Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Formula 1 2020 racing season started only last month, instead of in March, and it will have only 12 races, instead of the scheduled 22.
However, you can race virtually through the 22 tracks, including the new Circuit Zandvoort in Netherlands and Hanoi street circuit in Vietnam, if you play the official F1 2020 game, which also lets you start and manage an F1 team.
Let us start with the game's staple career mode. The cheesy story mode, in which you have a made-up arch rival, found in the game's predecessor, is gone. Instead, you start with being a promising F2 driver in the 2019 season, where you can choose to participate in a partial or full season and not just three races as in the previous game.
The F2 races serve as a nice warm-up to get used to the gameplay elements, from driving to choosing a car setup.
Before that, though, you have to create your in-game avatar, and this is where the game falls short. There are limited customisation options for the avatar - you can choose only from an existing library of faces, in which I find only two Asians.
There are more options for helmets, car liveries, race suits and celebration emotes. Still, these options are relatively sparse compared with top-tier racing games such as Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo.
Depending on how well you do in the F2 2019 season, you will be offered a place in one of the 10 F1 teams for the 2020 season.
Like its predecessors, F1 2020 reigns over its competition in terms of racing simulation, graphics, broadcast-like presentation and audio realism.
Racing a virtual F1 car is never easy, but you can tweak the difficulty to match your skill. Those new to the game can, for instance, turn on all the driving assists, including steering, braking and traction control.
But even with these assists, a lapse of concentration will send you crashing out of a race. And it can be hard to focus with the monotone roar of the engine, as there is no music when you are racing an F1 car.
Thankfully, you can use the flashback function, which allows you to rewind a few seconds of the race at any point and restart, to rectify the mistakes you have made.
• Realistic gameplay
• Comes with all the current F1 teams and tracks
• Adjustable difficulty levels
• Addictive My Team mode
• Limited customisations for player's in-game avatar
• Can get complicated for non-F1 fans
PRICE: From $49 (PS4; PC; Xbox One, version tested)
GENRE: Racing simulation
A new feature and probably the major highlight of F1 2020 is the My Team mode, which allows you to create your own F1 team and enter the 2020 season as the 11th team on the grid.
You have to assemble your team from scratch, including finding sponsors, picking the right engine, recruiting drivers and selecting liveries and a logo. The best part is you will be one of the two drivers in your team.
I find this mode to be addictive. Not only are you thinking about driving and winning races, but you are also thinking about ways to make more money for your team by holding events like merchandise sales. And you need to have team-building activities to raise morale, but these cost money, which you need to track to ensure you have enough to upgrade your car. Ultimately, the success of the team depends on race results.
However, if you are not an F1 fan, you might be overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. This is especially so if you are not familiar with racing jargon such as powertrain, drag reduction and energy recovery system.
Nonetheless, with the new My Team mode and its realistic racing simulation, the F1 2020 game will provide you with many hours of racing fun.