F1 2011 – Codemasters’ F1 sequel played

F1 video game

F1 2011 by Codemasters

F1 2011 by Codemasters

Codemasters’ first F1 game, F1 2010, enjoyed huge sales and won a BAFTA award.

Doubtless part of that success was motivated by the lack of an official F1 game for four years. But it’s clear from the activity on the F1 Fanatic Forum players haven’t put the game down months after it came out.

But what can Codemasters do to entice people to buy the sequel, due out in September? I went to a preview event on Wednesday to find out and try the latest version of the game.

The 2011 update

Naturally, the game boasts updated content to reflect the 2011 season.

That means a new track to play with in the shape of India. As last year with South Korea, the developers have had to model the game based on expectations of how the Buddh International Circuit will look, as the game will come out before the inaugural Indian Grand Prix takes place.

The German Grand Prix sees the Hockenheimring swapped for the Nurburgring, and of course there’s no longer a Bahrain Grand Prix.

The teams and drivers are updated – those keeping score in the ‘Lotus vs Lotus’ war will note Renault and Lotus are referred to as “Lotus Renault GP” and “Team Lotus” respectively.

As last year, the data is based on the start of the season. So the McLarens sport their distinctively bright early-season rear floor, and don’t expect appearances from Pedro de la Rosa or Daniel Ricciardo.

KERS and DRS

F1 2011 by Codemasters

F1 2011 by Codemasters

The new rules for 2011 have been faithfully recreated too. You get limited KERS boosts and DRS use is also true to life: it’s unavailable in the first two laps of the race and only available for use when you’re close enough to another car.

However it’s never been as difficult to overtake in an F1 game as it is in real life, and while playing I seldom had the opportunity to use DRS in a race situation.

Lee Mather, chief car handling designer, said the DRS has been modelled closely on real life, including the ‘forbidden zone’ in the tunnel at Monaco:

“It’s authentic, we do it correctly. There’s a DRS activation zones, we have them marked one the circuit. In some instances we have boards at the side of the circuit as they do on certain tracks. We do it exactly as it is.

“For the circuits that haven’t been announced we make a very educated guess.”

“Things like KERS and DRS are incredible for a racing game because they lend themselves towards a game incredibly well,” he added.

Multiplayer

F1 2011 by Codemasters

F1 2011 by Codemasters

The developers are keen to stress that the game is more than just an update of the content from F1 2010. One of the main areas they’re focussed on this year is multiplayer.

The addition of an offline multiplayer mode, where two players can race each other on one console with a split screen, will surely please the many people who asked for the feature last year.

Online players can now race a full grid of 24 cars of which up to 16 can be player-controlled, the rest run by the computer.

But the most interesting and original aspect of the multiplayer mode is the new co-operative championship, where two people can play through the game together. This should add much greater depth to the experience than the usual online crash-fests.

What’s in, what’s out

F1 2011 by Codemasters

F1 2011 by Codemasters

At Wednesday’s press event the developers faced the usual barrage of questions about what’s in and what’s not in the game.

Those hoping for the introduction of the safety car are to be disappointed. It’s clear from talking to the developers they feel players would only enjoy following the safety car briefly before getting tired of it and choosing to skip the interruption.

Mather told me: “The safety car is one of those things we’ve been asked about a lot.”

“If we can get a safety car in the game which we feel enhances the experience, we’ll have the safety car in the game. If we can’t, if it takes away from the enjoyment of the game, then we won’t have a safety car.”

Red-flag scenarios are also not modelled, and nor is there a pre-race formation lap. There won’t be any download-able content for the game either.

However the team have addressed some of the criticisms of the previous game, starting with the use of sector times during qualifying laps for that authentic, high-pressure hot-lap experience.

Seeing the whole race

In F1 2010, the inability for players to scroll through rival cars in replay mode to see how their race was progressing led to speculation that the races were being ‘faked’.

This feature will not be in F1 2011 either. Mather said: “You still can’t scroll between the cars, but you can see their progress. The ability to swap between the cars is still, technically, very difficult to do.”

However the developers say they understand the complaint and have made other changes to allow players to better appreciate the race going on around them:

“It’s something we’ve given a lot of consideration because we felt exactly the same way about it,” says Mather.

“Obviously in Formula 1 you can be out on your own, completely in the lead, it’s your race to win. But there’s somebody behind on a different strategy and in the end he bumps you down to third or fourth.

“There’s a couple of things we’ve added to help that. The race engineer is now present in online races, so he will be able to update you. Let’s say for example you’re doing good pace, the engineer will come on and say your race pace is good so you’ll know you don’t have to push any harder, and you’ll know that when the pit stops and everything play out you’ll be in a strong final position.

“We’ve also added additional element to the on-screen display. Previously you had a spot that showed you temperatures and damage. There’s now an additional one which shows you an idea of how much fuel you’ve got beyond and below the optimal points, and also the projected rejoining position should you pit.”

He adds they didn’t include a list of positions for all drivers because of a lack of screen space. However, players can now pause the game and access data on the drivers positions, pit stops and major events that have happened during the race.

Handling

F1 2011 by Codemasters

F1 2011 by Codemasters

The switch to Pirelli tyres has meant significant changes to how the cars handle.

This opens up the opportunity for more varied tyre strategies, as Mather explains: “We’ve run quite a lot of long races while testing the tyre durations out.

“We’ve finished within a second of each other after starting on different compounds. Steve [Hood, chief game designer] won a race at Spa running on a one-stop strategy while I ran two or three. He just wanted to try it out to see if it was possible. At one point in the race he was significantly slower than we were, we were taking seconds out of him on every lap.”

I took the opportunity to get a first-hand feel of how the cars handle in F1 2011. They feel more challenging to drive – twitchier, and more likely to catch you out if you get too greedy with the throttle on corner exit. Unless you’ve got all the driver aids switched on, of course.

The variation in their performance between different types of tyre compound is much more noticeable – unfortunately I didn’t have time to get much of a feel for how long the tyres last.

Some of the improvements made to the handling are left over from developments that were planned for F1 2010 but never made it, as Mather explains:

“We were working on an improved suspension model. Unfortunately due to some other technical difficulties we couldn’t get it fully implemented.”

They settled on a compromise solution for the first game: “It was very good, but it wasn’t quite where we could get to.”

The new model is implemented in F1 2011: “It makes a big difference to the feel of the cars. It allowed us to start with a clean sheet on cars set-ups.

“It gives the feeling of a car that’s in contact with the track surface. That was one of the biggest things we really wanted to gain – the feel.”

Graphics

F1 2011 by Codemasters

F1 2011 by Codemasters

Aside from the inevitable updates, the tracks have been enhanced with further details.

This seemed to have a consequence for frame rates in the game, which appeared to stutter when many cars were visible at once, but I’ll reserve judgement on that until I’ve played the finished version.

The garages and paddock have been the focus of considerable work and can now be viewed in much greater detail than before.

The level of detail extends to the cars, where players will now see differences between the steering wheels authentically replicated. This is especially important, as your virtual drivers’ hands will be busy flicking the gear lever and jabbing the KERS and DRS buttons.

We were shown side-by-side comparisons of the new and old versions of the game, which demonstrated the finer details very well. Unfortunately they cannot be shared here because Formula One Management have not signed off the graphics used for public release.

The finished product

It was clear from the mixed public reaction to last year’s game that many have strong opinions about what features should be included. Mather explains: “The way we have to look at it is we want to take as much as we can from Formula 1 and make the game as close as we can to that.

“But not at the penalty of taking away the enjoyment of playing it.

Codemasters had dozens of machines running the latest build of F1 2011, described as a “beta” version which still had “two months’ polishing” left to do.

From the half-dozen chances I had to play it’s clear there is plenty of work to be done on elements such as crash damage, graphical glitches and bug fixes – the latter a significant source of frustration for early buyers of the first game.

F1 2011 will be released on September 23rd for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Handheld console versions will appear later. F1 Fanatic will have a full review of the version for major consoles.

