We had discussed it extensively in our F1 2021 test: it is undeniable that one of the most interesting innovations of the Codemasters racing game lies in its brand new story mode, called Braking Point. After having tried it thoroughly, we are ready to talk to you, pending the imminent full review, of the very first hour of play of the adventure of Aiden Jackson, Casper Akkerman and Devon Butler, which contains within itself the first two chapters of the Act 1, the one that narrates the difficult transition of our protagonist between Formula 2 and the much more competitive Formula 1. A golden opportunity to get a preliminary idea on the writing of the characters and the attitude of the narration, as well as on the playful structure of the mode.
The winding road to glory
The maximum source of inspiration of Braking Point, useless to go around it, seems to be the famous one “serial” documentary Drive to Survive, a Netflix branded product that aims to open a window on the paddock to let the viewer enter the tense atmosphere that reigns behind the scenes of the circus. And it does so, logically, emphasizing every slightest rivalry, telling the stories with a montage calculated to the millisecond to make everything as spectacular as possible.
The story mode of F1 2021 behaves in the same way, but he also has on his side the possibility to freely script our every interaction with Akkerman or Butler (who is back more haughty and self-centered than ever), a fundamental weapon with which the development team aims to weave a dense plot full of twists. The narrative style, in principle, recalls that of the small introductory storyline in which Butler himself had made his debut two years ago, in F1 2019 (here you can read our review of F1 2019), but the quality and the the structure of the story immediately appears much more evolved and complex. Although the incipit may appear decidedly over the top, with our protagonist, Aiden Jackson, who will immediately find himself “alone against everyone”, with Butler (the rival) and Akkerman (the unfriendly teammate) who seem to be looking for every way of completely destroying his self-esteem, the final result appears quite likely, however predictable and banal it may seem in its underlying themes.
If Butler continues to be the usual snooty baby, self-centered and full of himself, the relationship between the two teammates Jackson and Akkerman proved to be much more interesting, who immediately seemed to us to have great potential. Contrary to what happened in the introductory story seen in F1 2019, which seemed to be set up in a hurry, the Braking Point mode appears well thought out and full of secondary characters.
In addition to Casper “Cas” Akkerman, a cold and outspoken top driver at the end of his career, who tries to fight tooth and nail to try to keep up with the new generation, as young and inexperienced as fierce and talented, and the aforementioned Butler and Jackson, we also find other key figures such as Brian Doyle, our point of reference within the team: he will be our only link with the main team and will often act as mediator, trying to calm the incandescent souls of his two pilots.
The characteristics of the standalone mode
Unfortunately, however, the two chapters we can talk about today (which kept us glued to the screen for just under an hour) did not prove sufficient to fully understand all the dynamics of a story that, at least on paper , would like to aim to entertain the player with twists and turns for at least five or six hours. However, it was enough to better understand the evolution of the play system compared to two years ago, when it was just an unpretentious appendage of the pilot career.
The promotion to stand-alone mode has certainly benefited Braking Point, who was able to dare a little more with the intermission films and with all the surrounding elements that form a bridge between one chapter and another. Between one race and the next there will be not only intermission scenes created ad hoc, but also talks on the phone with the aforementioned Brian Doyle, with our mother and more; Finally, there will be the classic possibility of consulting our email box and a social network very similar, in setting and format, to Twitter: a nice addition, which immerses us even more in the atmosphere of the championship but which, on balance , it doesn’t add a lot of substance. We close by confirming that, as was to be expected, also in this mode there are the same aids and the same driving options announced for the rest of the game: for players who want to immerse themselves in history without having to commit too much on the track, the mode is available. “basic” driving, the simplified one introduced last year, while for those who want a purer and, as far as possible, “simulative” driving experience, there are the “normal” and the new “expert” modes (which, we remind you, does not present particular differences with the normal one, but is limited to providing us with more customization options).
The difficulty selection is slightly different from the rest of the game: instead of precisely calibrating the opponents’ AI, we will have three choices: “normal”, “medium” and “difficult”. We, after having tried all three, strongly advise you not to select the first one, which seemed far too easy to us. As for the choice of our first Formula 1 car, however, we remind you that this will be limited to five specific teams, namely Williams, Haas, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin.