The new game is more an evolution than a whole new game, which makes sense given the makers mapped all the circuits save India and the Nurburgring for the previous game. There are two questions: is the game any good, and is it worth buying if you already have F1 2010?
My non-exhaustive research suggests that the first answer is Yes, and the second is Maybe.
First of all, a brief recap of the pros and cons of F1 2010.
Full-length seasons available
Many options to vary the length of races and difficulty
Pretty nice visuals and sounds
Brilliant weather system
The race engineer
Big Bug 1: when in the pit lane you get held until every other car there has left [can be mostly worked around by altering your pit stop strategy pre-race]
Big Bug 2: if you save when partway through R&D your save file gets corrupted. R&D can be done, but saving should only occur (at the earliest) after Q1.
It’s enjoyable but flawed. In retrospect the score I gave may have been a bit too high, as the second bug can be forgotten during the course of seven seasons and is irritating as hell.
Happily, the fact that the game builds on its predecessor suggests that the two above bugs should be fully resolved. If not, whoever is responsible deserves to be fired into space from some sort of giant artillery gun.
The weather system was pretty much perfect, and that’ll remain, and the graphics have also been improved (I think).
Additional extras include more non-racing stuff, such as Parc Ferme and a new paddock area.
Multi-player’s not my thing, but the options from the last game have been expanded, and it’s possible for two players to compete in a co-operative championship, which sounds pretty cool.
A very significant addition is the safety car. It was missing last time, and it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they’ve managed to make it work. If the pit bug remains then diving into the pits could, instead of being brilliant, be costly.
Some of the biggest changes reflect those that have happened with the 2011 rules. Here’s a brief rundown:
KERS: Kinetic Energy Recovery System
Basically, KERS harvests the energy lost through breaking and recycles it. This means that for a short time per lap you can press a button and unleash the energy, gaining a small but significant power boost.
DRS: Drag Reduction System
The rear wing now has a flap. When opened (on a straight typically) it cuts down drag and increases the top speed. In the race, it can only be used under certain conditions, in practice and qualifying it’s available anywhere the driver can manage with less grip.
These degrade much more rapidly than the Bridgestone ones of 2010, and they have an often substantial gap between the compounds in terms of pace and durability. This should add a significant element of strategy to the races.
Will I be buying this game? No, even though I’m a big F1 fan. I’m reasonably confident the bugs of F1 2010 will have been ironed out and many areas will be improved, but it would, for me, be too similar to it. Besides, with no major rule changes in 2012 the next game will be even more improved and offer the same rules as F1 2011.
If I didn’t have F1 2010 it’s pretty likely I’d be buying it. But, I do, and it isn’t.
I’ve also recently toyed with the idea of buying Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which has gone done very well with some friends of mine. However, as remarked upon recently, I need to spend more time writing, not less, and as I’ll be losing 6-18 months of productivity to Skyrim I don’t want to lose anymore.
On Skyrim: my plan is to write a preview a week or so before it comes out (11/11/11), then do a quick First Impressions post (think I did this with Dragon Age 2) a few days later, and a proper review when I think I’ve experienced enough of the game to do one (that might well be months after buying it, and weeks at least).