F1 2011 graces the Vita launch line up, but does it hit the track flying, or does this handheld iteration cut corners to make launch.
F1 2011 on Vita does a great job of bringing the F1 experience to Vita, much like the same series brought it to consoles and PC last year. You wont be confusing the Vita and PS3 versions of the game with each other,but F1 2011 certainly holds its own on Vita.
I loved F1 2011 last year when it launched, it was easily on my top games of the year, so when I heard it was coming to Vita I was worried at first, but once you get your hands on the portable take on F1 2011 you quickly realise that the experience hasn’t lost much in its travels to the handheld. including 3 full seasons of F1 action, from Practice to race day, its truly is F1. The changing weather mid race still throws a spanner in the works and can through a strategy out the window.
2011 brought changes to the F1 rule book such as KERS and DRS, for those not down with F1 lingo KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) which gives your car a quick boost of power down the straights or to help recover from a tricky corner, and Drag Reducing System which rules permitting allow your car to loss downforce allowing you to gain a greater top speed. These two elements, along with the inclusion of the pirelli tires can make for some great races and outstanding break neck over taking manoeuvres, and using these elements correctly can make the difference between a points finish and finishing without.
One gameplay feature added to the Vita is challenge modes. These can task you with over taking in a set amount of laps and slaloms. A lot of these can be great fast paced action, good to drop in. The completion of a series of challenges will lead to a bonus event. One of these that stands out and has been talked about is a challenge that tasks you with keeping your position on a wet track. The kicker however is you are on dry tyres while the rest of the field is chasing you down on wets. These events a great and really do fit well on a handheld, the style of pick up and play challenges works.
One of the features that made F1 2011 on the home consoles so rewarding was the “Live the Life” career mode, allowing you to jump into the shoes of an F1 driver and really feel like your taking on the likes of Hamilton and Vitel. F1 2011 Vita sadly does not include the “Live the Life” mode, instead using a standard Gran Prix Career mode.
Another change to the Career mode is the hub, this time around its replaced with a simple menu system. Knowing what you had in the console release you might feel a bit let down with this simpler menu style, but with out the ” Live the Life” the trailer style menu makes less sense. Its certainly not as pretty, but it does function well. Its all controlled via the buttons so navigating it is simple and clean.
You will spend most of your time when not racing in these menus. Accepting team trials for a new season and checking news on your laptop. Using your calender to see what you next race is as well as checking the standings and going to your next race. Its a style that fits on a handheld well, what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in ease of use.
The thing that clearly makes or breaks any racing game is how it drives. F1 2011 on consoles was an amazing game in this department. F1 2011 on Vita is still great, though it feels a lot more forgiving. I don’t think this is a bad thing. After all its a launch title for a handheld, so you may not want such a realistic experience on the go, but that’s not to say its not fun. After all F1 2011 is a game, and fun is the name of the game. The game will still punish you for hitting a corner to hard, or using your fellow drivers as breaks.
AI in racing games can be an issue, the AI are not perfect but they will make mistakes and fight for position, but can sometimes seem glued to the track, rarely making any sort of dangerous moves instead tending to let you take their position.
Online is in present in F1 2011 on Vita, with both Online and Ad Hoc. But only 4 player races are present in both of these modes. Its a shame when the online on Ps3 was so great, but with a new platform comes testing its limits. Here’s hoping with a 2012 iteration of the series we can see features like online improved.
Graphically the game does a job of presenting the cars and track well. The overall look of the game is great for a handheld, its certainly not the worst Vita game but its not the best either. It could be forgiven because its a launch title, as with Online we can hope to see a huge improvement in the next game. Much like we did with F1 2010 and F1 2011.
The tracks look great and look the same as on the console version, but like with the cars is in the detail that F1 2011 Vita loses some of its gloss. The graphics function well, but their is a part of me that feels it was a PSP game brought over to Vita.
However, as I said before, in a game like this gameplay rules, and F1 2011 certainly does what you would expect from a racing game on the go, its not going to blow you away graphically, but it will certainly keep you going in the build up to the new Formula 1 season.
F1 2011 Vita is a great game for a launch title, it certainly a good sign of what can be done as far as racing games on Vita, here’s hoping F1 2012 can make a big impact if it comes to Vita in the near future. Its a game let down by its graphics, but saved by its gameplay. For a launch title, F1 2011 is a perfect fit for F1 fans.
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