Review – F1 2020
Last year’s F1 2019 was one of the best racing games released during this entire generation. Codemasters surpassed everyone’s expectations by delivering a game with way more content than its predecessor, featuring the Formula 2 entry-level series, as well as the franchise’s sublime visuals and gameplay. I was a bit worried about F1 2020, however, not only because of the sky-high standards set by F1 2019, but also due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This not only crippled the developmental process for all gaming studios around the world, but also crippled the real life 2020 Formula One season as a whole, delaying its start for months and reducing it to a mere seven tracks as of July 2020.
How would Codemasters deal with these issues? Would they be able to deliver a game as good as F1 2019? They sure did. In fact, they did the impossible, they have just delivered what is likely to be the best F1 game of all time.
Let’s get the easy part out of the way first. When it comes to graphics, presentation, and gameplay, F1 2020 is virtually identical to F1 2019. In most franchises out there, I’d consider that a negative. I’d consider that an act of laziness. That’s not the case in here, though. I sincerely think there wasn’t a lot that needed to be fixed from F1 2019‘s fantastic visuals, framerate, and most importantly, its deeply customizable gameplay, which could be tinkered to please both newbies and simulation enthusiasts in many different ways. Codemasters knows that you shouldn’t try to fix what isn’t broken. Good on them.
F1 2020 didn’t simply copy and paste everything F1 2019 had to offer and then add a few new textures to resemble this season’s car liveries. In fact, quite a bit of content has been cut from the previous version of the game. Gone is the CW-esque drama plot from the career mode. The retro car roster suffered some setbacks as well, with a good amount of the cars from the 80’s and 70’s being axed in favor of the most iconic cars driven by the legendary Michael Schumacher throughout his entire career. There are Jordans, Benettons, and of course, Ferraris. Thankfully, Codemasters still had the decency to keep Senna’s McLarens in the game’s roster.
At the end of the day, I didn’t mind those setbacks that much. Sure, the writing in F1 2019‘s career mode was surprisingly decent, considering the prospect of having to deal with an actual plot in a racing game, but what has been added in F1 2020 more than makes up for these absences. Let me tell you about the My Team mode.
My Team is the main addition in F1 2020. This is basically a managerial mode, in which you play not only as a driver for a scuderia, but also that team’s manager. You need to handle finances, upgrade your car’s parts, deal with sponsors, sign drivers, and so on, all while still having to drive as one of your team’s pilots.
That doesn’t sound so impressive, but there’s also the fact that you don’t need to manage one of the ten scuderias from the current Formula One season. In fact, you can create a brand new one from scratch, as the season’s eleventh team on the grid! You can decide the team’s name, logo, color, liveries, and sponsors (including the ability to decide where to install sponsor logos on your car!). You can even select its powertrain, choosing between Honda, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Renault engines, just like in real life. The partner drivers you can hire for your team are also real-life drivers, all hailing from last year’s Formula 2 roster.
The My Team mode ended up being an absolute game changer. This isn’t a half-baked attempt at including a shallow layer of team management into an otherwise straight-to-the-point sports game, just like the managerial modes in FIFA games. This is the real deal, as you’re not a manager, but the actual owner of the entire scuderia. Everything you do impacts the team in some way, be it when it comes to finances and morale. You need to pay extra attention to your partner driver, as you’ll need to invest in their stats by arranging simulator sessions, buying new suites, and so on. To top it off, you still have to do the usual F1 schtick: practices, qualifying laps, races, and pilot and constructor championships.
Considering the fact that F1 2020 still has all of the officially confirmed tracks from the beginning of the season, as well as the possibility to create an eleventh scuderia to increase the size of the category’s painfully small roster, I can say that this game is easily more interesting than its real life counterpart. In a year where F1 is doomed to be reduced to a mere husk of what it used to be back in the day, F1 2020 is here to remind us of how exciting this sport can actually be. This is Codemasters’ most impressive game to date and I have no idea of how they’ll be able to surpass my expectations in 2021. All I know is that I shouldn’t doubt them, as I know they’re more than capable of surprising me yet again.
The graphics are pretty much the same as they were back in F1 2019. The same can also be said about the framerate. There was no reason to tinker what was already great, so there are no complaints in here.
Just like the graphics, the gameplay is pretty much the same thing as before. No need to fix what isn’t broken.
The less-than-exciting engine noises are as realistic as they have always been. The game still uses the Dualshock 4’s speakers in a very smart way. With that being said, the overall sound mixing is noticeable worse than before, with races being excruciatingly loud and any other section being way too quiet, even though there’s loads of voice acting.
Fun Factor: 9.0
F1 2020 removed a good chunk of its classic cars in favor of Schumacher’s vehicles throughout the years. It also doesn’t have the same story-driven career mode as before. That doesn’t matter, as its My Team mode is pure racing management perfection, being worth the admission ticket alone.
Final Verdict: 9.0
F1 2020 is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Reviewed on PS4.
A copy of F1 2020 was provided by the publisher.