F1 2011 (3DS)

Game Review

F1 2011 Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mark Reece

Not in pole position

Codemasters has a rich heritage in racing games and over the last 20 years has produced cracking examples of virtual car racing from just about every discipline. Whether it be off-road and rally in its Colin McRae and DiRT series, more track-based events in TOCA and GRID or even the art of pitting minuscule vehicles against one another across kitchen worktops in Micro Machines, Codemasters has tried its hand at them all and rarely faltered. However, it was only recently that it managed to secure the illustrious Formula 1 licence — an event that many thought would go hand in hand with Codemasters’ dedication to the simulation of anything on four wheels — and expectations were understandably high.

F1 2011 marks the series’ first outing on the 3DS, with the development reins being handed over to Sumo Digital. This is the team behind the Wii’s F1 2009 and the surprisingly great Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, and thus F1 2011 seemed to be in safe hands. But while Sumo indeed earned its stripes twice over in the development of two vastly different types of racing game, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong here. This really is a crying shame: Sumo clearly intended F1 2011 to provide a genuine handheld alternative to the home console versions of the game, and that ambition certainly shines through in the sheer wealth of driving options available.

In the same vein as Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport series, F1 2011 presents players with a number of driving aids that can be tinkered with, letting you mould the game’s difficulty to your liking. Less skilled players can opt to take advantage of things like predictive breaking, anti-skid, steering assist and a racing line, which shows players the optimum line through corners and changes from green to red when you need to lower your speed.

Of course, accomplished drivers can choose to ignore these assists as well as activate options, like car damage and on-track elements such as penalties, for a more simulative affair. Serious racers will find the game further bolstered by the ability to tweak your car’s performance by adjusting its aerodynamics, along with the pressure and compound of its tyres before each race, so seasoned F1 game veterans will have all the tools necessary to fully optimise their car’s performance for each and every circuit.

Once you’ve found the right combination of assists and tailored the handling of the cars to your tastes, F1 2011 can be pretty fun; the game has a palpable sense of speed coupled with a steady frame rate and is really quite exhilarating at times, especially if you switch to the in-car view. Unfortunately, everything comes to a halt faster than Gerhard Berger in 1989 once you add AI-controlled opponents into the mix. This unpredictable lot boasts artificial intelligence so utterly random that they make racing around F1 2011’s nineteen circuits an absolute nightmare. AI fluctuates wildly between displaying why-bother-to-turn-on-corners levels of stupidity and the kind of aggression that would have all but the most road rage-prone drivers slamming their foot down in a bid to escape. Very rarely is a clean overtake ever shown any consideration; rather, your fellow drivers are frequently quite content to ram into you from behind, clip your back wheels so that you spin out or even sandwich you in between themselves and another driver.

When F1 drivers are careening around Silverstone at over 200mph, manoeuvres such as those mentioned above would prove to be tantamount to their success. Have you ever seen what can happen when a F1 car is clipped even slightly at those kinds of speeds? It never ends well and it’s never pretty. The sporadic AI on display in F1 2011 demolishes any chance it had of even coming close to providing an authentic F1 experience. Doing your utmost to stick to the racing line, postponing overtaking until a safe opportunity presents itself and exhibiting any kind of driving aptitude only to find yourself subjected to an army of brain-dead morons who shunt you around the track like a pinball isn’t entertaining in the slightest. It’s frustrating and it completely undermines the nature of the sport.

Should you be able to overlook this major flaw, F1 2011 at least has a lot to keep you occupied. You can partake in quick races, Grand Prix events composed of qualifying and practice sessions followed by the race itself, or you can play through an entire season’s Championship or — for the truly self-loathing among you — Career tasks you with plodding through three whole seasons’ worth of races, accepting new contracts and such as you progress from a nobody to the next big face of F1. In truth, none of these options provide much entertainment due to the terrible artificial intelligence clipping you at any opportunity.

Luckily, Time Trials exist to give you a bittersweet taste of what might have been as you blast around your choice of circuit without the danger of being pounced upon by the cast of Wacky Races. Additionally, Challenges — checkpoint runs, slalom races, etc — can also be quite enjoyable as well, provided they’re not being ruined by such poor design decisions as moving checkpoints and massive triangular signs in the place of cones.

F1 2011 is, to top off its laundry list of failings, an unsightly beast of a game, with barely textured environments and cars that resemble something your dad would bodge together for the under-tens pedal-kart championship. Matters worsen when you switch on the 3D effect and the aforementioned steady frame rate starts going up and down like a yo-yo, especially when there are too many cars on-screen. The game’s one saving grace is multiplayer, which is available both locally and online and helps it provide at least some semblance of a decent depiction of F1 racing, provided you’re going up against like-minded players. Although, we wish you the very best of luck finding anyone to race with online — for three days we tried on numerous occasions to access the game’s online multiplayer but no matter what time of day we tried, we just couldn’t find anyone else actually playing it.


While the 3DS already has arcade racing fans catered for with the likable Ridge Racer 3D and the utterly sublime Mario Kart 7, the handheld is yet to see a title that racing simulation enthusiasts can really get excited about. While its ambition should surely be commended and the time trials and multiplayer admittedly soften the blow somewhat, F1 2011 is, unfortunately, not the game to remedy matters. Unless you’re a fan of frustrating ugly racers with brutally unrealistic and aggressive opponent AI, we advise that you steer well clear of it. Maybe next year, Codemasters will release the game that F1 fans deserve.

