Ever listen to The State of Gaming Podcast? It’s fantastic! There’s two great hosts that make great shows together, including discussing the periodic NPD sales numbers. One thing that tends to come up during those discussions is the omnipresence of sports games on the charts. Neither of our hosts play many of those and they’ll state as much…but they’ll also recognize the importance of the genre when it comes to gaming as a whole.
As one of those hosts, sometimes I think it’s important to try something new, especially when that “something” tends to lead the industry in terms of graphics and monetization. That’s why we’re going to take a look at Codemasters’ F1 2021 on the PS5. Don’t expect much from my driving skills, though, I can barely handle a soccer-mom Volvo.
This is a driving game! Specifically, it’s focused on Formula One racing, which uses ultra-fast formula racing cars. This ends up being a significantly different form of driving than something like Codemasters’ other hard-hitting racing property DIRT, allowing for some diversity in your racing sims. Formula racers are astoundingly speedy and it’ll probably take some time to get used to taking turns while piloting what amounts to a rocket on wheels, but once you’ve gotten the hang of things F1’s pretty rewarding.
There’s a fair number of cars as well as loads of ways to tweak those cars. The degree to which you can customize your experience is pretty staggering, really, and newbies should appreciate the usual suite of assistance features. You’re allowed to steadily dip your toes into the sport rather than being thrown in face-first. There’s still bound to be the odd horrifying crash here and there, but some time spent in the Practice mode should eventually allow you to take the training wheels off.
How are we going to organize all this driving into a game, though? Well, first, and perhaps most notably, you’ve got a story mode! I don’t tend to play a lot of sports games so it’s somewhat passed me by that these are commonplace in the genre now; I was pretty impressed with Braking Point as a result. We follow drivers Aiden Jackson and Casper Akkerman as they go on racing adventures under varying conditions and rise up the ranks.
I’ve seen people complain about the acting in this mode. Honestly, that kind of reassures me that we’re in a golden age of gaming, since we’re able to relax and concern ourselves with the quality of the story mode in a racing game. Milk and honey for everyone! For the record, it’s not going to win any Oscars, but it’s not the worst.
Outside of Braking Point, there’s a fair amount of other modes to check out. Aside from the standard offerings like a straightforward career mode, My Team allows you to manage an entire F1 team, with a shocking amount of depth including car research. There’s also a pretty interesting suite of multiplayer options, including allowing a friend to join you for the entirety of a career playthrough.
Think of it as something like Divinity: Original Sin, except instead of wizards you’re racecar drivers and instead of casting magic missiles at goblins you’re desperately trying not to go flying off the track into the crowd.
You can even line up your game with the actual F1 season, which didn’t mean much to me but is bound to mean a lot to fans of the sport. As a fully licensed title F1 2021 absolutely oozes fanservice, in fact, with F1 personalities all over the place and a real dedication to creating an authentic experience.
We’re talking specifically about the PS5 version of F1 2021 here, so it should come as no surprise that the graphics are top notch. Likewise, everything sounds just about as great as you’d expect, so all the vrooms are vrooms, the screeches are screeches and so on. Moreover, this game’s got haptic triggers! Something about haptics just makes a game feel “next-gen” like no amount of graphical splendor or ray-tracing can; they’re related to the acceleration and deceleration of the car here, which ends up feeling a bit like the driving in Destruction AllStars. It’s very cool and makes this the preferred console version of F1 2021.
I’m certainly not the authority when it comes to racing games – we might want to look for our erstwhile Popzara driving aficionado Herman Exum for that – but I had a good enough time with F1 2021. A “good enough time” for someone who’s not familiar with the sport and really didn’t have a lot of interest before playing the game says a lot. It’s likely that F1 fans are going to absolutely love this one. For everyone else (everyone else with some interest in racing, at least) Braking Point is a surprise hit and definitely worth a look once the game drops in price a bit.