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Game review: F1 2016 for Android and iOS is a first-time wonder

The promise of console quality gaming on your smartphone and tablet has been well and truly delivered on

‘F1 2016’ is the perfect antidote for F1 fans who are missing out on the real racing action at this time of the year
‘F1 2016’ is the perfect antidote for F1 fans who are missing out on the real racing action at this time of the year

The Formula 1 season for 2016 is done and dusted, and genuine F1 fans tend to feel lonely in the months leading up to March next year, when the new season begins. But we have some good news for you. Game studio Codemasters has released the first ever iteration of the F1 game title otherwise made for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox consoles, for your Android and iOS devices. And from what we have experienced, it is replicating the brilliance, at every step.

Will it work on my phone or tablet?

First up, it is the matter of compatibility. For Apple devices, the F1 2016 game for iOS works on iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Pro, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and the latest generation iPhone 7 as well as iPhone 7 Plus. It will also work on the latest generation Apple TV console, provided you are using the optional game controller accessory. However, it is not that simple with the Android ecosystem, as with most things. While Codemasters suggests that you keep at least 2.67 GB of free space on your device for the game to install properly, the hardware your phone runs will also make a difference. For example, while it installs cleanly on devices such as the Google Pixel XL, OnePlus 3, Xiaomi Mi Max Prime and even the Moto X Style, it shows up as incompatible on the likes of the OnePlus One and the HTC One M8. So, if you have an older Android device, you may not be in luck.

How much does it cost me?

The F1 2016 game costs Rs620 on iOS and Android. There are no in-game purchases later that could potentially add up to a much higher cost, and no adverts as well to spoil the experience. This is a fully licensed game, which means all the drivers, cars, teams and race circuits are replicated to the fullest.

Gameplay: No yellow flags here

There is a beautiful slickness to the entire F1 2016 gameplay experience. Quite unlike even the most visually expressive smartphone games, this seems very polished, crisp and represented in a way that even someone who isn’t the most profound with smartphone apps will figure a way around.

As you set about for your first race, the F1 2016 game prompts you to select one of the four configurations of controls—beginner and pro tilt as well as beginner and pro touch. The first two will require you to physically tilt the phone or tablet to control the steering of the car, while the latter provides touch-based controls. There are also a variety of artificial intelligence assists that can be turned on or off, including braking assistance. Be careful while changing the sensitivity levels, because tweaking the steering sensitivity, for example, can make it a tad too responsive and induce far too much oversteer.

There are a bunch of game modes as well, including single races as well as an entire championship. You can take part in these by selecting any of the official teams or drivers, and the entire weekend set is available—practice sessions, qualifying and the full race. You have the option of altering the race length as well, the minimum being three laps. For longer races, the safety car element is also available to add excitement to how the race is unfolding.

There are some inconsistencies with the artificial intelligence though. There are times when you will find the cars in front of you weave about or drive in a very erratic manner, and that can throw you off any potential overtaking moves you may be lining up. At other times, the slipstream effect doesn’t seem to provide any speed benefit, something that is most visible on tracks such as Canada’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve which has long straights. Also, “driving down the inside" of the car in front is a technique used very often for overtaking, in real life as well as racing games. In F1 2016, this doesn’t always work well, if you are using braking assistance, because you will end up with locked wheels under tad too much braking, and the car on the outside will simply drive past.

Graphics: Minutest details, on the small screen

The visual appeal of the console versions of F1 2016 was all around the extremely fine reproduction of detailing, for every element—cars, the driver overalls and helmets, ambient weather, racetracks, the rubber laid down on the tracks during races, and more. In fact, the crowd doesn’t look like cardboard cut-outs placed on the stands. The same excellence has been replicated on the smaller smartphone screens as well as the tablet displays.

We played this game on a variety of low-power devices as well, to see if the graphics quality changes in any way, and it didn’t seem to be the case. What is even more appreciable is the fact that there are no stutters or dropped frame rates on phones that are not very powerful.

Download or not?

The F1 2016 game for your iOS or Android device does have some foibles, but nothing that cannot be solved by simple software updates. Apart from that, this game is the perfect antidote for F1 fans who are missing out on the real racing action at this time of the year. Download this, and you will appreciate the detailing and the experience on offer.

F1 2016

Publisher: Codemasters

Developer: Codemasters

Price: Rs620; Available for Android and iOS

Tested on:

Apple iPad Pro (Apple A9X, PowerVR Series 7; 12-core graphics)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus (Apple A10 Fusion quad-core processor and six-core graphics)

Google Pixel XL (Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, 4GB RAM, Adreno 530 graphics)

Xiaomi Mi Max Prime (Qualcomm Snapdragon 652, 4GB RAM, Adreno 510)

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