Must-have for F1 fans who want the real deal

Even when the difficulty level of the F1 2015 game is set to 'easy', the racing mechanics are complicated and a player has to know when to change his tyres according to weather conditions.
Even when the difficulty level of the F1 2015 game is set to 'easy', the racing mechanics are complicated and a player has to know when to change his tyres according to weather conditions.PHOTO: CODEMASTERS

I have been racing Formula 1 (F1), the game that is, since its 2010 version. But the yearly refresh of the game is always released when the actual F1 season is about to wrap up in October. For me, this dampens the excitement.

So imagine my glee when I got my hands on this year's iteration, F1 2015, which came out earlier in July. However, I was disappointed when I powered up the game.

My favourite Career mode is gone. This is the mode that lets a gamer start out as an unknown driver and make a name for himself to join big teams like Ferrari .

Instead, there are only the Championship Season, Pro Season, Quick Race, Time Trial and Multiplayer modes in this iteration.

  • 7.5/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $59.90 (PC), $79.90 (PS4, version tested; Xbox One)

    GENRE: Racing

In the Championship Season mode, you can choose to be one of the 20 drivers for this season's F1 race and compete in the 19 races, starting from Melbourne and ending in Abu Dhabi.

You can choose the difficulty level and select whether you want the short, normal or long weekend.

The short weekend includes a 15-minute practice, a one-shot qualifying and 25 per cent of the real race distance. The normal weekend gives you 30-minute practice, a short qualifying and 50 per cent race distance. The long weekend gives you the real deal. You get 60-minute practice sessions, three rounds of qualifying and the full race distance. This level can be hard (imagine zipping around Singapore's tough Marina Bay Circuit 61 times).

For those who want a bigger challenge, there is the Pro Season. This is where you get the full race weekends and drive only from a helmet's view with no on-screen display (like what an F1 driver sees).

But even if the difficulty level is set to easy, the racing mechanics are as complicated as in the real F1. You need to know when to change your tyres according to weather conditions and how to tune your car set-up to suit the race track.

This year's game offers the most realistic driving mechanics and you can feel the stunning pace of the car during races. Veer off to the greens, pick up some debris and the tyres will deteriorate faster.

Thankfully, your race engineer will keep you up to date about tyre wear, race strategy and who is behind you during races.

The computer artificial intelligence (AI) opponents are more realistic. They defend their positions well to prevent you from overtaking. But, at times, they make mistakes that you can capitalise on.

All the drivers' faces are life-like and their cars are authentically recreated. The race tracks look fantastic, too.

However, the graphics look a tad dated up close. You will notice some jaggedness of the decals on the car and helmets, for instance. In addition, the lack of any music, other than the fluctuating roar of the engine, can easily make you lose concentration.

• Verdict: The F1 2015 game is still a must-have for F1 fans who want an authentic race experience. Just a pity that the Career mode is no more.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Must-have for F1 fans who want the real deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe