Remember 'The Journey' in the FIFA series? It was a multi-year story centring primarily around the fictional character of Alex Hunter, allowing you to play out his career, make decisions to progress the narrative and watch pre-determined cutscenes every time you got to a certain point in the season. That's essentially what F1 2021 attempts to recapture with its brand-new story mode called 'Braking Point', and it largely succeeds in its goal.
The mode sees you taking the control of a pair of teammates, one of which is a young star-in-the-making called Aiden Jackson, with the other being a grizzled, moody veteran called Casper Akkerman. The story is focused around the uneven relationship between the two, and also features a prominent role for F1 2019's Devon Butler along the way.
In terms of how it aligns with the gameplay, you can be thrown into races from the start or halfway through, with objectives such as beating a certain team, managing a gearbox failure and even finishing ahead of your own teammate. During key moments, you're treated to elaborate cutscenes of the on-track action, and there's plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff as well, with the ability to take part in post-race interviews and choose your own answers.
Like 'The Journey', Braking Point is certainly the best starting point for beginners to F1 2021 and Codemasters' F1 series in general. The objectives are never too hard, and if you stick to the casual difficulty settings, you don't need to worry about things like car setups. That said, it does assume that you at least know the basics of the sport, such as being aware of when you need to enter the pit lane in the middle of a race. Even if you're unsure, you'll quickly pick it up.
You also get a chance to experience a few different scenarios, such as trying to complete a race with a damaged car, as well as encountering a Safety Car from the back of the pack, requiring you to (eventually) charge through and overtake as many competitors as possible. It all helps to add variety to the mode, and it's good practice for casual fans.
The story itself is genuinely pretty engaging throughout, and it benefits particularly well from switching perceptions halfway. After playing as Jackson for the first season, you get a chance to see things from the perspective of Akkerman in the second, giving you a better idea of the relationship between these two characters. They certainly act pretty childish and naïve at times, however, so they're not always as likable as they perhaps should be.
You can tell that Codemasters worked particularly hard on the cutscenes in Braking Point, which are generally well-acted and look visually impressive. It's elsewhere that 'Braking Point' can't quite match up to the depth of 'The Journey', as the hub area is fairly barebones, and there's no kind of character customisation to speak of. Even so, there's still a lot to like about Braking Point, and we really didn't find ourselves missing those aspects too much.
Of course, Braking Point is just the tip of the iceberg for F1 2021, and there's plenty of other good stuff to get stuck into over the next year. In particular, you've got the usual Solo Career mode and MyTeam options, along with the headline addition of Two-Player Career, which allows you to take the experience online with a friend. Definitely give Braking Point a try, though, as it's a very worthy crack at an F1 story mode, and a fun time while it lasts.
Are you picking up F1 2021 today? Will you be trying Braking Point? Let us know down in the comments.