F1 2011 Super Review

  • Way better handling than last year
  • As deep or arcadey as you want it
  • Superb split-screen mode
  • Racing a car that doesn't have KERS
  • Needless waiting to race online
  • It's hard to find the perfect difficulty

The little things:

In the end, it's the little details and moments that make F1 2011 better than last year's game. The 'marbles' of worn-off rubber that start to litter the track off the racing line are visible from the cockpit and stick to your hot tyres, tangibly affecting your grip for the next corner or two. 

Above: The game stops short of making you drive through marbles on a slow-down lap. Shame

You can also change the fuel mix (like a turbo… kinda) if you think you've got enough left in the tank to allow it. I even ran out of fuel on the last corner of a particularly hot lap during Silverstone qualifying to miss out on Q2 by a few thousandths of a second. And being told over the radio that there's a problem with DRS cements the fact that the new failures system works, but I've got to ask - who the hell would want less downforce at Monaco anyway?!

Finally, the new post-race cut-scenes are a really nice touch, showing you the same celebrations from different perspectives, based on where you finished. And the 'fail' cut-scene where the mechanic puts his hand over the camera is awesome.

Above: Move along, nothing to see here. Just an epic failure and probably some tears too

However, the presentation overall is still slightly lacking. This whole 'live the life' idea is still missing a podium scene, presumably because driver likenesses haven't been put into the game properly. Everyone keeps their helmets on in the post-race Parc Ferme celebrations, which is pretty telling. And, while the press interviews are slightly improved, Codies still can't do convincing humans. At least zombie girl is gone from your trailer – she was awful last year.

Oh dear, Oh dear!

So are there any major bad points? The difficulty balancing comes to mind. I spent so much of my time driving defensively on Hard, I was a Senna-esque expert on making my car as wide as possible come the midway point in the season. It does start to grate, especially when the Professional handling mode is so damn thrilling. I do want to be fighting the car this much, but while on someone's gearbox at the same time. Playing with the assists on just isn't the same. You'll find a balance eventually, but expect it to take time.

Also, the damage system doesn't actually seem to be significantly ramped up over last year's game. Cars still seem a little more robust than they should be, although back wings do break more easily now. 

Above: Hard to imagine this being 'understated', but look at how undamaged Hamilton's McLaren is

Even losing your front wing on the back of another car is less frequent thanks to some forgiving low-level knocks, which couples with the new penalty system. This gives you more leeway and fairness in minor scuffles, but harsher punishment for being a twat.

Like its stablemate DiRT 3, F1 2011's off-track presentation is a little lacking. But unlike DiRT 3, the on-track atmosphere is never dreary. In fact, wet-weather races are some of the most spectacular in the game, with gorgeously reflective wet tarmac and sensational spray effects... at least when the camera lens is clear enough to see them.

Above: We can see this much and the next turn is Eau Rouge? Who's idea was it to do this?

F1 2011 is an absolute triumph on the track. The new KERS and DRS systems give you welcome extra tactical ammunition and the new improved handling is beautifully weighted. Every corner feels like a challenge to be won, and with 19 tracks to race on, that makes for an almighty swathe of quality content. Get it, love it – and give each track the time and attention it deserves. It'll love you right back.

Is it better than:

F1 2010? Yes. The weather system is better, the graphics are better, the damage is (slightly) better, the cars have suspension and therefore better handling. The 2010 version is still brilliant, though, and the lack of KERS and DRS doesn't hurt it dramatically. So if you already own it or see it for much less than the new version, you'll probably enjoy it just as much. But really, you should be playing the new one.

DiRT 3? Yes. The EGO engine is looking just as impressive here, especially when it's throwing around 24 cars and all of Monaco's buildings at 30fps, but despite F1 2011's slightly disappointing presentation, it still feels like more of a big event come race day. DiRT 3's a bit more graphically spectacular, but it has less to do.

Gran Turismo 5? Yes. Notice how nobody's talking about Gran Turismo 5 any more? That's cos it's not as good as other modern racing games. I would say I told you so, but, well, I told you so. Simulation-wise, I suppose the driving in Gran Turismo runs at more frames per second so is technically more precise, but it's incredibly dull. F1 2011 is not.

Just for you, Metacritic!

Every major issue in F1 2010 has been addressed, making an already great game even better. We'd still like to 'live the life' a bit more off the track, but in terms of racing, it's just an absolute blast, whichever skill level you approach it from.

