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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Racing in circles?

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EA SPORTS F1 24
Rating: 3.5/5
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: EA
Platform: PC, XB, PS
Price: Rs 4,999

F1 has had some of the most exciting races this season, with various winners and no one team dominating the tracks like it did in the past. The sport is better for it. With that said, I wonder if Codemasters and EA can capitalise on this buzz and present a game that is worthy of being the official F1 game for 2024 or will this be yet another product of EA’s factory?

The latest game has some significant changes in several key areas. The most important change is in career mode. While it lacks a story mode to complement it, the career mode now lets you play as current F1 and F2 drivers, as well as some legendary ones like Michael Schumacher. Driver ratings also change dynamically based on skill; improvements in rating come with perks that, in turn, change how you play the game. They have also included new mid-game challenges, which feel tedious to perform with no real payoff.

The cars’ handling has also been tweaked a bit; they are much easier to handle, and while some people may complain about this, I very much appreciate not spinning at the end of each corner while my competitors get ahead. The skills of the AI opponents can also now be tweaked to your preference, and even in the easiest mode, they offer enough motivation and challenge to keep every turn interesting.

EA SPORTS F1 24 is also the best-looking game in the series. The drivers, cars, and environment have been significantly updated. The tracks are also more accurate and represent their real-life versions well. Audio has been given a boost as well. The sounds of the car and overall soundscape improve the immersion. However, the commentary is repetitive, even though it sounds better than in previous game versions.

That said, players of the previous game will find these improvements only incremental, as the overall game hasn’t changed much, and the various modes, like F1 World, feel like a rehash of last year. I would like to see some more work on the crash physics and damage to the cars as well; while driving at such high speeds, I expect significant things to happen when I crash into another car.

Also, I don’t particularly appreciate how EA tries to squeeze money out of you when the game costs so much. There are lots of places where the game asks for money for some favours. This is a game that costs R4,999. Spending that much for an incremental update is already a big favour that EA owes the gamer; we don’t want to pay for more.

One thing I appreciate is cross-play and the option to opt in or out of it. While some argue that cross-play is not fair, I would like to play with a friend who plays this game on PC or PS5. The option to choose what you prefer is a nice touch.

While Codemasters has done a good job with F1 2024, the game feels like a standard EA factory franchise. Small improvements and tweaks to a game that has mostly stayed the same where it matters. So, if you have the 2023 version of the game, I would say wait for it to get discounted before you pick it up, and if you don’t own a copy of F1 from last year, this is a good investment if you like F1 and racing simulations.


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