is noticeable over long distances, the driving experience is much more soapy with worn tires. Before a race, we can also choose from one of five standard setups or tweak the fine-tuning of aerodynamics, differential or deceleration ourselves.
AI and penalty system
The opponent's strength can be set in one of a total of seven levels, whereby we recommend starting at least with the third. In general, the AI guys drive happily little like a robot and sometimes make one or the other mistake, but like last year they go about their work quite brutally here and there and often thunder us rudely into the rear when braking, for example.
The damage model is not always comprehensible and optically still needs improvement, for example we think that a total write-off occurs too quickly. At least the hair-pulling factor of the penalty system has been lowered, even if it is not yet perfect.
Although the game still punishes some shortcut maneuvers rather inconsistently - despite the setting options - we are no longer held accountable when an AI colleague thunders into us in the chassis. Incidentally, we can check the status of our vehicle at any time via the small on-board computer in the lower right corner or ask for voice input via the headset from the box, which also works very well. In general, the box keeps us up to date very well via radio, gives intermediate results and leads and notifies us when a vehicle has failed.
Water and Romans - this time without Valium
But not only the pit radio contributes to the great feeling of being right in the middle of it all: The atmosphere before and after a race is also perfectly captured in F1 2016. There are camera pans into the pit lane, in which the drivers prepare, discuss with their designers or give interviews, and after a race the obligatory champagne-tainted award ceremony. The characters' faces in particular could have a little more emotions and less wax figure charms and the lines still seem a bit sterile.
But the rain races are a real experience - not only visually, but also playfully. The engine noises are at a decent level and F1 commentators Heiko Wasser and Stefan Römer will be guiding the racing circuit again this year. Their comments are repeated every now and then, but they also have a lot of interesting things to tell and, unlike last year, they left the Valium tablets in the closet.