Not in the same league as its console brethren, but still a good indication of what we can expect from future Vita racing games
For our most up-to-date PS Vita news and coverage, make sure to check out our Vita News Hub.
Fans of the world’s most expensive sport have been spoiled over the past two years, with a fantastic resurgence in simulation games that seek to replicate the driving experience in the comfort of your own home. F1 2010, and its sequel F1 2011, were both fantastic racing games that perfectly captured the F1 season by putting you in the shoes of a driver, rather than controlling a faceless set of hands behind a wheel. Now Codemasters has made the experience portable by squeezing the game onto Sony’s new handheld.
The Vita version of F1 2011 manages to bring most of the features from the console version, including instant action races, time trials, full Grand Prix races with practice and qualifying, and a three-season career mode that covers 60 full races. All the drivers and cars from the 2011 season are present and correct, as are wet weather effects and pit crews, although the graphics have understandably seen a reduction in fidelity compared to the Xbox and PS3 versions.
There’s also a new challenge mode, which is well suited to the Vita’s pick up and play style. Each event focuses on a single skill, such as overtaking or reaching a series of checkpoints within a time limit, with a bonus event at the end of each series. These are where the real challenge lies, throwing multiple challenges in your path to the finish line. Getting dropped into the final lap of a wet race with slick tyres and tasked with fending off rivals on wets is genuinely exciting, as well as unbelievably difficult.
It would have been nice if the scoring system was a little more transparent, as the rank awarded at the end of each challenge seems a little arbitrary. There’s no way to tell how far off the mark you were from the next rank, so it’s difficult to know if a mere millisecond improvement will net you a better score.
Because the Vita doesn’t have any analog buttons, there’s no way to feather the throttle or brakes in the same way you could with a controller – and the developer has adjusted the handling in repsonse. Now things are a lot more forgiving, so leaving the track doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your race. This is fine for beginners, but it would have been nice to see an option to adjust the amount of assistance to add a little more challenge. That’s not to say there’s no way to tweak your car – with access to both KERS and DRS, the option to disable the comprehensive list of driver aides and increase the AI difficulty of your rivals, racing game veterans will still find plenty of opportunity to test their skill.