Xbox One, PS4, PC
July 10, 2020
The F1 2020 season was curtailed due to COVID 19 earlier this year, so the worlds most popular motorsport series’ such as NASCAR and Formula 1 moved to televised online racing. While most eschewed their official games and went with premier racing sim iRacing, Formula 1 stuck to their guns and went with last years F1 2019. Depending on your taste in racing, Formula 1 is either incredibly exciting or a little technical, a little dry and a touch repetitive. They have been racing – more or less – the same tracks for the last 70 years after all. That said though the online series was fantastic, featuring loads of crashes and carnage in stark contrast to the somewhat tame iRacing offerings of other series.
With that then, hot off the heals of a brilliant virtual series comes F1 2020 the official video game of the 2020 Formula 1 and Formula 2 championships. F1 2020 is developed by Codemasters and is the 12th entry in the series. Personally, Formula 1 isn’t a sport I follow closely, but after enjoying the virtual series earlier this year I was keen take this one out for a couple of laps.
F1 2020 features the championship as it was intended to be scheduled prior to the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. It includes all 22 tracks – even Circuit Zanvoort and the Hanoi Street Circuit, which are two tracks new to the series this year – despite the fact the races didn’t take place due to the current circumstances we all find ourselves in. It features all 20 drivers and 10 teams from this years series, as you would imagine it would do, being an official game and all.
All of the expected gameplay options are present in F1 2020. You can start a career as a custom driver or start your own race team, you can run a championship playing as your favourite driver, race a friend in split screen or hop online and challenge racers from all over the world. If modern F1 isn’t really your thing you can play a championship made up of classic F1 cars from the golden years of the sport on classic tracks.
One thing this game does have in spades is options… loads of options. You can change pretty much anything in this game. You can tailor the number of races in career if you don’t feel like running a complete 22 season. You can tailor the length of the races as a percentage of the actual race depending on whether you feel like a short sprint or an authentic length. If you feel like you want to get down and dirty and set up an F1 car for a race, messing with tire pressure and wing angles, go for it. Most importantly though, you can change the way the game plays to fit your taste in racing.
Some gamers like arcade style racing and others are more attune to more realistic simulator type games. F1 2020 is designed to appeal to everyone, which means that if you want to just blast around a course with assists on, banging into other drivers without destroying your vehicle and without worrying about the complexities of F1, it’s not a problem. Alternatively if you want a more realistic experience it is available to you and you can get as involved in the game as you want to. As you gain some skills and get better at it, you can tweak the settings as you go and really dial in the experience to fit your play style.
That said though, even if you do decide to take it easy on yourself, F1 2020 still requires a lot of practice and concentration. These cars are just so fast and they take corners at impossible speeds. The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is a great example; for most of the track you will be going flat out at 300kph plus and taking corners at that speed is terrifying.
While you are screaming around the tracks, if you dare, during gameplay you can bring up a menu to get information about your car, tire temperature, general wellness or a different menu to communicate to your team, provide them instructions for your next pit stop for example. But I have to say managing a menu while driving on the edge of physics is a recipe for a massive crash so I didn’t bother most of the time.
Career mode, which is likely where you will spend a fair amount of your time, is a fairly involved affair. Alongside getting down to racing, you will need to manage the car and allocate points you have earned to developing upgrades, manage the media by doing pre and post race interviews and negotiate salary with teams at the end of a season. During practise sessions you can run a number of programs to assist you to learn the course and test your car, and unless you already know the tracks I definitely recommend taking some time to work through these to give you the best chance of success when it comes to the race itself.
A race at say 25% length would take you between 20-25 minutes and trust me, you will need to be concentrating the whole time to make sure you are hitting the right line on the track and remembering which corner is coming up next and what gear to be in. I found I almost talked to myself while racing; long straight, chicane, chicane, breaking point, down to second gear… almost like I would imagine a rally co-driver to be.
Given modern F1 cars have 8 gears, this is no easy feat to go from 8th to 2nd into a tight turn, but if you do it right it all pays off when you are leading the pack on your way to a drivers championship. When I came to the last race in my career I was only a few points behind the leader and it was a tricky track, but I practised and when it came time to race I was flying.
Visually, it’s no surprise that F1 2020 looks great – this is the official game of the worlds premier class of motorsport after all. So all of the tracks and cars are highly detailed and realistic. The human character models are still a bit average but that can be forgiven. The weather effects are excellent as well. It’s not uncommon to have a race where it will start raining halfway through which means a change in strategy. When it buckets down with rain though, it can be impossible to see where you are going, which makes for some intense racing.
Overall I really like F1 2020, it is the first F1 game I have played in a long time so I couldn’t comment of whether it is worth a trade up or not if you are still playing last year’s edition. I like that you can tailor your experience, you are not forced into either a sim or arcade style and that you can tweak your experience as you go. The presence of classic F1 cars from the golden age is a nice touch and provides some extra content to play around with. F1 is a unique sport and the style doesn’t appeal to all but its definitely a solid game and worth a try.
- Tailor the game to your tastes
- Fast, furious and terrifying racing
- Lots of content to keep you busy
- Formula 1 is a very particular type of racing
- Bit of a learning curve if you don't know the tracks
I really enjoyed playing F1 2020, really there is not much to fault unless you just do not like Formula 1 racing and therefore probably wouldn’t read this review in the first place. It has all the gameplay options you could want and all of the settings mean you can tailor the experience to your preference. It will take a few laps to learn tracks if you aren’t familiar but there is a sense of accomplishment when you master them. The career mode is in-depth and I enjoyed racing the classic F1 cars of the past as well. If you don’t like racing games obviously there is no point trying this one, but if you have had enough of GT Sport and Forza it’s definitely going to give you plenty of bang for your buck.