Buy / pre-order F1 2011 for Sony PlayStation 3
Buy / pre-order F1 2011 for Microsoft Xbox 360

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136 comments on F1 2011 – Codemasters’ F1 sequel played

  1. jochenrindt said on 8th July 2011, 11:16

    If you are really interested in F1 particularly PC, then R-factor is way better than the codemasters efforts, added to that R-Factor 2 will soon be released bringing the title bang up to date. The problems with the codemasters release IMO are as follows, the physics are too easy & unrealistic, the standard codemasters menus as seen in games like dirt/dirt 2 I find particularly annoying and with quite long load times. The biggest thing for me is the games in terms of Livery and smaller details are always out of date by the time they are released. With R-Factor & soon RF2 you are able to download and crucially update user made mods as the season progresses. I really enjoy driving the tracks in the correct cars as they happen, looking forward to having a go on silverstone (2011 layout) with a 2011 mod – although not completely perfect the cars are updated along with the mods & tracks as things change. I have been playing this way since about 2007 and most years a decent mod is out in time for the first race of the season, this is then updated along the way often taking into account details like driver changes, helmet designs (no-one can keep track of vettels!) and innovations in the design of the car. R-factor is a brilliant game that is not limited by the software house that produces it, it also allows you to install mods of any motor sport discipline, for examples of the qulaity available have a search for F1RFT 2010, 2011 mods, some mods are better than others but you have options and can pick and choose the ones you like best. It is incredibly satisfying when for example schumacher was rumoured to return to F1 with ferrari a user had produced a patch to put his helmet in the game about 20 mins after it was annouced. Codemasters is great if you have a console, but R-factor on PC is better for F1 fans in general and will always be more up to date & flexible than pre-released games, there is a safety car, DRS will soon be incorperated along with Kers. If you love F1 and are keen on the details being right R-factor / R Factor 2 is the best package – Check it out!

    • Eastman (@eastman) said on 8th July 2011, 12:08

      This is all well and good if you have oodles of time to be downloading tons and tons of mods. I don’t.

      I want to pop the disc into my console and play. Call me arcadey if you want, but to get through seven seasons, I don’t have time to be downloading the latest handling package.

    • Neil said on 8th July 2011, 12:22

      rFactor is good, and i played it for years, but the vast majority of mods out there, like RFT etc, are **** poor, they are made by rank amatures (no disrespect), as well as the vast majority of circuits.

      The other downside of having the community create these mods is not only the lack of accuracy, but its practically impossible to race online with the amount of file mis-matches.

      As another poster said, if anyones interested in a geniune sim, they should try iRacing.

    • Tom said on 8th July 2011, 13:14

      It always amazes me that people that have absolutely no interest in the F1 games can spend so much time and effort on bashing them.

      I assure you, no one is impressed that you play a “hardcore” racing simulator. F1 2010 & 2011 are not meant to be like rfactor, so why even compare them?

    • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 8th July 2011, 14:52

      Single Player isn’t worth much though. I’m not that much into online racing myself, and rFactor is very disappointing in respect to offline racing (apart from doing hotlaps on your own).

      I feel modders have done a decent enough job at modifying F1 2010 where possible. Sure it’s not the same as having the freedom to change models and all of that, but I think games like F1 2010/11 and rFactor (2) try to appeal to different audiences. It’s one thing to be interested in the technical aspects of F1, it’s another thing to finetune everything yourself for hours in a row before you can fly through Eau Rouge.

      • Mike said on 8th July 2011, 15:28

        rFactor is very disappointing in respect to offline racing

        I would disagree completely, It obviously depends greatly on the circumstance you play it in but I have had many great single player races against the AI.

        I think both games have a place in gaming and both are great games, they offer something different for sure. But to me, it kinda seems like the people that bash one or the other for the most part are missing out.

        F12010 really felt like F1. That’s something that’s hard to get, and it is clearly for me a huge reason to stick with Codemasters, despite their problems.

        • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 8th July 2011, 19:50

          Then perhaps I have been playing the wrong mods. Nonetheless, the overall SP experience is quite different than F1 2010 was. Like you say, it really felt like F1.

    • dave said on 8th August 2011, 19:31

      rfactor was designed on the ea engine? i presume so as it was left with the same qualifying dificulties when the format changed. hope rfactor 2 has built its own engine.
      rfactor is a great game for loners or people with all day on their side to update stuff. apart from that its a community splitter as not many use the same version. i was really let down with f1 2010 after waiting 8 years for a new f1 engine. i hope f1 2011 delivers im getting very itchy indeed now cant wait as i quit f12010 after couple of weeks because of the frustration of things especially the slow down that happened on some of the tracks. forget replay camera switching and safty car i live without that if u deliver what 2010 should have been.

  2. Doance (@doance) said on 8th July 2011, 11:17

    I hope they have more and better camera angles. The camera’s for replays in F1 2010 are crap. And more realisitc crashes.
    And more realistic crowds. At Albert Park on F1 2010, the track is completely deserted, when in real life there are crowds all the way around.

  3. beneboy (@beneboy) said on 8th July 2011, 11:25

    I thought F1

  4. Dan Selby said on 8th July 2011, 11:25

    Yeh I regularly play rFactor mate. I actually build tracks for it.

    I have the Xbox steering wheel set up, but unfortunately have no force feedback on rFactor (can that be set up?).

    I also have the 2011 cars, but the textures are quite ropey.

    Also, they don’t have KERS or DRS. Until I can find a nice easy method of using them, then I settle for the console versions! :)

    • jochenrindt said on 8th July 2011, 11:54

      download realfeel force feedback for r-factor – it’s perfect!

      kers is available!

      DRS will be out soon!

      enjoy

  5. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 8th July 2011, 11:34

    Great article Keith. A lot of interesting information. First of all, I’m not even slightly bothered that there’ll be no safety-car. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of reward – and there’s many things I’d rather they concentrated on.

    “You still can’t scroll between the cars, but you can see their progress. The ability to swap between the cars is still, technically, very difficult to do.”

    I really can’t understand this. Do Codemasters do something so drastically different compared to other game developers, such as Polyphony Digital that causes such difficulties? If you can’t scroll between cars during sessions; fair enough. But if you can’t do it in the replays, there’s something very wrong. With the Collantine Cup, it would have been extremely interesting to go back and view the race from the perspectives of different players. Gran Turismo 5 manages this without any problems whatsoever, for both online and offline races. Basically, the replay options need to be worked on, because the lack of a decent replay system really detracted from F1 2010.

    The crash damage doesn’t sound too promising, either. Even if the damage model isn’t improved, something needs to be done about the way cars interact with the environment off the track. Hitting walls in F1 2010 was very comical and it actually took an enormous hit to dislodge a wheel. Moreover, the cars wouldn’t bounce off the walls in a realistic way when you grazed them. Instead, they’d stop you dead like you’d gone head-first into a brick wall, destroying the car. I really hope they’ve addressed these issues by its release.

    This seemed to have a consequence for frame rates in the game, which appeared to stutter when many cars were visible at once

    That’s a great shame. This is another thing I don’t understand. Sorry to use this as an example again, but GT5 manages to run at what appears to be 50FPS (if not more) at all times, whilst displaying considerably more detail. It’s the same with split-screen. They reasoned that it would be hard to implement because it would stress the graphics and cause drops in FPS. But once again, you only have to look as far as GT5 to see how effortlessly the feature has been implemented. I’m not sure if it comes down to budget/resources, but having played GT5 for 6 months, I find it difficult to believe all of the excuses.

    As for online multiplayer, I’m so very glad they’ve paid close attention to the fans and increased the grid to 16 playable cars. This is going to be a lot of fun for the next Collantine Cup season! Another thing I think would be interesting is if you could take the co-operative career one step further, and race against other teams of players from around the world. Sounds difficult, but I’m sure it would be interesting if you organised a season with a bunch of people on the forum and we all agreed to a meet-up time on weekends. It would be fun to work through an entire season not just with your friends, but against them too!

