GAME NAME: F1 2011
PLATFORM(S): PS VIta
RELEASE DATE(S): 22 February 2012
Pleasing the hordes of F1 followers around the world is no easy task and it’s something the Codemasters guys have somehow accomplished over the last two years. The console version was a resounding success so what about its little, yet powerful, brother?
Start up the game on your Vita and you’re welcomed by an astounding life-like introduction that looks better looking than the impressive Wipeout 2048. Since it is hard to digest what your eyes has just witnessed you’ll bang away at the X button to get into a race… then it hits you. F1 2011 looks terrible. Most of the car textures are disappointingly blurry and the scenery, while decent, isn’t exactly inspiring stuff even given how basic the real-life tracks look. “Surely the Vita is capable of something better than this?” is what you’ll be thinking.
The good news is that an F1 game should not be judged by its looks but rather by how it plays and this is where it does not disappoint. It does take a few races to get used to the handling as the analogue sticks can be a bit twitchy but that is a small price to pay. There are several button configurations that include the rear touch pad – used for acceleration and braking or shifting up and shifting down – but it’s recommended that you stick with buttons if you require tight controls. Once you’ve got the hang of the your selected configuration and can establish the KERS from the Rear Wing button it’s game on.
Being F1 2011 you will attempt to change history instead of creating it in Career, Championship and Grand Prix mode, which is a bit odd. All the driver and track stats are in line with what the 2011 season offered and the game in general is just about as deep as its console counterparts by offering detailed enough race settings (weather, AI difficulty, tyre wear, component failures and penalty restrictions) to please any veteran of the sport. Before entering a race you can tune your vehicle to perform better in practice rounds and place higher in qualifiying prior to the main race. Furthermore you can watch the live practice and qualifying sessions from the comfort of your garage and advance time to see if anyone can beat your time if you get annoyed with the wait. Once in a race you’ll find that the overall experience is as exciting as what you see on TV.
For those who have experienced all of the above on their consoles in the past there is a new mode specifically developed for the Vita. Challenges, as it implies, sets challenges such as passing as many cars as you can in one lap or driving the circuit in the shortest time possible avoiding all obstacles as you go. It’s a fun distraction from all the seriousness that surrounds the sport.
F1 2011 may look a bit ugly at times and the AI can be erratic in its behaviour but this is by far one of the better F1 games that have launched on a handheld system to date. It’s not quite a dominating Vettel-like winning recipe, but it’s a lot like a Button-like comeback kid.