F1’s world was poised to change this year with the introduction of new regulations and cars. The changes were, however, delayed until 2022, as was the case with many other things during the pandemic. F1 is now stuck in a 12-month hold pattern. Although the 2021 season looked set to be predictable, the truth is that it has been one of the most exciting seasons in recent years.
It’s against this backdrop, Codemasters found itself in competition with its own fictional drama. Codemasters introduced a full-fledged story mode for F12021, the first time in the series. Although the final result isn’t quite as dramatic as the original, it’s an excellent new mode of play and a welcome addition to the series’ many modes. It’s also a well-executed package that makes it easy to enjoy.
Two years ago, Codemasters tried to introduce a story mode in F1 2019. It featured a brief F2-themed intro with a curated set late-race scenarios as well as first-person cutscenes. However, the story mode was a brief sequence of events that was added to the start of the normal career experience. F1 2021’s story is a standalone mode similar to The Journey from FIFA 17-19, or Fight Night Champion’s titled Champion Mode – though it’s not as emotional or as rousing.
Braking Point is the story of F1 2021. It focuses on two very different drivers. One, Aiden Jackson (a rookie Brit) who has a lot to learn about F1 and the paddock. The other, Casper Akkerman (a Dutch journeyman with a long career, but he’s now mostly retired. Jackson and Akkerman can race for any of five teams, including Williams, Haas Alfa Romeo and Alpha Tauri or Racing Point, which becomes Aston Martin during this story. The fictional drivers will replace the real-life drivers of your chosen team. However, the rest of grid will consist of F1 stars from 2020 and 2021, with one exception. Codemasters’ F1 reptile Devon Butler will replace another driver from one of four select teams. He was briefly the antagonist at F1 2019, but he is back for a bigger role.
F1 2021 is the most customizable and well-designed instalment in the long-running Codemasters series. You can also play with a friend and tinker underneath the hood of the core career experience. Braking Point has been added to F1 2021, making it the most bold F1 game yet. It’s not as well-written as the Drive to Survive. However, it was worth the risk of injecting a story into F1 and I look forward to seeing more.