    Finally, I’m really hoping they’ve put more effort into the mid-season upgrades. I for one don’t want to be running around at Silverstone in the Virgin sporting this ugly nose-cone seen at the first few races (because I love the new nose!).

    Regardless, it looks like they’ve made significant improvements, and I eagerly await further news on its development. Still, I’m afraid I’ve learnt not to hype it up too much this time, and as a result, I’m not as excited as I was for F1 2010. But I still can’t wait!

    • TrueF1Grit (@truef1grit) said on 8th July 2011, 11:41

      You have to remember when making reference to GT5 how long they had to make the game, Codemasters have less than a year, if they run over that the game would be outdated and far less people would buy it.

      • Dave_CBL said on 8th July 2011, 12:56

        not necisarily true.

        f1 2011 will use the same game engine as f1 2010 and will basically be an evolution of the f1 2010 code rather than something written completely from scratch.

        its actually something which is not that hard or time consuming to code into a game as its basically just changing the focus car from your’s to the ai.

        its actually so easy to do that im amazed codemasters have never introduced it into any of there games.

    • Stephen Jones (@aus_steve) said on 8th July 2011, 13:36

      nice article you’ve written damon.. =P

      with GT5 they set the game to run at a constant 60FPS, and they struggled for ages to achieve that. The “jaggies” are some of the side-effects of that.

      other than that, looks promising.. can’t wait to line up with the originals, and another 6 rookies to race the Collantine Cup again! the cup’s mine this year!

  6. Phil said on 8th July 2011, 11:37

    Let’s hope the AI is half decent this time. Loads of overtake chances that aren’t taken because the AI seems to stick rigidly to the racing line.

  7. Benson Mutton said on 8th July 2011, 11:41

    Marvelous. I havent stopped playing this since i got it.
    Lets hope all the “glitches” will be sorted for this one.

  8. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 8th July 2011, 11:46

    Ahh yes! I was going to ask when more was going to surface about this, and when you think about it, September 23rd really isn’t far away.

  9. Mads (@mads) said on 8th July 2011, 12:03

    I would also like random incidents. So in a session your car has a problem and you can’t leave the pit until the very last moment, or you have to sit it all out. And mechanical problems in the race, not engine failure and you are out, but a loss of power, or a sudden front wing failure, loss of third gear, or stuck in gear etc. So you can continue, while making it a lot harder to remain position. And then let you choose what the design team builds on your car, if they focus on speed in the race, speed in qualifying, driveability or reliability.

    • Harry Palmer said on 8th July 2011, 12:08

      The devs said in an interview on insidesimracing recently that there will be mechanical failures…

  10. box this lap said on 8th July 2011, 13:39

    Just like someone here said before. If you tell me this is the game F1 2010 with the car skins from this season I believe you.

    Codemasters are using the same old dusty EGO Engine once again, Money milk cows galore.

    I would be better if the build one game and upgrade it with DLC’s troughout the season. I bet the Lotus cars don’t have the Caterham logo’s in the game for instance…

    • Lee said on 8th July 2011, 14:09

      This is standard practice in the games industry particularly as the whole point of a modular game engine is so that it can be reused. Just like car manufacturers make many cars based on the same chasis.

      However just because the engine is the same does not mean the game is the same, the engine is only part of the code, after all you would hardly say F1 2010 and Dirt 3 are the same game would you?

      Also as Dirt 3 is one of the best looking race games on the consoles I would not really say the EGO engine is old and dusty, after all it is only a year old…

      • box this lap said on 8th July 2011, 16:36

        I know the engine is a part of the game. There are even first person games build on the EGO engine. The first game made with the EGO engine (Colin McRea Dirt) was released back in 2007. Ok this runs on EGO 2.0 en DiRT on EGO 1.0 but it’s nearly the same to me.

        And ok DiRT 3 looks good on the consoles but GT5 looks better and they both were the same price when they were released, that is my problem. I also think that F1 2011 is delaying a possible Race Driver GRID 2 release, that’s the reason why I don’t like F1 2011 that much.

