F1 2021 Review: The Total Racing Package

EA's popular F1 racing game franchise has returned for a brand new installment in 2021, and its [...]

EA's popular F1 racing game franchise has returned for a brand new installment in 2021, and its launch couldn't come at a better time. The recent release of next-gen consoles gives the series the chance to utilize better technology than ever before. Meanwhile, Formula 1 has exploded in popularity over the past couple of years, particularly here in the United States, thanks in part to the Drive to Survive series on Netflix. All that to say, there seems to be more pressure on the F1 game this year than with past installments, but F1 2021 is up to the task. This is a great new entry to the series and easily one of the most realistic racing games on the market.

F1 2021 doesn't need a whole lot of explanation. It's a racing game based on the popular real-life sport of Formula 1, where players head to some of the most iconic racetracks around the world to compete in various events. The tracks are known to be difficult to navigate, which makes watching the sport incredibly entertaining, and virtually racing in it a bit challenging.

This game doesn't shy away from the tricky aspects of Formula 1 racing — it embraces them. Utilizing your brakes and steering to navigate the tracks effectively takes a bit of practice, especially if other racing games have taught you to go full speed ahead as often as possible. Fortunately, while there is a learning curve, F1 2021 has a multitude of customizable difficulty settings that allow you to truly put the game at your level. Nearly everything can be adjusted, not to make you win each and every race, but to make it so that you're consistently having fun instead of just getting frustrated.

F1 2021 is a game designed for everyone to enjoy, and not just because it has a wide variety of settings. This new F1 installment is seriously innovative for a sports game when it comes to new game modes. Every racing game has a pretty standard career mode, but F1 2021 takes things a couple of steps further.

The Braking Point mode in F1 2021 is a narrative story filled with different characters and plot lines, spanning the course of a couple of Formula 1 seasons. Everything you do fits into the narrative, and the game doesn't let you perform poorly and continue on to the next event, ignoring a bad outing like other sports franchise modes tend to do. Each race comes with an objective you have to complete before moving on. The story itself is engaging and interesting, setting up characters and relationships that keep you invested from start to finish. It's also worth noting that Braking Point dives into the nitty-gritty of racing, and doesn't get hung up on solely winning a championship. Winning doesn't look the same for everyone in motorsports, and it's awesome that Braking Point puts an emphasis on that. It could be a little longer, but the ending leaves plenty of room for potential continuations via DLC.

In addition to Braking Point, F1 2021 also has a standalone career mode that lines up with other games. You create a driver, try to earn a spot on a team, and build yourself up to become the best, eventually. What makes this interesting is that it comes with a two-player career option, so you can run through the gauntlet of Formula 1 with a friend, choosing to become teammates or adversaries as your careers move forward.

Complementing all of the unique gameplay options is the utilization of tools and features that come from being on next-gen consoles. The visuals are absolutely stunning. Each and every track is realistic, from the mountainsides down to the grit of the asphalt. The cars look smooth as the wind around the various courses, moving as they would if you were just watching a race on TV. And the PS5's DualShock 5 controllers add yet another layer, causing the different terrains to feel unique as your tires roll over them. The triggers work far more like gas and brake pedals than in years past, as the pressure you apply really makes a ton of difference.

This is about as realistic as you can get for a console racing game, but don't let that intimidate you. F1 2021 is the total package, a Day 1 purchase for racing fans that is sure to win over newcomers with ease.

Rating: 4 out of 5

F1 2021 will release on July 16th for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. A digital review code was provided by the publisher, and it was reviewed on a PlayStation 5.