F1 Preview – Braking Point Narrative Adventure
Any time Formula 1 teammates meet up on the track, team principles and owners’ pulse starts to increase. Will the meeting lead to cooperation, securing top points for the team, or will they push things too far and crash each other out?
Real life F1 is rife with examples of clashing teammates — Nico Rosburg and Lewis Hamilton at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix; Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix; Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in Brazil in 2019; and seemingly every race when Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were teammates at Force India.
With “Braking Point,” F1 2021 seems to take its own stab at a teammate rivalry. You race as Aiden Jackson, beginning with his final F2 race in 2019 and continuing into the 2020 F1 season, where you’re paired with elder statesman Casper Akkerman. You get to choose from one of five teams to join; I chose the Aston Martin team, which means that Jackson and Akkerman are driving for the pink Racing Point in 2020.
Things get heated from the get-go, as Jackson gets dropped into the Australian Grand Prix with nine laps to go and an edict to catch up from 13th place to Akkerman in 10th. As you catch up to him, the game switches to a cutscene: Jackson is supposed to hold off rival Devon Butler behind, but instead tries to pass his teammate; Jackson doesn’t leave enough room on the track and knocks Akkerman off the track, damaging his car and effectively ruining his race.
Casper repays the favor a few races later during the Chinese Grand Prix, when he goes wheel-to-wheel with Aiden and knocks the rookie back a few places. I spent the remainder of that race climbing back into contention to score points.
In-between the races, cutscenes play that expand upon the on-track action. After Australia, Casper is rightly perturbed at Aiden and won’t give him the time of day. Butler is nearby, talking trash. After China, Butler so helpfully tries to drive more of a wedge in between the teammates, then challenges Jackson to prove he belongs.
At this time, I can only discuss the action through the Chinese Grand Prix. It’s clear from my first hour with Braking Point that it is meant for someone new to the F1 series, and is especially geared for people maybe checking the game out because they watched Drive to Survive on Netflix.
So far, it succeeds. I’ve bought into Jackson as a rookie trying to find his footing and prove that he can hang in the sport. Butler is a great foil, and I’m interested in seeing the relationship between Jackson and Akkerman grow. Thus far, I haven’t had any choices to make beyond where to pass rivals on the track.
Braking Point is very reminiscent of past story modes in EA Sports’ Madden NFL and FIFA series. The character models are superb, and the on-track cutscenes look darned near lifelike. The mode seems to fit the mold as a great on-ramp for F1 2021, and I look forward to playing out the rest of the story.
Written by GamesReviews Contributor Seth Roy. Game code provided by the publisher, and played on Xbox Series X.