Simulation racers have always been a double edged sword for me, some are good, some are bad but most I have come to hate. Every once in a while though a game comes along that changes your entire preconceived notion of the genre; F1 2011 is one of those games. F1 2011 is the sequel to the hit F1 2010, and while this game was a hit it suffered from a shoddy console port and early release to meet console schedules which resulted in game breaking bugs. The biggest question a person could ask is does 2011 suffer from any of the same problems that 2010 did or have they been remedied? The easiest way to put it, yes the bugs have been worked out.
Breaking into F1 2011 is quite a simple and enjoyable experience; with everything from an intuitive menu system to detailed stats located throughout. It's one of those games that is focused on the theatrics and immersion to keep you engaged all the way from menu to race and works quite well. There are several modes to choose from ranging from Career, Grand Prix, Multiplayer and Proving Grounds. The Career takes you across the entire 2011 Formula One race circuit with the choice of picking from one of twelve teams and twenty four drivers. This is by far one of the most well setup careers for a racing game I have seen in a long time and as you progress you actually feel as if you are moving up in the ranks. With leveling, challenges, practice, long qualifying and races you can make anywhere from 3 to nearly 75 laps; you will never find yourself looking for something to do.
Grand Prix is very similar to the career but more of an arcade mode. You can just jump in, pick a car and select a line-up of tracks that you want to do rather than the linear career which is locked down to the real 2011 race season. This is a good way to get a feel for all the tracks and cars prior to actually dedicating yourself to the career. Multiplayer is fully customizable with so many options and things to do it's impossible to list without droning on. They really went all out on this with three modes to partake in multiplayer, Online, Splitscreen and LAN. The final mode is Proving Grounds which has two individual modes within it, Time Trials and Time Attack. Time Trials is a basic trial mode where you pick a track and try to get the best lap times you possibly can while facing off against a ghost car of your previous best times. Time Attack works similar to this but pits you against set times to beat and attain gold, silver or bronze metals as a reward for refining your driving abilities and beating times.
This is the product of a console port that did everything correctly. No bugs that I could find, fluid motion, fairly high detailed environments and a driving experience that will leave you wanting more and more. Making your way through the career will leave you with a sense accomplishment as you have to work for your position in the poles. Dynamic difficulty is very apparent as you complete races; it seems as if with every win the competition gets harder and harder to keep you on your toes. If you are looking to create a car suited to your specific wants and needs there is no shortage of customization for this. You can choose specific tires for the event, a variable scale from wet to dry for your top speed and down-force; then tweak all aspects of the car individually so you will have the perfect race winning machine.
All of the menus in the game and ways you select things heighten the overall immersion into it. Things flow with a natural pace and easy to understand parameters for selections which never confuse you into doing something you don't want to do. Before, during and after races you are granted a true Formula One experience which includes interviews, reading mail you have received, or hanging out in your trailer watching the world of activity taking place outside. For the most part the environments are stunning, there will be moments of photo realism which cannot even be put into words but this is a contrast to the things which are also not very convincing like low texture quality on certain things. With 19 locations spanning all across the globe the amount of sights to take in is massive. Tracks are designed to exact specifications just as if they are real and the weather effects are something out of this world.
Taking part in a race in the rain versus a clear and dry day is a night and day difference. Not only will the world around you look more real and convincing but so will the race. The amount of tension you get from taking corners in the rain is breath taking. Watching the spray from it as it flies off of the car’s tires is something else and the visual effects accomplished through the use of DirectX 11 technology is out of this world. To put it mildly the game is beautiful but just as expected from a console port it does exhibit some drawbacks to overall visual quality due to limitations of 6 year old consoles.
Multiplayer is a testament to how much love and care was devoted to this game, it works great for international play, has a nice learning curve for playing with actual humans and some fantastic modes. You can go head to head with friends, play actual races with a full roster, do co-op or even split screen for those limited to playing at home. They really pulled out all the stops for this and give you multiplayer gaming just as you would want and need, nothing was spared here.
If you are looking for a realistic Formula One experience this is as close as you will get to taking a trip to Monaco and watching a race first hand. The sound of the engines, tires screeching, crowds cheering and cars that handle like they are on rails. This game is a true testament to those who have a huge passion for racing and for games. I don't know how I can put it plainly enough but everything just works! This is without a doubt the most well rounded racing title I can think of, you would be absolutely out of your mind to not check this out and for those missing out on it; what a shame.