F1 2021 Adds On To The Yearly Series With More Gas In The Tank

F1 2021 Cover Art

F1 2021

Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: July 16, 2021
Available as: Physical and Digital

F1 2021 Finds Itself Stalling On The Starting Grid

Before I even begin to provide my thoughts on the F1 2021 game as a whole, I’d wanna bring up the installation process as that was probably the most interesting part. The game had about a 30 GB install file size and a 17 GB update, which in most circumstances, is larger than the file size of most games. 

Then, there was a matter of copying the update file once it was finished downloading, installing, or whatever it was that it does once the game finishes installing. The process took about 24 minutes to fully install, plus an added 5 or so minutes to copy the update meant that it took a total of a half-hour to fully play the game, from disc, mind.

Players aren’t 100% out of the woods yet though as they still have to wait for the game to install whatever excess data needs to be installed. It is at this point that the game was only accessible to specific modes, mainly Grand Prix, which is this game’s Exhibition mode, but also the settings. What drew my attention was the various settings under the “driving style” selected, Casual, Standard, and Expert.

F1 2021 Promo Image
F1 2021 The Official Video Game Codemasters/EA Sports PS5

Casual settings offered the least, only showing driving aids and graphic settings, while Standard and Expert goes into a bit more detail including a breakdown of the driving aids, how each setting will affect a car’s performance, and other details to ensure a player’s experience is as close to driving an F1 sim as possible. 

Once the game finally finishes installing 100% and once the player moves past the patented EA microtransaction menus, you’re greeted with a relatively simple menu to follow. The customization options include the ability to change your car’s livery, your driver model, what clothes they wear, and even their vocal and physical win gestures. There’s a showroom mode that shows the cars from the F1 2021 and 2020 seasons, including close-up 360-degree views of the cars and voiced biographies on each of the racing teams. Fans of F1 racing would appreciate the attention to detail, much like they would appreciate the new story mode.

Once The Engine Starts Running, F1 2021 Becomes Fun

Aside from a traditional Career mode, the game features an original story mode titled “Braking Point,” that upon playing the first race and going through the first few cutscenes, give off an NBA 2K series story mode vibe. The premise, all the same, takes a prodigy from the racing equivalent to the minor leagues and watch as they make it in the big leagues or Formula 2 to Formula 1 racing. The character models look realistic enough, even though the expressions of the characters feel plastic-y at best. There are things to look at in your room, which acts as the main hub for the story mood, including emails, answering phone calls, reading your progress on social media, and checking on the latest news in-game. 

F1 2021 Promo Image #2
F1 2021 The Official Video Game Codemasters/EA Sports PS5

From the small time I’ve had in the mode, it has the potential to be a pretty interesting time-spender although when it comes to racing stories, I’ve felt more engaged in the more absurd ones that forego realism for storytelling. My review for R: Racing Evolution shows more on what my type of story is that I look for in comparison to this game that strives to be as realistic as possible in a “Hollywood” ish setting.

The actual graphics are well made on the PS5, although stopping to appreciate the graphics mean that racers will focus less on racing and more on sightseeing, which is an unfortunate thing for most racing titles. The Gran Turismo series, historically, have had amazing graphical detail at the time, especially with the third and fourth title, but to fully appreciate the level of detail means spending less time racing and trying to win.

F1 2021's Attention To Detail Is Brilliant Even In Motion

In F1 2021, where winning is just about everything, such details are easily overlooked, including the textures of the cars as reflections bounce off the models, the textures of the grass, as well as the minor details like cloud movement, is also prevalent. In specific courses, like the Singapore course at night, the evening fog reflects off of the streetlamps, casting a hazy effect that gives a more dynamic illumination than simply “We’re racing at night.” It’s all neat effects that tap into the PS5’s power, though a recent patch that limits the ray-tracing for increased performance means that not all of the PS5’s capabilities are utilized.

F1 2021 Promo Image #3
F1 2021 The Official Video Game Codemasters/EA Sports PS5

The gameplay is as “arcadey” and “simulation” as the player would want it to be, with enough settings to make the car behave leniently or as realistic as possible. As the difficulty is tied to casual drivers vs professional racing enthusiasts, there’s something for everyone and the gameplay is customizable enough to create an experience tailor-made for the player.

The game takes utilization of the haptic feedback, applying pressure to the trigger sensors to replicate the pressure of the braking system locking up a car. If a car’s anti-lock system is active, then the tightness on the left trigger will be felt, giving players a sensor to adjust accordingly. Throttle revving also gives the same effect to the right trigger, serving as a physical cue and ultimately bringing a sense of realism usually reserved for a professional wheel setup.

F1 2021's Story Mode Rivals NBA 2K's Story Endeavors.

As per usual for Codemaster racing games, there lies the existence of a flashback/replay feature, which is optional for the player to use, yet can correct mistakes made if the player happens to drive off course and into the grass or stray away from the racing line. Damage and car configuration in real-time, allowing the distribution of brake bias and fuel management, whereupon crashing a wall at high speed your car will total out, giving you the chance to rewind to a point where the player prevents this from happening.

Overall, the new story mode seems to be Codemasters’ attempt to return to the style of racing that they were known for during the TOCA Race Driver days, featuring a racing story that seeks to detail the pros and cons of professional racing. As far as content, there seems to be enough courses and cars, especially favorite drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, to allow players to scratch the itch of their yearly F1 series. Here’s hoping that the microtransactions don’t begin to plague the longtime racing series like other EA sports titles, or other big named sports titles in general.

F1 2021 is now available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X.

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