Right or wrong, Formula 1 came back this past weekend with a stonking good race in Austria, and this week Codemasters also return with F1 2020, a tour-de-force of a racing game.
It’s been a few years since I last delivered my Verdict on one of the F1 titles, but with a raft of eye-catching new features lined up for F1 2020 I had to take a closer look. Normally I would have been playing this on the PC, but the new splitscreen mode made my choice of platforms for me, PlayStation 4 it was.
One of the big joys of F1 2020 is the new casual game mode. In casual mode your race and assist options are simplified, damage is turned off and you will be re-set to the track after any daisy-cutting adventures. It’s perfectly suited for the newcomer to racing games, especially one that can be as harsh as F1. The handling model in casual mode feels tailor made for a game pad but isn’t too arcadey. As someone used to racing with less assistance from the computer, it took me some getting used to, I was slamming on the brakes although the computer was doing the same, and I was left very confused. My girlfriend had no expectations though and had a blast around the Silverstone short circuit, beating me every time.
The inclusion of the casual racing is welcome in the career too which sees the introduction of the My Team mode. Taking the role of team owner and driver of an eleventh team on the grid adds so much weight to proceedings. No longer are you at the mercy of the team you are racing for, here you are very much in control.
Through the team creation you choose an engine supplier and a driver from Formula 2, all set against the budget of your chosen sponsor. The livery editor might not offer the options some would expect, but it’s easy to use which again highlights accessibility of the game.
Before getting to the day to day team management, a very realistic Will Buxton interviews you with your answers shaping the early strengths of your car. It’s surprising how realistic Will looks when compared to the paddock interview team who look like they haven’t been touched by Codemasters for a few years.
Beyond the R&D side of things, team management sees you spread your wings into looking after the various departments that form a team. Investing in the areas at the core of the car can increase your R&D point generation or the quality of parts they produce, while you can also invest in a simulator to help develop the skills of your team mate, or spend money on your PR department to improve your driver and team reputation.
It’s by no means a management simulator, but there’s enough depth here to keep you more than entertained. For me, having that sense of ownership and personal investment in a sports game always helps elevate it, but for those who want to live the life of a superstar you can still start a career in Hamilton’s racing boots if you want, or climb the ladder from Formula 2.
This is the most welcoming F1 game, and indeed most welcoming simulation leaning racer out there. Alongside the aforementioned casual mode, in your career you can choose whether you want to undertake a 22-game race season or select your favourite tracks (and replicate the real world season) with 16 or 10-race seasons.
Being able to pick and choose from the tracks on offer and still contribute to a career is a fantastic feature. With lengthy load times and the rigmarole of practice, qualifying and races, a full-length season will be a serious time investment and see you taking to tracks that you might not enjoy. By choosing your tracks you can avoid the high-speed barrier lined Hanoi and focus on classic tracks like Silverstone and Austria or take on the fantastic Zandvoort.
What’s more, you aren’t restricted to completing your career in standard or casual mode. Before each session at a track you can play around with the realism settings and assists to find the right balance for you. At Hanoi I stuck things straight into casual mode as I explored every inch of steel barriers lining the track, while somewhere like Bahrain saw the standard mode with a suitable mix of assists (and some very easy AI) lead me to victory.
If you are an F1 history buff, there are 16-classic cars to race in invitational events during your career or in your own custom championships. The Michael Schumacher edition features four classic Schumacher cars (the Jordan 191 is exquisite), while the showroom offers a Forzavista style look at the full range of F1 machinery.
I will probably keep myself limited to offline racing. The splitscreen mode offers the casual multiplayer racing I am interested in, and the My Team mode offers more than enough depth over the potential 10-year career to keep me more than entertained.
For a newcomer to the more serious racers, or a seasoned pro, F1 2020 offers something for everyone. The most accessible simulation leaning racer on the market, Codemasters have certainly made the top step of the podium.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms available – PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Platform reviewed – PlayStation 4
Review based on code supplied by PR. Please read this post for more on our scoring policy.