F1 2011 – Marginal Improvements over F1 2010?

The early F1 2011 reviews are mostly positive, which is to be expected based on F1 2010 being well received.

It is interesting reading TheSixthAxis reviewer’s take on the game. Before the summary, the reviewer discusses new F1 technical ‘innovations’ that are included in F1 2011 (KERS and DRS), but also mentions that casual gamers are not likely to notice. I would go so far as to say that casual gamers should stay pretty away from this title and go after a more mainstream racer.

Now the tricky part – is F1 2011 worth picking up if you already own 2010? That’s a question that only the individual can really answer – there’s certainly a good, extensive and solid game here but then a good chunk of it is clearly based on last year’s code and visuals, even most of the menu interface remains the same. The improvements are all for the better – that’s for sure – but perhaps we’d have liked to have seen more of them. Anyone that bypassed 2010 and held out for this years can relax easy, though, this is probably the best Formula One game we’ve seen for years.

An improved AI, along with the addition of offline split screen and co-op Championship mode have me pretty excited.

Eurogamer has a remarkably similar take on the marginal year-over-year improvements in Codemasters F1 franchise.

Now comes the tricky third test; can it do enough to establish a yearly franchise, an exercise that’s normally the reserve of publishers with a little more clout?

F1 2011’s answer to that particular question is, sometimes, not too convincing. Some areas remain sparse and many of its improvements can be measured in tenths rather than seconds. Still, it’s a sport where every little detail counts, and the finite changes do undoubtedly make for a better game.

Now I just have to decide if I attempt to whore any of the many remaining Trophies in F1 2010, or if I call it a loss, flip it on eBay while the flipping still has marginal value, and see if I can stay focused on F1 2011. Last year I lost interest – really don’t know the reason why because I gushed about it during the first few weeks after it was released. At least I didn’t play F1 2010 half as much as Sony’s last F1 outing (Formula One: Championship Edition).


September Gaming Closeout

The ridiculousness continues. Next week (Sep 20) sees the release of F1 2011, while the following week (Sep 27) gives us FIFA 12, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, and Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny, and Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland.

F1 2011
I’ll be honest; I love F1 games, but I didn’t really get enough out of 2010. No particular reason other than I suck or something. F1 2011 looks to be the perfect F1 gaming experience:

After watching the promo videos all these months I had the feeling that F1 2011 will be strictly for the hardcore, people who are gamers and who also follow F1 races every year. After playing a solid 2 hours with the preview build I believe that this game will only attract fans, resulting in to low accessibility.

Let’s hope that there are enough F1 fans who appreciate racing sims to support F1 2011 and continue to push the series forward.

One of the top sports franchises; the Madden development team could learn a thing or two from the FIFA guys. I cannot say enough good things about this series – tons of replay value; I played the snot out of FIFA 10 and to some extent FIFA 11. The newest yearly release should not be any different. Platinum be damned; I’ll never get it due to the various online requires.

Thanks to Amazon, this one comes with a nice $20 credit, some sort of MLS Fathead (for the kids) and of course release day delivery.

ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection
I’ve written about this one a little over the last couple of months, so I am not going to go very deep here. I’ll just say that I have had this one on pre-order since Thanksgiving last year, so I am eagerly anticipating giving both of these classics a go.

Another Amazon release day arrival. I expect this one to go to the top of the play heap; let’s see if that actually happens.

Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny
In a weak moment, I pre-ordered this one site unseen. Mostly for the Move support, partly out of curiosity, and ultimately because I probably had one too many cold ones that night, which resulted in an Amazon clicking frenzy.

Tides of Destiny is coming out later this year in North America for the PlayStation 3 and Wii, which isn’t a combination of release platforms you see very often. I’m not complaining, especially when the PlayStation 3 version ends up looking this pretty. I can’t wait to buy this game, play it for a few hours, get bored, and move on to other things!

Replace bored with distracted and that will be me. Too many other gems in my gaming treasure trove waiting to be caressed and loved, and whored for Trophies.

Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland
Of course I had to get the ‘Premium’ version bundle complete with art book and CD soundtrack. This one has niche written all over it, but I expect Atelier Totori to be fun based on my typical enjoyment of quirky games and deep down love for JRPGs.

Unfortunately I’m usually constrained with limited clock cycles to burn on gaming, which means that I may not get around to this one for a while. I did promise myself (sort of) that I would attempt Atelier Totori’s predecessor first, Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland. Will it happen? That’s another article. Seriously, tackling a JRPG is an upcoming article.

The one thing nice about JRPGs, is that historically I have always been able to get my money back from any expensive collector’s edition should I decide to sell them down the road. For that matter, I can usually get my money back from regular editions. That is the beauty of niche gaming; of course you have to pre-order these games or you are the one paying a premium over MSRP.

Happy Saturday!


