Xbox One – 2020
F1 2020 is Codemasters latest entry in their Formula One sim series. This entry is unique as it doesn’t follow the actual 2020 series but rather what the calendar was supposed to be. The game features 10 cars and 20 drivers as well as a host of classic cars to pick from. It has 22 tracks, the largest in the series, and includes the new Hanoi and Zandvoort circuits. As usual, the presentation is incredible, with each track mirroring its real life counter-part. The 2020 cars look great, especially the black Mercedes that has now been patched in. I did find the classic car designs to have some texture issues though. The game also sees the return of F2. In Driver Career mode, you can choose to start your career in F2 or dive straight in to F1. The career mode also has a wealth of customisable options. You can change the season length, the qualifying format and turn on any assists you might need. You can earn resource points in practice to help improve your car. While not a new feature, it’s nice to see them return as they give a bit more importance to the practice sessions. The biggest new feature is My Team. Here you’ll create your own team, sign a teammate and engine supplier, then battle your way to the top of the grid. There are four engine suppliers to chose from, each with their own stats and price. You’ll choose your team-mate from a list of random F2 drivers. You can sign another driver halfway through the season but be prepared to enter a bidding war for their signature. You won’t start out a world beater, but by investing in your different departments you’ll build a car to get there. The game also introduces Pit Coins. These can be earned through the game or by purchasing them with real money. While I’m not a fan of micro-transactions, these are only used to unlock cosmetic items such as liveries or helmets. The game controls incredibly well, with each car having their own strengths and weaknesses. I spent a lot of time in My Team and when I started I did notice some over-steer but by investing in parts, the car became a lot better. A great racing sim that I’d recommend for any F1 fan.
Yakuza 3 (Yakuza Remastered Collection)
PlayStation 4 – 2019
First off, it should be remembered that Yakuza 3 is a remaster and not a remake like the two Kiwami games. It would be easy to point out the texture differences between this and the previous three games I’ve played in the series but it wouldn’t be a fair comparison considering this would technically be the oldest one I’ve played to date. However, as a standalone game, it does have some flaws. The story is excellent but it’s pacing can feel off. This is especially prevalent in the early chapters as the game jumps from the past to the present. Most of the new characters are well done but some aren’t really fleshed out. This comes from a mixture of how important they are and the way the story is presented. The side missions in this entry range from fun quests that expand upon the story, to annoying quests that I just wanted to get out of the way. An example of these are the side missions hidden behind the mini-games. They can sometimes require high scores to unlock them and the controls in the mini-games aren’t the best (cough, bowling, cough). The inventory is small and is shared between your items and your equipment. This can be an issue as even equipped items still take up space and if you want to have a weapon and armour in every slot, that’s six space in your inventory gone. The combat ranges from fun and fluid to frustrating. There were times when the combat felt close to Yakuza 0 or Kiwami, exciting and easy to maneuver, but more often it felt sluggish. Enemies will often block and this drags out battles as you try to break their block. They’ll even block in the middle of your combo. Some enemies won’t be staggered, so they’ll absorb your blows before unloading on you. Then there are enemies that are smaller than Kiryu and these can sometimes be a pain to hit or grapple. I think the Kanda boss fight is a perfect example of these flaws. He absorbs your blows, he can enter “heat mode” every so often and he picks up items that he swings with a wide radius, making it difficult to dodge. The game does have some great features though. The new location of Ryukyu is a nice addition. The map may be small but it has a unique charm that contrasts well to the grittier Kamurocho. The plot, once it gets going, is definitely one of the stronger in the series, and the character side mission are well presented and help to flesh out the supporting cast a bit more.