Xbox 360 – 2010
F1 2010 was Codemasters’ second attempt at an F1 sim, following the Wii and PSP F1 2009. It was also the first F1 sim to be released on the Xbox 360. The game came out late in the 2010 season and as a result, the cars and drivers mirror their real life performances in the season. The game comes with one of the largest grids at 24 drivers and has 19 unique tracks to race around. Visually, the game looks stunning, even today. The cars looks fantastic and small details such as car damage and tyre wear are noticeable. The engines sound great and you’ll have a race engineer who will communicate to you throughout the race, relaying important information such as when to pit, how far the car behind or in front of you is and when a rival pits. There is no commentary and the TV style presentation is non-existent. You won’t get a run down of the grid at the start of a race, just the pole sitter, your position and your team-mates. There are also no podium celebrations, instead you’ll have an interview. After a while, the questions begin to repeat themselves. The main menu is more like an interactive paddock where you can choose Online, Time Trials, Grand Prix or Career. Career is where you’ll spend most of the game as it’s designed around it. When you first start the game, you’ll be asked how long of a career you want. This will determine your career objective and what cars are available to choose from. There is no driver tests, just pick a team and away you go. You’ll be able to change some of the settings before a race, from drivers assists, to race length and weekend type. Long weekend has you play the full three Practice sessions, three Qualifying sessions and the Race, while short weekend just has one of each. Driver assists such as ABS, racing line and Pit Limiter are all useful for starting out but avoid Braking Assist, it will hamper your experience. In career mode, you’ll earn reputation, that will help you get offers from bigger teams. After a certain point, you’ll be asked to pick a rival. Beat them and their team will offer you a seat. The reputation points are a good idea but they feel slow to build up, especially if you’re over performing with a poor team. Car setups return and are important in order to achieve good results. There is a large community to help if you’re not too confident in experimenting. As you continue through the season, you will get challenges in Practice to complete that can improve your car or unlock new settings in Car Setup. If you’re the first team driver, you can dictate how much you want to push for improvements. In terms of driving, the cars feel great for the most part. Braking will take a little time to get used to as it’s very easy to either lock your brakes or miss the braking point. The game does have a feature called “Flashbacks” where you can go back a few seconds and try again. You can select up to four “Flashbacks” before the start of the weekend. One major flaw I had was that the game would freeze for a few seconds while driving. This had a huge impact, especially if it happened on a corner. It felt like it occurred every second race. Overall, a great early entry to Codemasters’ F1 journey, even if it was lacking some expected features.
Formula One 06
PlayStation 2 – 2006
Studio Liverpool’s last Formula One entry was released in July 2006. It featured the 11 teams and 22 drivers that started the season, including new teams Toro Rosso, Super Aguri and Midland F1. It features 18 tracks, with Spa-Francorchamps missing from the 05 edition. Playing the three games back to back, it becomes harder to point out differences as you go along. Formula One 06 really does feel like a reskin of Formula One 05 with some very minor tweaks. The car liveries and driver line-ups are updated, as you’d expect. The game features more TV-style presentations, with commentary appearing in game, as well as the option to take part in the parade lap. Pit stops are also more interactive but this is mainly because you have to change tyres this year whereas tyre changes were banned in the 2005 season. Tyre condition does play a bigger role as a result, so it’s important to keep an eye on them. The race engineer is a lot more talkative this time, which is great at first but he never tells you who’s retired, can sometimes forget to tell you when to pit and a lot of information he could relay is done through the commentary, which feels redundant at times (how many laps in succession are they going to tell me the top 8 positions). The menus have received a slight upgrade, looking marginally better than the previous game. The race hud looks a lot better, is neater and displays all the important information you need. The game’s classic cars are unlocked from the start and there is no bonus track like Formula One 05. The same game modes from 05 return. Career mode sees you once again creating a character (you can edit their helmet again) and start out by testing for one of the three new teams. From there, you can move through the grid. One thing that is odd is that bigger teams advertise roles early but you won’t get them as you won’t have enough race experience and since other drivers don’t move, what is the point. Another thing is that better teams will offer you Test Driver positions no matter how far ahead in the standings you are in the first season. It’s an odd complaint but the previous games took into account if you were winning the Championship. This led to a rather odd end of the season where I had a massive lead in the standings, became Renault’s Test Driver before the end of the season, didn’t race the final few races, got let go because my test results weren’t great but still won the Driver’s Championship. In terms of the tests, they’re a lot more involved than the others but not being able to change your tyres when the weather changes is definitely an oversight. In terms of gameplay, it feels slightly better than Formula One 05 but the difference is marginal and can often come down to the car you’re driving. I think it’s the best of the three PlayStation 2 games I played but the differences between 05 and 06 are so small that either one will more than pass the time. In the end, it gets a 4/5 because of the foundation Formula One 05 put in but its lack of innovation does hamper it slightly.