Two Down, One (OK, Make It Two) To Go

Could you ask for a better day of racing? Monaco was fantastic; would Alonso have managed a pass on Vettel if the red flag didn’t come out? Can you imagine how long JR Hilderbrand is going to think about doing things differently in turn 4 at Indy?

As the hotter than heck day turns to night, I hope Jeff Gordon stop the Carl Edwards train in tonight’s 600?

And what’s that you say? Still some burgers in the fridge for tomorrow’s Grand-Am race at Lime Rock? You bet; and another round of wings to boot.

Happy racing weekend!


Spectacular Day of Racing

I kicked off the weekend with a slow cooked Boston Butt Roast; I am biased, but it was fantastically delicious. Watched some of the Nationwide action to see what the Ice Man would do. He was doing OK until a little over midway in the race he was penalized with a drive through penalty for leaving the pits too fast.

Quick digression; I also watched some Dawgs baseball. They managed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament by virtue of a decent run with wins over the Fighting Chickens and Gators. Too bad they could not manage a second win against the Gators in the elimination bracket. Georgia’s record may look flimsy, but when you look at their quality schedule, I hope they get consideration for the Tournament.

In a few minutes it’s onwards to Monaco, followed by some Indy 500 action and eventually some 600 miles NASCAR racing action well into the night. It is too much to take. I think throwing some wings on the grill and a cooler full of High Life and Miller Lite will just have to help me carry the day.


Memorial Day Racing

I love kicking off summer with the Monaco GP, Indy 500, and 600 laps of NASCAR; all in one Sunday of back-to-back-to-back racing action. I’ll throw a Boston Butt Roast on the grill on Saturday, and grill a boatload of wings on Sunday between F1 and Indy racing action. What could be better?

How about having the Ice Man in NASCAR? If Kimi Raikkonen does in fact enter and qualify for this weekend’s Nationwide race, that will be another event to throw on the TV this weekend, in what has to be considered one of the greatest weekends in motorsports!

Technically I already kicked off summer a couple of weeks ago with a lovely trip to the Gulf Coast (Carillon Beach, FL), but we all know that summer ‘officially’ begins this weekend, with Memorial Day sitting in as the three day kicker.

I would be remiss to not thank our military, their loved ones, and of course those that have sacrificed their lives in the name of this great country.

Wishing you and yours a very safe Memorial Day weekend!


F1’s Fickle Dance

How much tweaking of the rules will be accepted before the fans just turn off the tube in favor of something more compelling? I have not researched the numbers (if they are even publicly available) to see where this season’s F1 ratings stand compared to the past three or four; however I expect that the numbers for 2010 should be decent. This year has been interesting – decent points battle, intense team battles with Red Bull highlighting the fun, and of course a close Drivers and Constructors points chase.

So of course Bernie Ecclestone wants to switch things up; go figure. I could write more, but why bother. For a super rich buy, he is really a dumb bloke.

The 2011 season will see more rule changes: moveable rear wing, the return of KERS, and adjustable front wings are no longer allowed. Of course there are other changes in the name of making the aerodynamics easier for overtaking. Apparently it is all about the show; the powers that be want to go from limited passes to passes on every lap, which could happen thanks to the moveable rear wing.

While it is not a rule change, the return of Pirelli should make things plenty interesting. They have promised to make tires that are safe, long lasting, but they will degrade at the right frequency. Think Canadian Grand Prix.

No Mr. Ecclestone, F1 is exciting without going to an unnecessary Olympics medal system. Each year I write that I would love to see the addition of points for winning the pole, leading at the halfway point, and running the fastest lap. A few extra points up for grabs will keep things interesting until the bitter end of even the most predictable race.

But enough about 2011, the 2010 season still has enough drama to make most F1 fans plenty happy.


US F1 – Anticlimactic Conclusion

The final chapter on US F1 came to an official close late last week as the FIA gave US F1 a firm hand, ending the dream once and for all.

The FIA has fined US F1 309,000 euros ($379,500) – the equivalent of the championship entry fee – and ordered it to pay the costs of the FIA disciplinary process. It also disqualified the team, “which definitively deprives US F1 of the right to take part, in any way whatsoever, in any competition.”

The remaining assets of US F1 were recently sold off at auction, where its sole tub netted less than $8,000.

Maybe a new US F1 hopeful will rise with the upcoming US Grand Prix in Austin in 2012. It would be nice to see a US based F1 team, or at the least a US driver. Wishful thinking.


Le Mans. Oh Canada!

This is shaping up to be a great sports weekend. Not only is the World Cup in full force, but the racing action should be fantastic. Kicking things off today is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which gets under way in a couple of hours. Tomorrow afternoon is the Canadian Grand Prix, which may be run under adverse wet conditions.

Can you racing nirvana?

Happy Saturday!


