F1 2011 chief game designer Stephen Hood talks us through what’s new in this year’s F1 title, and how it’ll make amends for last year’s lacklustre multiplayer.
Stephen Hood, chief game designer on F1 2011, says this year’s Formula 1 game from Codemasters is all about the multiplayer, admitting F1 2010‘s multiplayer offering “wasn’t brilliant at all”. In a hands-off presentation of his game’s salient points, Hood tells us this time there’ll be full a grid in online multiplayer races (that is, 24 cars in each, with 16 of those driven by human players). After F1 2010 limited the cars on the track in multiplayer to just 12, properly filling the grid is a welcome upgrade–albeit a no brainer. Also welcome is the prospect of the new two-player splitscreen mode, featuring the same full 24-car grid.
What else does F1 2011 have to offer, besides the year’s new teams and drivers? Additional season 2011 rules, says Hood, along with the 19 circuits with additions for 2011. There are also KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems): battery packs which harvest energy from a car while it is braking, saving it for a boost of power later on. New also are Pirelli tyres and DRS: the Drag Reduction System that changes the state of the car’s rear wing to aid overtaking.
F1 2011 also brings handling advancements with a view to “bring the pace down” and make players think about racing strategy rather than just moment-to-moment action, says Hood. And there’s a new driver AI system in place to produce computer-controlled characters with more lifelike racing behaviour. The damage system has been enhanced, we’re told, with a car’s handling degrading over time, for instance, based on the way you drive. Visual improvements are promised as well, with better-looking tracks, lighting, and a full day-to-night transition among the pledges from Codemasters.
In the game’s more complete career mode, Hood tells us players will really “live the life” of an F1 driver–not with wealth or celebrity girlfriends, but by means of cinematics in the Parc fermé area, enhanced garage visuals and atmosphere, and a new press feedback system in which you get sent press clippings with headlines based on your in-game actions. There’s a co-op championship mode, too, in which you can play with a friend as a team-mate through an F1 season.
Promising though the new gadgets, modes, and upgrades sound, we’ve seen none of these in action in the shape of an actual live demo just yet, and had no word on whether we’ll see a safety car this time around–but look for more at E3, at which Codemasters also promises to unveil a whole new game mode. F1 2011 is out from September 23 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, with a version for the Wii and Sony’s next-generation portable handheld to follow later.