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F1 2016 Review

Formula 1 is one of the worlds best known and most popular forms of motorsport. It may not be as well known here in the US, but I have been a fan since I was introduced to it in the late 80’s. The cars were beautifully violent and I was instantly hooked. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that F1 ended up on our beloved Apple TV! Here’s my review of F1 2016 from Codemasters.

Graphics

Hmmmm… Where to start with the visuals in F1 2016. Well, they are definitely a bit above average in my opinion though they may not be as spectacular on a whole as Real Racing 3. There is a lot of detail and the tracks match their real-world counterparts very well. Just imagine a slightly slimmed down version of the console and PC versions with lower texture maps sizes and less fidelity and optical prowess. Maybe I am making this sound bad. It’s the exact opposite. The game looks great especially for a mobile game that has been ported to the Apple TV platform. It looks like a console game.

 

Now, this detail does take a bit of a toll on the frame rates at times and it can be a little irritating to be honest. But I will get into that in the Gameplay section of the review.

 

CARS 

The car models are where the game really shines. For a “mobile” game they look fantastic. The detail in the cockpit is superb while the entire car models themselves are beautifully done. All the teams have their own steering wheels and they work as you would expect. The cockpit view is fairly packed with controls and creates a very smothering yet comfortable feeling while driving. There is a clipping issue though when using the cockpit view. It can be a bit distracting and I wish they would have fixed this. I know when I worked on Virtual Grand Prix 3 and my own game, Auto Sport Driving, I encountered the same issue when incorporating cockpit views into my open wheel race series vehicles. But we got around this by creating a deformation application that stretched the cockpit a bit to give the illusion that it wrapped around the driver. I am hopeful this is something that can be fixed, but in all reality, I doubt they will put that time in for the cockpit view. The wheels look great and become visibly worn down while racing. Again, I think this is fantastic for a mobile game.

 

TRACKS 

The tracks are stripped down versions of their console counterparts, but do not let this dissuade you. They are still full of the detail that Codemasters is famous for when creating their F1 series games. the asphalt is very detailed while the trackside objects do suffer a bit of low resolution texture mapping. But these things can be forgiven in my opinion when you take the entire visual package into consideration.

 

USER INTERFACE 

The user interface is a bit clunky in it’s execution at times on the Apple TV, but graphically, it is solid. The menus are clean, bright and contrasting. The images used are high quality and really make the game “pop”.

 

DAMAGE 

The game does contain an option to have damage turned on. Unfortunately, you can only break the front and rear wings while the rest of the car stays fairly clean. But what little damage is there is done well enough to give the illusion of real race damage.

Sound

I know it seems like I am obsessed with racing games right?! I am. It’s probably something I should seek therapy over. That’s a different website though. Again, there is not a lot to say about the audio profile within F1 2016.

 

MUSIC 

The music in F1 2016 is sparse, but well done. Unfortunately, for those that like a little inspirational music while they drive to push them on are out of luck as it is not available while racing. But while navigating the menus, it is one time in which I actually do not mind leaving it on. Normally, the first thing I do in almost any game is shut the music off unless it is stellar. Check out the game, Stellar Wanderer, and my review of the game here, for some great music. But back to F1 2016.

 

ENGINE AND AMBIENT SOUNDS 

This is where some work was put into F1 2016 for the Apple TV. The engine sounds are great and each team has their own engine note that can be quickly picked up by the trained F1 enthusiasts ear. It’s a lot like thrash metal music in the 80’s. I remember my parents and friends telling me it all sounded the same, but to me each song was a totally different experience. Well, I’m old and turning into my father a bit I guess, but I digress. Lose grip and hear the squeal of the tires. Use every inch of the road and rumble over the curbs or even the grass and know it by the sound itself.

 

VOICE OVERS AND PIT CREW RADIO 

Yes, there is voice work and even a pit engineer to help you with pretty basic commands and statements while you are racing. It is a very welcomed addition as it makes you feel a bit more like an actual driver. The commentary before each race is jazzy and actually very well done.

Gameplay

Ok, this is where F1 2016 falls a bit flat and also excites. It’s feast or famine when it comes to different aspects of the gameplay. The sense of speed is well defined and the controls, whether using the Siri Remote or a controller, are very tight and responsive. But the framerate stuttering can be a letdown on certain tracks and under certain conditions in which there is a long stretch of track and a lot of cars visible. But all in all it is very playable.

 

The AI has a bit of an issue though. There are numerous times you will simply see them weaving back and forth down the track and it is very distracting. Also, they tend to overzealously stick to their lines creating more of a NASCAR feel than F1. They are also not very quick. Even on the hardest difficulty level, it is quite simple to win if you have chosen one of the better teams. If you have the damage turned on, getting through the first corner can be a real challenge depending on which difficulty you have chosen. But this can be overcome a bit if you play with patience in mind and it might help to consider running races that are 25% and higher as you can drive methodically, carefully and without stress still giving you enough time to push your way back through the pack.

 

There are various modes to choose from, many that have become commonplace in F1 games. But F1 2016 also features a Weekly Event that is a nice distraction from the normal routines. Setting your best lap time on that weeks track will get you a spot on the leaderboard and it can be very challenging. There is a Season mode and even a Custom Season mode for those that want to change things up. My favorite is still the Race Weekend mode in which you can simply experience a full race weekend at the track of your choice. Time Attack is what we have all come to know and love over the past 20 some-odd years of playing F1 games and there is always the Quick Race mode which gets you into a race very quickly.

 

Now, when you download the game, the only track that is technically loaded onto your Apple TV is the Australian GP. When you want to race on another track, it has to download from the server and it might take a few minutes. But once it is downloaded, you don’t have to wait again. I know a lot of players do not like this and I am hoping the next Apple TV will have larger drive options so developers don’t really have to consider doing this. Apple has already paved the way for larger initial downloads now which may help future games, but this one is already finished and we have to deal with it. But I don’t think this will be a deal breaker for most.

 

There’s a lot to like here and numerous things to do for those who really enjoy racing games in general. But to the F1 enthusiast, it might be a love/hate relationship with F1 2016. The intricacies of this sport are demanding when it comes to Formula 1 and Codemasters have gotten much of it right. But the little glitches and AI issues might really offend someone with loads of knowledge about F1 and the games that have been released over the previous decades. I will admit that I am simply happy that I can play the game on my Apple TV. I’m not spoiled on this platform, We Apple TV gamers get passed by a lot and we are dealing with a device that is still in its infancy. Just give us F1 games. I don’t care what issues it has. It is forgiven. I want to see F1 2017 come to the Apple TV and I know the games will get better with each iteration if they decide to bless us with more games in this series.

Value

This is simple;

 

$9.99 USD for a one-time payment. No IAP’s. Everything unlocked when you start the game. Beautiful F1 cars and their exact liveries along with tracks that mimic their real-world counterparts very well. If you are a racing fan, especially an F1 fan, and you are counting on your Apple TV to bring you a racing high without using any real drugs or alcohol, this game is worth it in my opinion. You’ll find issues with it. You’ll ask yourself “what the heck happened in that corner” or “why is the framerate so choppy here” or even “I won that race a bit too easily” a few times while racing. But all in all, it is well worth the price of admission and is quite ambitious in the scope of what is included for an F1 game.

 

It’s definitely not for everyone and you’ll find many reviews that are quite a bit more negative than mine. But I’m a really nice guy and I really like F1. Wait….. maybe you shouldn’t listen to me. This might have been a waste of time for you to read. Crap! Sorry about that. But have a great day anyway. ;)

Screenshots

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