F1 in Texas

I really do not get the announcement earlier this week that F1 is returning to the U.S. in Austin, TX. Nothing against Texas (I am a native Texan), or Austin (love the Longhorns), however I imagine that most F1 fans would have been happy with an F1 return in Indy.

I guess it comes down to money – a 10 year deal at a F1 purpose built track has to be a big money deal. At least the U.S. is returning to the racing calendar. Can we get a U.S. based F1 team in time for 2012? Please.


Immediate F1 Rule Changes Needed?

It is hard for me to disagree with these articles from RACER and PlanetF1. The new rules changes are basically a dud, and while one race a season does not make, it will be a disaster for the F1 powers that be if Australia follows suite to Bahrain.

I still wish that all the monkey’ing around with the points system would have added points for landing the poll, leading the most laps, leading at the midway point, and for gaining the fastest lap. Anything to make the races more interesting would be helpful.

As far as I can tell, it has been awhile since there was a major re-fueling accident, and the cars are not remarkable more fuel efficient just because of the refueling ban. What’s the point?


Ring The Bells: Ferrari 1-2

Great result for the Scuderia, with Alonso and Massa finishing 1-2 at the expense of Vettel. Party in Maranello? After last season, this result has to be beyond Ferrari’s wildest dreams.

I think Alonso must have had something in hand; even without the late problem with Vettel’s Red Bull, I think Alonso was going to close up and challenge. Massa has to be plenty pleased at a podium finish after last year’s life threatening injury.

As for Michael Schumacher, a sixth place finish is pretty respectable, however I am sure it is eating Schume up that his Nico qualified in front of him, finished in front of him, and as best I can tell outpaced him all weekend.

As for the racing, it seemed pretty typical parade around the circuit stuff as we have come to expect in recent years. It was interesting see what short of strategies would play out with the refueling ban and new tires. The changes just did not seem to translate well on the track. Still, it is the first race, so we will have to see what develops over the coming weeks.


F1 Is Back – Bahrain Within The Hour

I missed out on the qualifying session yesterday, but I thought it was interesting that Vettel took the poll, Massa and Alonso showed well for Ferrari landing the second and third spots, and finally Nico out qualified Schumacher (5th vs. 7th). I wonder if that is what Schume had in mind when he decided to come back at 41?

All things considered, Schumacher securing the seventh position is respectable considering a three year layoff, and the various changes to the cars, rules, and regulations.

In typical American fashion (at least I think it is typical) I am a Ferrari boy, and I always have a few favorite drivers. In the past 14 or so years that I have been following F1, I have cheered for Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Scott Speed, and of course Schumacher and the drama of putting the Scuderia back on top.

This year things are different. I anticipated a US entry, but alas, I was thwarted in my bid to cheer for the Red, White, and Blue. Disappointing. This year I hope for a remarkable comeback for Schumacher and I expect to see Massa and Alonso splitting race wins. Hopefully there will be good racing all around, with a few surprises to boot!

On the videogame front, maybe we will finally see a worthy successor to the Formula One Championship Edition (PS3). After all, I got my “racing” love back in 1996 by playing Psygnosis’ Formula 1 for the PSX.  It is very disappointing that we have not seen some sort of new F1 game – this is a far cry from the PSX heyday when we would see yearly releases, often with competing developers in the same year with semi-licensed games.


US F1 – A Look Towards Future Days?

The complete failure of US F1 is rather sad; however it is almost pathetic that the team is even talking about a 2011 entry. So many questions, two of which I will ponder now – what really happened and how did it fall apart so (seemingly) suddenly?

US F1 principal owner Ken Anderson is either a fool or delusional; maybe both. Does Mr. Anderson really think that he will just pick up the pieces, and start racing in 2011? At this point why would anyone give any money to this rag-tag startup? It looks like Mr. Anderson singlehandedly destroyed any hopes of an F1 future in the US.

What really happened? I honestly have no idea. Clearly the team was not ready regardless of how the new 2010 rules were going to play out, and more importantly Mr. Anderson and company must not have secured the necessary financial backing for this sort of undertaking.

Disappointing at best, and maybe best described as really downright disheartening to this F1 fan that really wanted to see a F1 racing future in America.


Team US F1 – Dream Unrealized

According to Racer, Team US F1 has closed its doors, which probably comes to no surprise to anyone following the team’s recent troubles.

Against the backdrop of weeks of uncertainty about the future of the American team, which had been struggling to get a car ready for the start of the season, sources have revealed team personnel have now been informed they are no longer required as the operation was not continuing.

It’s unfortunate. I never expected the upstart to be a front running; I did expect Team US F1 to put together a decent package, finish some races, and build some US enthusiasm for F1. Chasing after foreign drivers with serious sponsorship backing would have ultimately limited any appeal to US racing fans, or those just curious about this form of auto racing. I think Americans would have backed a true US based F1 team effort, but alas, it looked rather doomed from the start.