Top positive review
Mixed impressions, but a solid game in all.
on 3 October 2012
I did much deliberating over whether to buy this game or not, basically if its codemasters and isn't one of their mainstream games then it could (as it has been in the past) be limited or buggy or basically broke.
BUT suprisingly it isn't, no doubt down to a mix the 3DS version being used as an alpha test and Sumo Digital and their expertise in portable games (one of many contributing developers of LBP vita).
Design - essentially in its features this vita version is more like a refined F1 2010 rather than 2011, it features everything except the press interviews, flashback ability and MP is limited to 4 players. Pitstops, stategies, choosing your team, and all the modes of F1 as we know it are present including KERS and DRS, in addition to the vita version are challenges which seem like a DiRT inspired manner of breaking up what is still rather a hardcore racing sports game. Challenges work well enough helping to break up the experience and feature different scenarios such as unique pit stop stategies and head to heads with other race driver AIs.
Gameplay - Its relatively similar to consoles, though there is some slight handicapping in relation to speed and handling, a problem quickly found at the start is that the assist options do nothing but destroy any sense of handling, but they can be turned off and you'll be nailing apexs with a bit of experience in no time. AI was a major problem in the 3DS and luckily it is much improved, however I myself set it to the max to get any challenge at all, AI seem to possess individual traits and some will perform better than others on different tracks, but there is still a slight craving for a harder difficulty as some tracks like monaco AI lag in lap times by about 10 seconds on max difficulty (qualifying + race session), although on melbourne that gap is less than a second, so there are some inequalities (don't know whether they have patched though). Overall you will be getting some challenge but beware that %50 comes from the endurance factor, and most the assists off (I do race on automatic).
Graphics - the most contreversal of all because its hardly setting all cylinders ablaze, I came from wipeout 2048 to this and its a dramatic drop. The game has a lack of shaders and special effects which refrain it from looking beautiful, also car models have a lack of antistophic flitering meaning that livery details are not that crisp. However it does go to show that even 'limited development time' build can still be pretty substantial as the vita's quad core and RAM easily see to impressive draw distances, no jagged edges, mostly sharp clean textured tracks and most of all a smooth FPS, even with 23 cars in front. no bugs or glitches, no load time issues. There is some attention to detail such as modeled pitstops, cockpits, tyres actually looking wet, or filthy if you go on to gravel.
Overall if you want a F1 game on the go, you want that core racing experience (and remember that this is the only true racing game on the vita currently) then this is good enough for the price, no you won't find groundbreaking graphics or anything distinctively added to the career experience, but it does contain that racing spirit. If on the other hand you want to experience F1 in full glory for the first time, then F1 2012 on the consoles may be better.
**1 note: F1 in general vita and consoles have the option to race in 3 lap sessions rather than the full 2 hour average, however 3 lap sessions make much of what makes F1, pitstops and qualifying pointless, so F1 in general is for the hardcore racing fans.