The F1 video game series is in a funny position. Over the course of the past few years, it’s been almost perfected by veteran racing developer Codemasters to the point that it’s relatively difficult to critique it. With that said, like Formula 1 racing in real-life, the tiniest of tweaks and changes can either result in a winning formula or a flaming wreck, and thankfully F1 2020 makes enough fine tunings that should appease fans and lure in some newcomers.
For anyone who’s played any previous F1 games (or anyone who’s remotely familiar with the sport), you will know what to expect here: high-octane racing around licensed tracks recreated in meticulous detail, and all the official F1 cars and drivers for petrol-heads to gawk at; and F1 2020 makes it pretty easy to do so.
The franchise has always had stellar graphics and presentation, but F1 2020 ups the ante in terms of capturing the authentic Formula 1 look and feel. Everything from the UI, slick menus, and smallest of details resemble that of the real-world F1 broadcasts – something hardcore fans will really appreciate. There are smaller upgrades to some of the textures and track details, but you’ll have to really focus to find them, which is just a testament to the care that the developers have put into this series.
Of course, the racing itself is sublime, and really throws the curveball-challenge that the real-life experience does; so F1 2020 doubles-down on the preparation and tuning aspect of your car prior to races, which really do make all the difference. You can give your car a boost on the handling capabilities (to make those less forgiving corners a little more bearable), for example. It’s clear that Codemasters want the game to be closer to the sport than ever before, while being the most accessible entry for newcomers to the franchise, thanks to some additional racing options to make it a bit easier and more forgiving, if you feel the need to do so (we definitely ploughed into a few walls during our first few hours).
The real meat of the F1 games is the career mode though, and F1 2020 features the deepest to date, where you can take control of Ferrari, Mercedes, and many others on offer. However, there are some new modes too. ‘My Team’ is the star of the show, where you’ll be able to create your own team and take your place alongside the 2020 line-up of established brands. This customisation is a welcome addition to the series and finally gives the franchise that unique personalised touch for each player, which F1 fans will undoubtedly find themselves being immersed in the most.
A massive bonus (and something that is shamelessly overlooked in today’s racing genre) is that F1 2020 features two-player split-screen, so you can indulge in some head-to-head action with your buddies, delivering some nostalgia from F1 games of old. It runs smoothly and is the best reason to get some friends around ahead of the next F1 event.
For F1 fans, F1 2020 is a no-brainer of a purchase. It provides the best Formula 1 racing experience you’ll find on console and PC, and enhances the experience with a streamlined presentation and interface. It really is a love-letter to fans, as Codemasters have listened to the feedback and added in all the little personalised touches in terms of customisation options, and brought back the much-loved split-screen multiplayer.
F1 2020 is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.