F1 in a browser, anyone?
Back in 2009, when Codemasters were granted the license to produce all upcoming F1 games for many years, many of us only expected one game every year with the updated teams. However this year has been different. Codemasters are adventuring into the Free-To-Play area with F1 Online:The Game. I was one of the first few people to be granted access to the Beta. The developers did include a very useful feature of a tutorial that you have to go through, which allows you to learn the mouse controls before you go into real racing against other people. The controls consist of using your mouse to steer (and accelerate and brake if you want) and ‘W’ and ‘S’ for accelerating and Braking. These controls are a little out of the ordinary, but if you can master them, then you can master the game and (hopefully) beat many other people too. The game is run in a browser, which isn’t exactly the best way of playing currently available, so naturally you probably wouldn’t expect very good graphics. However, the brilliant developers at Codemasters Birmingham have been able to make the game look very good, and still run on older PCs. The cars in the game are from the 2011 Season of Formula 1 (the developers are looking to include 2012 Season at a later date) and they are pretty much exact copies of the cars. The tracks for the F1 2011 Calendar are included as well, however these are being added slowly as they complete development. However, one thing that you may find a little annoying is the camera movement. The camera is a partial Birds Eye view, that is offset from directly above the car, so you get a look of 3D. However, because the cars are controlled with the mouse, when you are going down some of the straights in the game, the camera slowly moves around the car a little which offsets your mouse so your car may go into the wall. There is also a problem with the straights on a few tracks where randomly the performance of your car just dips along the straight (You get close to your top speed and then you lose a few MPHs). However these are small problems with a game which should be ironed out at the close of the Beta. F1 Online is taking on the Free-To-Play genre, and where most games in the area allow you to pay-to-win, with F1 Online, you have a opportunity to pay for new paint schemes and boosts to money and XP. This then determines your Team Level, and allows you to get a better car more quickly. So there is no pay-to-win aspect to the game, which makes it a very good and fair game for the F2P genre. The currency used in game is Codemasters Points, and the shop is a very stable system. In-game, you get an opportunity to either race others on F1 circuits with 2011 cars, or build your own team and race them against other people’s teams. The “Build your team” aspect is taking more of a managing approach, but you still get the chance to drive your car in online races. As you progress through the game, your engineers and other key figures suggest milestones, such as trying to beat certain times on tracks in Time Trial mode, or get 5 podiums in online races. These objectives give you the most XP and money once completed, which can then be spent on the development of your team. You don’t just have control of your car’s development. You have the ability to upgrade the Team’s HQ, Research, Production and Commercial centers, which then give you options to purchase boosts with Dev Points which you get at each level. As you level up, more buildings become available to build in the centers, which means more components that makes your car much faster. With more components, you have the opportunity to change the downforce and drag reduction of Front/Rear wings, improve power or launches on engines among other components. The game allows for an F1 fan with basic understanding to play this game well without knowing massive amounts of the amount in kilograms that the Front and Rear wing combined creates. Finally, the sounds for the game are not exactly what you would call top notch. General audio are very basic, but its around the sort of level you should expect for a browser game. The game is sure to be a great addition to the current F1 franchise that Codemasters offers, mainly for people who are unable to run the dedicated F1 games, or would just like that Pick up & Play style of game. If you want a chance to play a pretty decent looking F1 title, and want to manage your own F1 team, then F1 Online:The Game is for you. Open Beta signup is now available and you can get into the game within 5 minutes and start racing from there.
The Bad: Controls are difficult to get use to, but they are manageable; Server Matchmaking system isn’t properly up to scratch – You can simply put the best lower case items on and go against first time players and win;