The greatest motorsport on earth has seen somewhat of a revival in recent years as a result of the dynamic approach of the sport’s new owners to marketing, but more to the point, thanks to Netflix’s incredible Drive to Survive series. Despite years of dominance by Mercedes and living GOAT Lewis Hamilton, the sport has seen a rapid rise in popularity. It comes as no surprise then that Codemasters' latest entry into their long running franchise taps into what makes F1 so interesting to some: the human element.
Right off the bat, F1 2021’s most touted feature is its new story mode, Braking Point. Having recently been acquired by EA, Codemasters has set its sights on a single player deep dive into the drama and personality that F1 has become so widely known for. Braking Point draws inspiration from the likes of FIFA’s The Journey with a good degree of success. Players take the roles of two teammates; Aiden Jackson, a fresh off the boat rookie looking to stamp his name into the history books; and Casper Akkerman, a legend of the sport in his twilight years. You’ll have the choice of picking their team, of which all are back markers, so Alpha Tauri, Williams, Haas or Alfa Romeo. Whichever team you pick, the existing roster drivers will be unseated for the course of the story. However, the rest of the grid remains and will even feature in the occasional cutscene.
As the story rolls out you will be harnessed in with either of the two main characters as specific scenarios play out. Both Aiden and Casper are well realized and believable personalities, with Aiden’s character similar to that of a George Russel or Alex Albon, while Casper is akin to an Alonso or Raikonnen. Braking Point also sees the return of the loathed Devin Butler from F1 2019 and his weaselly little face and snarky character make him a memorable antagonist for the story.
Throughout the fairly lengthy campaign you’ll be tasked with chatting to the press post-race and even loved ones that feature as side characters, further building on the ‘behind the scenes’ angle that Codemasters are striving to replicate. This is done well, there are some great and believable moments that had me addicted to the journey these two drivers were on and eager to play out their story to the finish line.
Unfortunately, Braking Point does suffer from a few very scripted events which you have no control over, but it’s par for the course. On many occasions I was tasked with finishing in the top 10 and even exceeded this by making it to the podium, however the cutscene following made no mention of my achievement which detracted from the hard work. The roughly 6-hour campaign is still incredibly well-executed, even though it makes no mention of the ongoing disruptions to global sports with the pandemic which directly impacted the 2020 season. It’s a great starting point for future installments of the game and I for one am eager to see what Codemasters brew up for the next season.
The roughly 6-hour campaign is still incredibly well-executed...
An overhauled damage model also makes its debut to great effect...
One tablespoon Star Wars, a dollop of motorsport, a splash of Metal Gear. And a pinch of space magic. Mix and blend. Smashing! Is also running for congress.
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PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series
14 July 2021
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