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F1 2021 Review — Injecting Heart & Character into the Racing Genre

Does F1 2021 take pole position for another season of racing euphoria?

Jeremy Proome

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The F1 series has been given a boost thanks to the return of EA as its publisher after a number of years, along with a handful of additions and changes that add a little more flair to the already excellent franchise.

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 2021 makes it pretty easy to do so. The franchise has always had stellar graphics and presentation, but F1 2021 ups the ante in terms of capturing the authentic Formula 1 look and feel, especially on the Xbox Series X and PS5. 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.

As for presentation, arguably the biggest change in F1 2021 is the inclusion of a story mode, similar to that of FIFA‘s ‘The Journey’ or the Fight Night Champion. The story is quite familiar in the sense that it follows the rookie-driver-trying-to-make-a-name-for-himself set-up, but the cutscenes and characters are excellently realised, which also brings some great context and immersion to the races to help those who often feel disconnected from the coldness of some racing games.

As for the game’s on-track action, you’ll get to dabble into most of the season’s official tracks, with new circuits including Imola, Portimão and the calendar newcomer Jeddah being added as free DLC. It’s a shame they weren’t available at launch, but what is there is recreated in stunning detail, and the unique turns and challenges that each of these tracks feature add some exciting variety to the usual line-up.

Of course, the racing itself is sublime, and really throws the curveball-challenge that the real-life experience does; so F1 2021 doubles-down on the preparation and tuning aspect of your car prior to races, which really do make all the difference. 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, allowing you to automate a lot of the nitty-gritty, if you feel the need to do so. The damage system seems to have been overhauled though, and will have more of an effect on your car throughout races if you end up touch tyres with other racers.

The real meat of the F1 games is the career mode though, and F1 2021 features the deepest to date, where you can take control of Ferrari, Mercedes, and many others on offer. This extent of the customisation options is impressive, and die-hard F1 fans will undoubtedly find themselves being immersed the most in this mode.

For F1 fans, F1 2021 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. The addition of an enjoyable and genre-pushing story mode is appreciated and a great inclusion to warrant a purchase, let alone the wealth of other fine-tunings which have taken place under the hood.

F1 2021 is available on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

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