16 Sep, 2011

More Info

Sep 23 2011 - PC, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Racing
Justin Towell

The longest-serving GR+ staffer, I was here when all this was just fields. I'm currently in charge of reviews but still find time to make daft Photoshop stories and try to explain why there need to be more arcade racing games.


review Super

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  • CharlieFockstrot - September 28, 2011 2:35 p.m.

    Hey Justin, How does this game run on PS3?? No mention in the review, Does it look worse than F1 2010 in terms of frame rate and resolution?? With your ever critical 'robot eyes' you should be able judge the frame rate. Thanks.
  • GR_JustinTowell - February 21, 2012 6:17 a.m.

    Hi Charlie - probably a bit late now, but the PS3 version is markedly inferior to the 360 version. Frame rate is much less stable, anti-aliasing is turned down and there's a weird colour banding issue that's particularly evident on the cars' wheels. Hope that helps :)
  • SparkyBobOmb - September 27, 2011 2:05 a.m.

    I havent played an F1 game since the N64. This one just blows everything away period! Your forgot the portion of the review about how good the music soundtrack is. :D
  • Thigpen - September 20, 2011 1:01 p.m.

    | Above: Your life flashes before your eyes and you realise none of it was rendered quite as nicely as that wheel No really, LOL Thanks for the great writing.
  • yfbc - September 18, 2011 2:54 a.m.

    Already pre-loaded on steam, can't wait to go through au rouge with DRS on lol!
  • ThatGamerDude - September 16, 2011 3:42 p.m.

    Another game to add on to my list of games I want. Great review.
  • Robx - September 16, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    Yo, watch it Justin! Maldonado's family here! But you do know what you are doing, and this definitely motivates me to pick the game now, outstanding review there bro, thanks.
  • Tispower - September 16, 2011 9:45 a.m.

    To be fair, Gran Turismo 5 is the 3rd best selling driving game on Amazon behind Dirt 3 and F1 2011. Not bad for game that's nearly a year old now. Gamesradar might not like it, but now they've fixed a lot of bugs and added more features, it seems everyone else still thinks it's fun.
  • d0x - September 23, 2011 5:30 p.m.

    GT5 may be high selling but that doesnt mean its any good. It sells on Name and fanboyism alone. I bought GT5:P and GT5 when it was released. I was hardcore into that series but the lack of features and the half a**ed nature of the game design cant be fixed with a million patches and updates. Sony dropped the ball big time and everyone deep down knows it.
  • Channel4 - September 16, 2011 9:18 a.m.

    Sounds brilliant. However a few things annoyed me about 2010. The ai even on the hardest difficulty drove a good three or four seconds slower in qualifying than they would in real life. Meant that in any car better than the new teams you could get pole by just getting the car round the track. Also at the start of the race the ai always caught me into the first corner even in the Mclaren or Ferrari. Is it any different in the new one?
  • n00b - September 16, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    i think I'll stick to dirt all this technical car talk got me intimidated
  • CheesySuperman - September 16, 2011 8:29 a.m.

    great review! like someone else said, it really makes a difference to have someone who knows the sport well to write the review. good job!
  • DannyMB - September 16, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    Great review Justin, it really makes a difference having someone who really knows F1 reviewing this game. I might just fork out the extra cash now, I was holding back for skyrim, arkham etc, but its been ages since ive had a good driving game, ive played forza to death.
  • McGarnagle - September 16, 2011 8:22 a.m.

    I second this. Just being a fan of the sport allows for a much better review.
  • defaultNoob - September 16, 2011 7:52 a.m.

    I like your perspective on the game, however, KERS wasn't banned in 2010 teams made an agreement to not use it. :)
  • TheCubeIsHungry - September 16, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    Great review. Justin, which view do you use? I find using the driver's view makes is a lot harder to see the apex of the corner etc. Also In the last paragraph you spelt DRS As DRM. I am so excited about this game now, as a huge F1 fan this is a must have. Oh, also loved the Maldonado Joke!
  • GR_JustinTowell - September 16, 2011 10:20 a.m.

    Fixed! And it's TV Pod view all the way. You can feel the car, but it's elevated enough to see the track :)
  • Hobogonigal - September 16, 2011 7:31 a.m.

    Great review. You actually made me excited towards this game when I wasn't even considering it before!