Google+ Jack Leslie F1: F1 2016 Game Review

22 August 2016

F1 2016 Game Review

The new F1 2016 game has finally landed, with Codemasters releasing its second Formula 1 title for new-generation consoles.
F1 2015 delivered improved handling and graphics, but a lack of features and the absence of career mode left the game feeling a bit empty. Fortunately that's all changed with this year's release.

Having spent two weeks in London away from my beloved PlayStation 4, I was eager to return home last weekend and try out the latest F1 game installment (as well as seeing family and friends, of course).

I spent a good chunk of time playing F1 2016, taking down notes and exploring the new features. Here's what I've discovered from my time playing the game so far:

Career mode

F1 2015 removed career mode and this was met with widespread criticism from F1 game fans. Sure, playing a championship as another driver may be fun for a little while but you want to transport yourself into the game and immerse your own character in the fast-paced F1 world.

Thankfully it seems a year out has provided Codemasters with the chance to bring career mode back with a bang. There have been improvements all round, but the biggest feature is that a career can now last up to 10 seasons – a staggering amount of time. 

I've never been particularly interested in career mode and usually lose interest after one season. But I can definitely see that changing now. The added cinematics and return of the 'live the life' aspect are all very welcome, I've been wanting a return of the location-based career hub for some time.

There are new characters like your agent and engineer who communicate with you regularly, while there are also recognisable figures from F1 in real life relaxing in the motorhome between sessions. I'll explain a few more of the features later on but for now I'll focus on a major career mode component – R&D.

Practice now has a purpose in F1 2016, with programmes to work through in order to pick up resource points. These can be spent on car improvements and updates so your team can keep up with the development race, as the other teams around you bring in upgrades and new parts too.

I haven't experienced too much of this yet as I'm only five races into my career mode but the main positive with R&D is that the pecking order can change drastically over the course of the 10 seasons, which is hugely intriguing and a big boost for the game and the realism of career mode. I've picked Force India for my career so my main focus has been improving aerodynamics and handling, rather than the engine.


Another new element is the customisation in career mode. You can pick from any team and can select your own avatar to represent you. The choices are rather limited but maybe that'll change, plus you can choose a race number (from those the F1 grid aren't using) and customise the colours and livery of your helmet, meaning no design will be the same.

Graphics and handling

As you'd expect from a game that releases a new version annually, these two important elements have gone through evolutions, rather than revolutions. F1 2015 set a good foundation for graphics and handling but the two have been upgraded. It's noticeable but not overwhelmingly so.

The attention to detail in the visual elements of the game mean it looks better than ever. Slight changes to the handling model to represent F1's development each season mean it takes a little getting used to – the rear feels looser and it's more challenging in wet conditions.

New race features

A number of new elements have been added, as well as bringing back the safety car. This has worked well in my experience so far and you have full control of your car, having to keep to a delta time. It's the same when the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) is deployed but this one is trickier to get right and I've had a few niggly issues with it.

There's a new information display and menu that looks more like the screens on the F1 steering wheels. It's more complicated to operate and there's way more information and team radio options, you can even tell your engineer to shut up if he's talking too much.

Once you get used to it, working the display and menu is perfectly fine – although it does take some multitasking, just like when drivers are making adjustments on their own steering wheel.

The formation lap is a new addition to the game but after a while the novelty wears off and I've had a few glitches and problems with it already. I've actually turned it off now as it feels like wasted time but I'm sure some gamers will appreciate the feature.

By far my favourite new addition is manual starts. It's challenging to get right, especially on your first go, but eventually you get the hang of it. The feature means race starts are more varied both for you and the AI, so it creates added drama. Manual pit entry, where you have to slow down to the speed limit line on your own, is also pretty cool but I keep getting it wrong!

Aggressive AI

That's a good thing. Sometimes F1 games have lacked the flair and competitiveness required from the AI. If they can't challenge you for positions and give you a hard time, there's no fun in it. Fortunately the AI has been greatly improved and the cars actually race you pretty hard.

You can also see who's more aggressive and who's one of the tamer drivers. They're no longer painfully slow on the first lap, which means you can't dive up the inside of 10 cars at the opening corner. It's all very encouraging and makes for a fun, immersive gaming experience.

Multiplayer tweaks

The multiplayer elements of the game have changed too and it's now even easier to find a lobby or set up a league with your friends. Loading times have been cut down and there isn't as much lag, although the stupid, crashy players still remain. You can have full 22-grid online races now, which makes for unsurprisingly chaotic scenes.

Tyres play a bigger role

The overall race experience is much more fun and makes you feel more involved than ever before. Tyres play a larger part in the race result, there's higher degradation, more noticeable differences between the compounds and more strategy options to choose from. It all livens up the on-track action. 

Not all good though

F1 2016 is a very, very good game. I'd go as far as saying it's the best F1 game I've played. It's better in all areas and has made huge strides forward, but it isn't all positive.

It's crashed on me a few times, the pre-session and post-session broadcast-style commentary is dull and repetitive and I've noticed a few small glitches and problems. 

Formation laps don't add much to the game and the team radio dialogue can get pretty annoying, especially the constant requests to change strategy. You can tell the engineer to be quiet but it'd still be nice to have a bit more variety. 


Overall, I've been really impressed with F1 2016 so far. Codemasters has listened to the fans and created an immersive racing game that both casual and diehard fans can enjoy for quite some time. It definitely gets my recommendation. 

Images via Codemasters

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