Don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
Developer Codemasters built F1 2015 from the ground up on an entirely new engine. On the PS4 (there are some problems on the PC), the game runs at a smooth 1080p/60fps. Even if you're not a huge Formula One fan, these cars look amazing, and I’ve always been partial to the “stock car” world of Forza.
One of my biggest gripes about racing games has been the lack of personality that results from looking at cool tracks alongside drivers (if in fact, we ever even see a driver) whose faces are hidden under helmets. Maybe it’s because I was raised on Mario Kart where characters are big and colorful. Nonetheless, no matter how much I respected and occasionally enjoyed the Gran Turismo series, the lack of a human touch often left me cold.
The Forza series stepped up by including professional-sounding male and female voices to guide you through the menus. But actually, F1 2015 is by far the best I’ve seen at giving a racing game personality. Having a racing coach talk to you while driving is a nice addition. Could we get Robert Duvall to be my coach for the next iteration à la Days of Thunder? Having someone tell me about my goals, my speed, and my position never got old.
The game has several modes, but there’s no clear-cut career one… which is odd. Most of the time I chose Quick Race so I could easily pick a driver and location—Melbourne, London, Marina—which offered more than enough variety. Hardcore racers will most likely stick with the Championship Season Mode, which makes you choose only one driver and offers qualifying and practice races too. The game also comes packed with every racer and location from last season’s F1 2014. Even though there isn’t a career mode, there are options.
But otherwise, F1 2015 feels like a precursor to the real game. The tech is here, but where is the inspiration?
In terms of the controls, I had no complaints. I do not have a steering wheel add-on, but my DualShock 4 worked just fine. Interestingly, the pretty vistas ended up being somewhat distracting, making me almost not care that much about progressing or winning most of the time. I would speed up, slow down on the curves, repeat. I liked how the weather effects would make handling a challeng, but that’s about it. Complimenting the controls for such a bland experience really doesn’t add up to much.
One of the most annoying play mechanics has to be getting bumped for the millionth time by the game’s AI racers. The look and feel of F1 is mostly what you would expect from a sim: attention to details, more options than needed, and real-looking visuals. Why is it then that every time I’m in the lead, I get knocked around by a faceless competitor?
As for the multiplayer, I tried to test this around the time of the game’s release, but most of the time I couldn’t connect to the server. Even though it's not a big deal if you're not into multiplayer, come on, this is a racing game. Surely, most will want to use this feature, right?
The biggest problem, though, which ultimately makes F1 2015 “not recommended” is that the racing gets rather tedious. There are only so many rounds of Formula One that you can take without many changes. And without a career mode, there’s not much incentive to keep playing. There’s no real sense that I’m building anything, which makes for an unmemorable experience overall.