Codemasters and racing games just go together. Whether it’s Micro Machines or the Dirt series their games always work and work well, but could the transition to the iPhone prove as successful? Unfortunately the outlook isn’t good.
F1 2011 offers plenty of modes including Time Trial, Grand Prix and Championship mode. In Grand Prix mode you can just jump straight into a race at any circuit and decide whether to play through a full race weekend, a short one or just get straight to the tarmac. This is a good place to get used to racing with other drivers as well as getting used to the new locations including the new Indian Grand Prix.
In World Championship you get to race as any driver from the 2011 season. There is no career mode here so if you just want to race at Red Bull you can; it’s a shame they decided to leave this out as it was fun working your way through the lower teams to eventually join one of the big teams. Finally Time trial allows you to choose a circuit and race up to ten laps to clock the fastest time possible.
“So what about the racing?” I hear you say, well you will either love it or hate it to be honest. There are four different presets for controlling your car, with default one offering full brake/throttle control with tilt steering. The others included auto acceleration and using an on screen steering wheel which was infuriating to drive, in fact it felt broken. I stuck with the default preset as it was the best of a bad bunch. The cars feel far too unstable at high speeds and I spent more time off the track than on it! With more practice I did improve but I still crashed far more often that I would have done on the console version. The 2011 season saw the KERS system introduced which meant there was another on-screen button for you to use, which sits just above the accelerator. I would have found it much easier to use if had been below the accelerator but hopefully an update might allow you to change this.
I’d love to say that gameplay makes things better, but it’s not the case. For example. it doesn’t matter if you are driving for Ferrari or Virgin the cars all seem to be equal, which means you can end up seeing the likes of Lewis Hamilton starting at the back and Sebastian Vettel actually losing races. To compound the misery I have for this game there is a weird pit-stop mini game which involves you tapping the screen 15 times to complete a pit stop. I don’t have a problem with the fact there is a mini game but the fact that it meant each pit stop took over 15 seconds is unacceptable in F1 these days.
If you are still reading this review in hope that things get better, they don’t. Apart from the main menus the presentation is pretty poor. Despite being recognisable, the cars and tracks look blocky and certainly don’t take advantage of the retina display on my iPhone 4s. The in-game music is familiar to those who have played the console versions of the game and isn’t too bad but once you hit the race track it all goes downhill again. The engine sounds from the cars is very poor too, it all feels very flat.
I don’t think I’ve been this disappointed by an iPhone title before, even more so as I was quite looking forward to reviewing it. I’d love to say that a quick update would fix the game, but I don’t think it will. I also think Codemasters have a bit of cheek to charge £4.99 for this. There are much better racing titles about. Just avoid this.
MLG Rating: 2/10 Platform: iOS Release Date: 17/01/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of F1 2011 for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an iPhone 4s. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.