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Codemasters are back with the latest iteration of their top selling official Formula One title. But does F1 2014 have enough to attract all but the most hardened F1 fans?

There were many sighs around the gaming world when Codies announced that their latest F1 title, 2014 would only appear on current gen consoles. Gamers wanted a next generation Formula One game and so the news they’d have to wait until March 2015 at the earliest was a bit of a hammer blow.

But there are still many Xbox 360 gamers out there who are after the latest F1 tracks, cars and driver movements and surely F1 2014 should be more than good enough to service all those needs?

Yeh……kinda anyways.

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Obviously with the technological changes in the real F1 world; smaller gruntier engines, twitchier cars, new tracks – yep the awesome looking Sochi Autodrom taking in the Russian Olympic Park is in there, new drivers, a couple of dominant Silver Arrows and a Caterham team that are just about holding things together at the back of the grid, F1 2014 will have a few subtle changes from the previous years attempt but it’s still a little disappointing to see something that is slightly bereft of content.

For F1 2014 doesn’t really do enough to drag casual gamers back into the worlds greatest motorsport. That’s not because it isn’t decent enough (for the racing itself is absolutely fine), but the edition Codemasters dropped last year, F1 2013 with numerous classic tracks, cars and drivers included makes this years version seem a little short on content. You can see the reason for it, the guys at Warwickshires finest race makers obviously want to focus on bringing a heavily packed F1 2015 to Xbox One early next year and this will no doubt be where the big changes are.

Yes, the usual career mode is present. Yes the RaceNet powered multiplayer side of things is fully in place and yes the scenario, time attack and time trialling options all bring a decent level of replayability to the game. But up against last years game, the lack of the ‘Classics’ is a bit of a killer.

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2014 is also a little disappointing in the visual stakes. I in no way claim to be a visual expert (talk to me about 1080p and 60 fps and I’ll give you a blank look), but whilst all the tracks, especially those at night, look superb, the cars don’t quite match up to their surroundings with a noticeable glare overriding them all and some defining features being a little jagged at best. Take a look through a wing mirror for instance and try to pick out the cars behind and you’ll see what I mean. Basic is not an over exaggeration. Excluding the Williams that has been made devoid of its alcohol stripe, the liveries are all pretty much spot on though and it’s easy enough to pick out your favourite teams and/or drivers even when hurtling past them at 200mph….just blank out the wing mirrors in cockpit view and things would be a little better.

Obviously, the usual racing views are all present so if you don’t fancy going ‘hardcore’ with the cockpit view, there should still be something present for everyones liking. Additionally, the now standard racing lines, braking assists, steering assists and the like are all available so the game can be made as hard, or as easy as you like. Indeed, in an attempt to bring the game to the masses, Codemasters have included a ‘very easy’ mode for the first time and should mean even the less skilled racers among us will be able to compete at the highest level.

Depending on which car manufacturer you decide to go with and taking into account the track you are racing round, the difficulty levels increase or decrease as you go along. Jump into Lewis Hamilton’s shoes in his Mercedes for example and everything will be a little easier than if you attempt the same race in Maldonado’s back-of-the-grid Lotus. Real world levels are pretty much in place and Codies have done a great job in trying to mirror (as much as they can), the going ons with the current F1 2014 season.

The career mode is playable in a couple of ways as well. You can jump in with a full season with standard qualifying sessions, or hit the more exciting season challenges in which you take on a rival or four over the course of ten races. I’d expect the less hardened fans would appreciate this mode much more than the rather sterile full season mode, whilst the F1 fanatics will no doubt baulk at anything other than full race distances, full simulation settings with tyre wear and simulated damage in place.

There is just about something for all really. Only just mind you!

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Aside from the career and if you are looking for a decent ten minute time waster, then you really should be checking out the scenario modes, time attacks or time trials. Of course, the GP mode is also there if you just want to take any old car out onto a specific track….your rules, your way! Throw in some multiplayer that, if you take Codies background for superb online action, has all the pedigree for some fast flowing, close action racing – both as a single player online, through split screen and system link or via the co-op championship – and you should have a game that will maybe hold its own for all motorsport fans throughout the winter and into the start of next season.

Casual racers may just be best waiting until next year though as F1 2014 doesn’t quite reach the top step of the podium….even with the inclusion of the new very easy mode!

#ForzaJules

txh rating 4

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