        In my opinion Codemasters thought:

        “Here you have F1 2011 because the season is underway and we need to release this now, only 10 of the 20 ideas we had for this game made it in F1 2011. F1 2012 is also released next year so we have to hurry!”

        • Lee said on 9th July 2011, 11:16

          But GT5 is the same old boring crap while Dirt3 is fun and enjoyable…

          Plus ego 1.0 and 1.5 may be the same to you but they are probably very different to the coders and game designers!

          Games are often released on a schedule determined by licence holders and publishers so it is not always the developers fault for a rushed release. However look at GT5 took years and years along with delay on top of delay and it is still dull!

    • Torg said on 8th July 2011, 14:34

      You need to do some more research on f1 2011 before moaning about it. From what ive read so far its a completely new experiance altogether, esspecially the handling physics. As for the Catherham logo? Who cares, i mean is that your main worry? Will this really alter your enjoyment of the game when hurtling around at 180mph??

      • box this lap said on 8th July 2011, 16:45

        From what ive read so far its a completely new experience* altogether, especially* the handling physics.

        That’s just standard cheap marketing talk. Did you play the game to know if they are right?

        As for the Caterham logo, yes it does alter my enjoyment. for instance if Alonso is unable to race in Abu Dhabi this year, then I’m still racing with Alonso in Abu Dhabi in the game. I don’t like that, but this is the main problem with this games. That the reason I rather spend my money on a complete new gaming experience then on a F1 2010 2.0 experience.

        • Torg said on 9th July 2011, 14:14

          Very strange, your expecting to much from a game. After all it is still only a game and not real life. I couldnt care less if i was still racing with Alonso at Abu Dhabi even if he wasnt racing in real life as im more intersted in the racing aspect of the game while behind the wheel. But thats just me.

          I read a review from some bloke that was at the westfield event. I dont think it was a biased view as he didnt work for codemaster. He gave it plenty of praise and stated it was a lot better in more ways than 1 over the 2010 game.

  11. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 8th July 2011, 13:51

    Any chance of it coming out on the new Wii U?? I’m waiting for a more modern F1 game than F1 ’09, which seems eons ago..

    • Lee said on 8th July 2011, 14:12

      Well as the Wii U does not even have a solid release date and it is 2012 at the earliest, I doubt F1 2011 will be appearing on it. Anyway what on earth are you wanting to play anything on the Wii other than Donkey Kong Country Returns for!

  12. DaveW said on 8th July 2011, 14:48

    I’ll be interested to see really if KERS and DRS adds anything. It seems like it will be just an annoyance. What buttons are you going to use on the controller or wheel anyway? All are taken now and I don’t even have a button remaining to “look right” into my mirrors.

    • Tom said on 8th July 2011, 16:40

      You use one of the control sticks to look around; not buttons.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th July 2011, 0:33

      I found I got used to KERS very quickly. DRS, as I said, I had little chance to use properly.

      I played using a standard Xbox controller and a steering wheel. It was very easy to use them on the Xbox controller. I didn’t like the way the steering wheel was set up but of course that will be user-controllable.

  13. harshatiyya (@harshatiyya) said on 8th July 2011, 15:53

    thank you keith.. waiting for this game. :)

  14. brendan said on 8th July 2011, 16:34

    ‘The ability to swap between the cars is still, technically, very difficult to do.”’

    why when r factor did which was basically a modified f1 99-03.

  15. Hammer Time said on 8th July 2011, 16:56

    Reading through some of the other comments on this article made me laugh: like Cab drivers arguing over which is the optimal route! Anyone would think some of you were Fernando Alonso the way you moan and bleat about the shortcomings of the previous game.

    I loved the F12010 game. I completed it on Xbox. Yes,
    I am shamelessly arcadey. I wouldn’t much care if the liveries are out of date and I won’t miss a safety car. As long as I can race with my mates online, and the unrealistic handling is patched, I will be happy.

    If you think youve got game, add me on Xbox: ‘Mother Goose 07′: see if you can teach me a thing or two! :-)

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