Formula One 05
PlayStation 2 – 2005
Studio Liverpool returns with an updated F1 sim, featuring 19 tracks, 10 cars and 20 drivers of the 2005 season. Similar to its predecessor, it only features those that started the season. The game is more evolution than revolution but those small changes help to improve the game. The cars and tracks look great, including the new Istanbul circuit. The control scheme is very similar to last year’s, with you being able to use either the buttons or right stick to accelerate and break. Break bias and traction control toggles still exist but oddly they’re not on the default controller layout. The game once again sounds great, full of engine noises and tyre screeches. There is supposedly a pit crew who communicates with you (I know this because it has a volume setting) but throughout my play through I never heard from them. The game features a selection of game modes, from Race Weekend, World Championship, Career and even Online play but I’d imagine that mode is now defunct. The game comes with Driving Aids, such as Steering Assist, Braking Assist and a Racing Line, which are great for starting out but I wouldn’t recommend leaving them on. You can change them in the main menu or in the pause screen while driving. The menu’s look tidier and no where is this more noticeable than in the Career mode. Career mode has also seen improvements. It now has a difficulty option, fuel and tyre wear settings (both of which can’t be changed after starting), race length and rolling starts. These are small changes but they make a difference. For example, rolling starts mean you don’t have to drive the out lap for a Qualification Lap. Car setup also returns and is necessary on higher difficulty levels but with Easy mode, you can just dive in. Driver customisation is more or less the same with one exception, you can no longer pick your helmet. Instead, you unlock a new one after every 30 points you get and can’t go back to an older one, which is a pity. You start Career mode by test driving for one of three teams and you can even be offered a First Driver contract if you’re good enough. For switching teams, you have to apply for roles when they open up, which is great as it meant Minardi and Jordan weren’t spamming my inbox with contracts despite me leading the Driver’s Championship. One other little feature the game added was interactive pit stops. They’re only quick time events but get them down and you can improve your chances of winning. Race presentation has also been improved, with the game showing the Grid Layout before a race. Overall, the little changes really made the difference.
Formula One 04
PlayStation 2 – 2004
Studio Liverpool’s racing simulator is based on the 2004 Formula One season. You can race as any of the 10 teams or 22 drivers that started the season across 18 tracks. The game has three core modes: Arcade, Simulation and Career. Arcade and Simulation see you choose one of the 22 drivers as you take on race weekends, a full season, time attack or time trials. Career has you create your own racer and compete across 5 seasons to win the Formula One World Drivers Championship. The cars and tracks all look fantastic, even now. The sounds are what you’d expect, lots and lots of engine noises. There is no commentary in this game, instead you will have a race engineer relay important information to you. There are some customisable options, from rules to damage and even fuel usage. Rules and damage seem strange. You can take shortcuts if you don’t overtake a car but pass another driver, even a back-marker, off the track and you will be penalized. The cars are more robust than later entries, which is a good thing because the AI will aggressively defend its racing line or try to overtake, ramming you to one side. Control wise, the game has an interesting concept. You can use X to accelerate or use the right analogue stick. It took me a while to adapt to the right analogue stick method but it’s worth doing as it gives you more control. I spent a lot of time in Career mode while playing this one. It’s a noble first attempt that just falls short. The creation options are limited (my nationality isn’t present for a start) but its not bad. This mode doesn’t really have any custom options. The race length is set, rules and damage are enabled and there are no pit stops (unless you pick up damage). You start out taking trials and can be a Test Driver for bigger teams, which is a nice feature. You will have to properly set up your car as if you don’t, you’ll spend most of your time near the back. Once you do and you start scoring points, you can move to bigger teams such as Williams and Ferrari. Each car drives differently and it can take time to get used to but stick with it and you’ll get there.
PlayStation 4 – 2019
Indivisible is an RPG-Platformer hybrid from Lab Zero Games. You control the young Ajna as she attempts to stop the world’s destruction. Along the way she’ll meet companions who will aid her in her quest. The game is a “Jack-of-All-Trades, Master of none”. The platforming is solid, with Ajna learning new skills as she progresses in the game. These new skills will open up new areas in previous maps, similar to other Metroidvania games. The RPG element is light. You can gain experience points and level up your party but there is no equipment. The characters also have three base stats that determine their strength, HP and defense. Leveling up isn’t really important as Ajna gets stronger naturally as the story progresses. Attack and defense is also more linked to the Ringlets you collect, so it’s important to find them . You can’t grind as enemies don’t respawn until the next part of the plot. The battle system is interesting. Each character is assigned to a button and pressing this button makes them attack or defend depending on the circumstance. Hitting the attack button plus Up or Down can initiate a different attack for characters, useful for breaking enemy shields. There is also a special meter but not every character has a special move. The game does suffer from some balancing issues. At first, the enemies can be a grind but in the second half you can blast through most of them. The second half also focuses more on the platforming side, with the final dungeon requiring you to master Ajna’s skills to get through. The game looks visually stunning, with everything hand drawn. A few cutscenes are animated but most are still images. The music and voice acting are wonderful. There are a lot of party members (or “Incarnations” as the game calls them) to recruit, some mandatory and some optional. These Incarnations come with their own stats and they do make a difference in battle. Sadly, some are a lot more useful than others, for example, I rarely played as Zahra but always had Yan in my team as she’s an absolute beast. Each character has their own little side story to complete, which helps to flesh them out a bit more. The game has some wonderful humour, with some characters being incredibly funny or witty (Razmi, I’m looking at you). Overall, its a fun game with an easy Platinum Trophy (if you’re into collecting those) that doesn’t always stick the landing.