There are two new tracks, improved handling, oscillating bodywork, improved damage, revamped pit stops, 2011 rule additions, enhanced garage visuals, a new press feedback system and a dynamic cloud system. Whilst these are minor additions in the grand scheme of things, Codemasters' Stephen Hood is quick in assuring us that this is "not just a small update".
The follow-up to the fastest selling F1 game of all time will build on its 9/10 worthy predecessor with more than just tweaks and tuning. F1 2011 is a fully justified sequel.
The experience can be divvied up into the studios' three-part development/marketing mantra: be the driver, live the life and go compete. In terms of be the driver, Codemasters offers a myriad of bullet points for the back of the box. Buddah International and Nürburgring have joined the circuit roster, with a bevy of graphical improvements to the existing 18 tracks. There's enhanced damage and failures, improved feedback for the driver (a voice explaining to the driver what else is happening on the track), heightened circuit fidelity and everything else I mentioned up at the top there.
Avid followers of the sport will be pleased to hear that KERS and DRS have been included to compliment this season's FIA rules. For the less avid followers, KERS stands for kinetic energy recovery system (which converts kinetic energy recovered from the rear axle during braking into a usable burst of energy) and the DRS (drag reduction system) reduces drag. Neither of these acronyms I had to look up on Wikipedia, I promise.
In F1 2010, live the life introduced innovation to the genre in the form of paddock interactions. Journalists would pester you for comments after a race, which - depending on who you might slag off - would affect the action on the track. This year's offering welcomes a revised paddock and garage, and new parc fermé animations - which didn't make the cut in 2010 due to time constraints.
Go compete sees the biggest feature additions to the game; multiplayer is a much bigger focus this time around. F1 2011 allows two players to team up and start a co-op career. Whilst this might seem a co-operative affair on the surface, the rivalry between team mates is at the heart of the F1 experience. Who qualifies the furthest up the grid? Who has the better lap times? Who crosses the finish line first? I'll be answering each of these questions with "me" when I inevitably start a career with my F1-obsessed father when the game launches.
Contributing to the split-screen reconnaissance the industry has seen over the last year or so, F1 2011 will allow two players to play on the same screen at the same time. It's like 1997 all over again. As well as this, online play now supports a full grid of 24 cars. The game can only support 16 players, however, so the remaining eight cars will be driven by AI drivers.
When asked, Hood also revealed that something along the lines of Autolog might be heading to the game, but wouldn't elaborate as to what. Such a feature is crucial if Codies hopes to remain on equal footing with other driving games, but Hood has expressed concern about feature, claiming that it's "overstated". How the developer therefore chooses to approach social integration is one of the biggest questions remaining about F1 2011.
F1 2011 is due for release in September, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC