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Change is afoot in Formula One, both in the real world and it’s virtual brother. But how has that change taken effect with Codemasters upcoming Xbox 360, PS3 and PC title, F1 2014?

I was lucky enough to be able to grab a fair amount of time with Codies latest F1 racer and am pleased to say that hardened F1 fans will still have a go-to game that should give them plenty of hours of entertainment, in fact, it should be something that will happily keep them wrapped up in motorsports premier class through the winter until Codemasters big next generation title hits home.

So what do we have?

Essentially, and unless you delve very deep in to the murky world of F1, you’re not going to find an awful lot of difference between the recent years F1 titles and 2014. All the usual Codemasters favourite game modes are in place and that means you’ll be able to take in a single race in GP mode, hit the full career, experience some of the finest multiplayer racing via Xbox Live, or test yourself in the now standard ‘proving grounds’. Whilst the version we had time with was still ‘work in progress’, with no career or multiplayer aspects open, we did manage to get plenty of time looking at the GP and Proving Grounds sections.

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GP gives you the option to play the game how you like, with differing difficulty levels available depending on the team you choose and the track you decide to race round. Take a Mercedes round Monza for instance and it should be a reasonable affair that is accessible to all, but place yourself firmly in the cockpit of a Lotus and go for a spin around the confines of Singapore’s Marina Bay and you’ll find things a hell of a lot more tricky. The usual, and now standard, racing assists and options are all in place as are the various race lengths (from 3 laps up to 100% race distance) and qualifying options. Dynamic weather is also back for those who prefer to spice things up a little….will it rain, won’t it rain….god knows!

If you’d rather hit the track with a set target in mind, then the proving grounds are somewhere you’ll be able to spend a whole load of time. With a huge number of scenarios in place, a full time attack mode in which you race for medals, and the good old fashioned time trials available, there’s plenty for those who like to see a bit of competitive action.

As the new Formula One rules for 2014 have seen designers come up with twitchier cars with less downforce, smaller wings and a smaller, highly turbocharged engine, one thing you really do notice immediately is the handling of the cars being somewhat different to those found in previous games. If you’re one to roll with manual gears and the majority of assists off, your first few laps (even first few races), will be a tough old affair as you struggle to get to grips with the new regulations. There does also seem to be a considerable difference between car type, with the ‘easier’ and more dominant Mercedes setting a much faster pace than I could set in one of the teams further down the grid. This may have just been my racing skills abandoning me under the pressure of a hot lap, but we’ll find out for sure when F1 2014 releases on Xbox 360 come October 17th.

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For the most part, my time with F1 was favourable, but that’s not to say things were perfect. We have to remember that werre looking at a hands on with a work in progress and that we are also on the older generation of console but there were some considerably lengthy loading times throughout and if we are looking at things close up, the lighting system with all the numerous shadows running over the cars looked very primitive…..especially noticeable in the slow motion replays. Additionally, there was a bit too much ‘glow’ from an over enthusiastic lighting engine that seemed to bathe everything in the brightest of glows, and whilst you’d expect the metallic Mclaren or Mercedes to shine bright, the rest really shouldn’t be. This was strangely more apparently on the day time races than in the night ones, and made it slightly tricky to tell some cars apart in the heat of the moment, especially at cockpit level.

I’d hope that little things like this would be tweaked before the game drops, but if you’re looking for a high standard Xbox 360 racer, then F1 2014 should be more than good enough to keep both newbies and the hardcore F1 fans happy for some time.

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