F1 2011 is Harder, Better, Faster and Stronger...

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F1 2011 is to be the latest version of the wildly popular F1 series from Codemasters. However, the developers realize that you can't simply update rosters and sponsors and release a new game.

Even though F1 2010 hit number one in the Top Forty All Formats chart and was an absolute hit around the world, the Codemasters dev team is using F1 2011 to add features that have been heavily requested by the fans, as well as the drivers.

The first thing I noticed in the trailer was the nice environmental effects, from rain to fireworks over the buildings in a city environment. There will be 9 new circuits, from the Buddh International Circuit, to Nürburg, Germany, and Delhi, India. F1 2011 will feature new rules, including KERS, a short boost effect (think "Nitro") and DRS (Drag Reduction System), which allows for overtaking other cars.

They are developing the entire F1 driving experience to be more in-depth and realistic. The tag line, "Be the Driver. Live the Life. Go Compete." pretty much says it all... Little things such as the driver's quarters/office/ready room being in the arena building, rather than in the bus actually is more accurate. Further, the truck area will now be more specific to the driver and team... as will the steering wheels - previously they were generic, with just the team's logo swapped out, and now they are realistically modeled after the individual cars' steering wheels.

Some fans even requested random car failures be added, to make the game more realistic. The development team wanted to make F1 2011 as realistic as possible, but didn't want to have anything "random" without any real point to it, so instead, the vehicles will actually take stress in various systems, eventually failing if you push them too far. This way, when your brakes fail, you only have yourself to blame.

Another, somewhat surprising feature that has been popularly requested is two player split screen play. It's in there. Also, you'll find Co-Op Championship Mode, full online grid of 24 cars in online races (up to 16 players and 8 AI cars), parc fermé and reaction cinematics, photo-realistic garages (with shiny floors), a new press feedback system that lets you more easily realize the results of your press interviews, as well as handling advancements, a new driver A.I. system, improved feedback to players, improved and updated circuit environments, and even grass and weeds that are actually sticking up from the ground (rather than a grass-like texture painted on the ground).

I got a chance to play the Vita version, but it was actually running on what appeared to be a PlayStation Go. They indicated they're targeting 30 frames per second, but had not yet gotten there. I will say, however, that the game looked quite nice for a handheld.

F1 2011 is being made for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 3DS and PlayStation Vita. Currently, F1 2011 is in pre-beta, but the release is slated for Sept 23rd, 2011 for the PS3, 360 and PC. Release dates for the handheld versions have not yet been announced. Check back closer to the release date for a full review of F1 2011.