Posted October 8, 2014 by Peter in Previews

Hands on: F1 2014

F1 2014 logo
F1 2014 logo

Looking at the technical specification changes laid out in the Formula One rulebook for 2014, I do not envy Codemasters their task of developing a new game that reflects them. But that game is almost here, and Games Fiends got hands on with it recently.

Jumping into some quick races, adjusting the game to the player’s ability seems to be at the heart of the experience. Initially picking one of the drivers – every driver and team of the 2014 season is available, as you’d expect – is just the first of many choices. The full selection of tracks from the 2014 season are available, including the classic of Britain’s Silverstone, the Red Bull Ring in Austria’s mountains, and the Bahrain Grand Prix which – like the actual event – can be raced at night.

And how long do you want the race to be? A three or five lap spin, or racing 50% or 100% of the actual event? With or without qualifying and practice sessions beforehand? Difficulty can be tweaked too, with five fixed settings from very easy to very hard, and a custom setting as well. And if those weren’t enough variables, you can also set the weather conditions… Running through these settings can only take moments, but it should allow the game to be set to something suitable for most players.
F1 2014 screen
It is at this point you will find yourself loaded in, and able to select to start the race. However, if you’re more technically minded, you may also find this to be the point everything opens up to you, with the option of adjusting the car’s settings.

Away from the game, the 2014 season has had some pretty significant changes to the technical specifications of the cars. To keep the cars within comparable racing states, almost every possible element of the vehicle is regulated – the 2014 cars all have V6 turbocharged engines, for example, and are integrated with kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) to collect waste heat and convert it into power to be used when accelerating.

But there is also room left for adjustment, and some of this is offered to the player. You can take the default vehicle if you just want a quick race of course, but if you want to get more involved you can change things from the obvious such as tire compounds to the less obvious – but significant – such as the cars suspension or weight balance.
F1 2014 screen
(Thanks to the dynamic weather, one of my sample races ended up in the rain, and I suddenly felt the effect of not adjusting my tires to suit the conditions, seeing the field progressively sneak away from me. By the time I limped home, embarrassment having grown at every increasing split-time, I was almost hoping no one would notice… The option to keep the game solely in clear weather appealed at that point, but it gave a quick impression of the potential depth if you wanted greater challenges to react to)

There is clearly a lot of content available – in my not-exactly brief hands on I still didn’t even get to touch on the multiplayer modes – promising 16 players and 8 AI to fill the grind – or a career mode which is due to offer the full season, or a seven or twelve race season if you’d prefer something briefer.

Let’s be honest – there are a lot of options available to tweak the game, hopefully finding that sweet spot for your personal satisfaction. F1 2014 has taken the focus of their licence, and still managed to provide something for drivers of all abilities, even ones as poor as myself taking satisfaction in simply keeping within the field. How the game feels to play with others – and indeed, in longer sessions than a preview can offer – will be seen when the game is released later this month.

F1 2014 will be release for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 17th in the UK, and October 21st in North America.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.