So I downloaded the demo and expected very little given how much criticism I’ve seen, which has probably affected my judgement to a degree. I’ve completed day 1 of the young drivers’ test (you have to) and two races in the “career” mode at Monza. I basically spent the whole time trying to work out whether I liked the feel of the game or not and the first thing I noticed is the braking. You now have to floor the brake pedal straight away and ease the pressure as the car slows. This feels much different to the 2011 game and on top of that, you’ll need to leave yourself an extra 50 metres or so now. After a few corners you get the idea though and it’s not much trouble.
I am absolutely delighted with one thing in particular with this game, and that is the heightened responsiveness to wheel inputs. It’s extremely satisfying to be turning the wheel at the corner rather than guessing how far before the corner you have to start turning the corner. This will also help us avoid incidents as the game responds not much slower than our own reflexes. But then again, it probably varies between different TVs and of course wheels.
For example, in this video, you can see how quickly I am able to counter the slide (when I turn the wheel to the right as I head into the gravel) and that the car has only just started to step away when I’m already correcting it. Of course, I failed to control it in this case, but I was more satisfied with the feel of how it unfolded rather than angry at the fact it had ruined my race!
So as far as handling, there are a few differences apart from the brakes. The first thing I noticed is that the cars feel much “lighter” in the game. It’s less clumsy and more nimble. But that also poses a problem. You’ve got to be concentrating at all times, because the car seems to drift across the track when you’re trying to go straight at times.* I’m not sure if this is something I’ll get used to or if it will cause problems when we’re racing wheel-to-wheel. But overall, I think I prefer the feel of driving in this game. I’m very pleased with being able to turn when I want to, but I’m yet to get the hang of not turning in early for every corner as a result of this!
The AI, even on the hardest difficulty, provides you with little challenge (but apparently it will be much tougher in the finished game), but their behaviour is almost life-like. For example, Fernando Alonso is completely ruthless and blatantly squeezed me off the track at the Curva Grande. True to life, he didn’t even get a penalty for it.
(*You can see this happening in the video below as the car seems to drift to the right after the move is done despite the fact the wheel is straight and even pointing slightly left)
It’s not an amazing game, and if it weren’t for this bloody cup, I probably wouldn’t get it, but I do think we could have a lot of fun with it yet.