From the web

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User Comments (35)



Itsa said:

This is developed by the same team that did Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing? If so, why has the quality of racing been downgraded?



BalrogtheMaster said:

WOW, this is an extremely harsh review. It's not as good as MK7 or RR3D but it deserved at least a 6. Seriously, you've destroyed the metascore.




Hmmm. I read other revws from other reliable revwrs and they were more complimentary. Sounds harsh put you've played and I haven't. Well written revw, thank you.



Mr_Reece said:

@BalrogtheMaster As I said, the bumper car AI ruins this game. If this had been an arcade racer, this would have been more tolerable, but not here. Have you ever been watching F1 and seen 20+ drivers all ramming into each other and trying to clip each others' wheels?



Etherkon said:

I think it's a good game. AI has it's problems but most of the time it can give a fair challenge. There's also lots to do and the controls are good.
So in my opinion the grade is too harsh.



Acebobbyskill said:

There's a spelling mestake in the second paragraph. It says 'thus' when it should say 'this'. Anyway i think that reveiw was abit harsh but the AI thing is a load of crap so im wating for nexts years F1 maby!! ϋϋ



Edgy said:

Nice to see an honest review that doesn't pander to the gaming corporations and instead gives us a real idea as to what we could be playing. Shame the licence has been taken for granted by the developer on the 3DS



Gene said:

The same guys made F1 2009 for Wii which was ok. 3DS version looks really ugly and AI drivers act terrible...



Bankai said:

How could someone not know of the existance of "thus" as a real word? I dispair for modern education.

On topic - great review there, saved me from buying a game I was actually really looking forward to. Thanks for that



Edgy said:

I despair when someone makes epic fails trying to incorrectly correct someone thusly



Pj1 said:

I'm staying clear of this one, I did read a review that was OK but if it's anything like the pathetic attempt on the wii then this version can't be any better. Might see if my local blockbuster has it to rent befor I even consider buying it.



Slapshot said:

Thanks for the honest review Mark!

It's such a shame that a great developer would drop such a poor game on us - especially with a F1 License. I really had high aspirations for this title, but it's now on my list of 3DS games to overlook.



1wiierdguy said:

You can tell straight away this was developed by Sumo Digital. The handling has that same feel as F1 2009 on Wii and Psp. You can definatley find and settle into a good groove once you learn a track. I have also yet to find a single multiplayer game. Dissapointing as racing against real opponents could make up for the dreadful AI somewhat.




Actually I see your point. Its very important not to get the AI wrong on something like a F1 sim considering the source material and the resultant physics!



Grackler said:

I'm glad you did this review, I was sorely tempted, but concerned that it might (despite looking good in trailers) be lacking after so little coverage or reviews anywhere. Bad AI utterly ruined F1 2010 for me, so anything worse would be unbearable. A great shame! Oh well...* goes back to Mario Kart 7 *



Ducutzu said:

I'm not a big F1 fan, but I do like the 3DS and I have so far about twelve retail games, which I enjoyed a lot. However, this game was a disappointment for me. As the reviewer says, the AI can often be terribly aggressive and run into you when you least expect it. Moreover, the graphics are bad. Somebody getting this as their first 3DS game must know that the 3DS can do much better.



Mykhael said:

-Thus the anti-Nintendo, realistic racing game conspiracy drags on...
(ever since GameCube)

•sighs, & plays F1 2002 on his GCN•



Mr_Reece said:

I wouldn't worry about it. Every console has a few gems hidden within a sea of crap in their first year. After that, third party developers tend to get a better grip on the hardware and the good/bad game ratio evens out a bit.



jerryo said:

i was thinking of getting this one! i really was ready to buy it.. but i know why they kept the screenshots and in game videos out of sight until it came out.

looks really sad, nothing like what 3DS can do.. and if it plays as bad as it looks.. i think i made the right choice to pass...



1wiierdguy said:

Managed to find a few online games. They ran smoothly mostly. Would like to meet up with more people online.



SyFyTy said:

I bought this and...I agree , the grade is too harsh. I really like the graphics, the 3d looks nice on this one, I also like the options. The AI does not always respond as he described, it does switch up and play nice at times but frequently he's right. All that said, it is the best racer on a handheld (IMO) (excepting PSP Ridge Racer) I've tried all the 3d racers and didn't care for RR on the 3ds, at best I felt it was ok. I thought psp's older RR were better, and I'm a N fan for sure. of course MK is MK. That said I would still buy the next version (again) should they fix it. This had serious potential.



thanos316 said:

i got this game recently and just came on here to check out the review of this game. its kind of harsh to give it a 4. the speed in the game is crazy, the detail is great to me, i don't know what more you can expect from a racing game on the 3ds. you can tinker with the setup anyhow you like. okay maybe the AI in the game isnt that great, but in F1 racers rarely pull over and let another racer by unless they are told to do so. And i watch f1 and trust me they are many incidents on turn 1 the first lap of the race. but i would give this game an 8 for it being its first outing on the 3ds. and people shouldnt judge a game if they haven't played it for themselves..



ivanmata said:

I've played the game for two months now, I don't think it deserves a 4, it's more like a 7, due to the same AI problem, perhaps I'm giving it a higher score because I'm an f1 fan, I enjoy it.

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