After F1 2021‘s Braking Point served as a good basis to build upon at best, have Codemasters done just that with the new game’s continuation? Here’s our comprehensive review of Braking Point 2 in F1 23.
Codemasters first dabbled with the idea of fictional characters in F1 2019‘s career mode F2 prologue. Many players became attached to the friendly teammate Lukas Weber and obnoxious, dirty rival Devon Butler. They expanded on that in F1 2021 with a full-blown dedicated storymode. Dubbed ‘Braking Point’, it was reminiscent of FIFA‘s The Journey.
It followed F2 champion Aiden Jackson who was paired up with seasoned veteran Casper Akkerman. They come to blows on a number of occasions, but figure out Butler is manipulating them. They learn to overcome their squabbles to help their team finish ahead of Butler’s in the standings.
For the second iteration of Braking Point, Jackson and Butler go from rivals to teammates. They pair up at the brand new fictional team, Konnersport. Before release, we had reason to believe that Braking Point 2 would be a huge step up, with multiple different outcomes and a more refined story. Then we saw the first three chapters, and it gave us reason to have doubts.
But now we’ve had the chance to play the whole story. So here are our thoughts on Braking Point 2 in F1 23. Do be aware, we are going to talk about integral plot details so consider this your spoiler alert. If you haven’t played Braking Point 2 yet, feel free to come back to this.
Braking Point Still Lacking
When it comes to the gameplay scenarios, Braking Point 2 still has some objectives that just seem unrealistic. If F1 2021‘s Braking Point which had the player able to contend for podiums with the Williams or Haas was bad enough, there are points in the F1 23 Braking Point with the player starting at the back and aiming for third.
Yes, the Konnersport team is fictional so we can’t exactly base where they are pace wise in real F1 to garner an idea of realism. But even so, a team that qualifies 17th on pure pace will rarely reach the top five in a full Grand Prix distance, let alone in a 25% distance race.
Another issue arose when the first three chapters released online. The chapters seemed to be spread quite far apart. We never felt the repercussions of the previous scenario, it felt less like a cohesive story but just mere occurrences. Thankfully, it picks up a bit following that, but it’s still a bit disjointed.
There are also conflicts within the story itself. For example, there are articles making reference to AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries as an F2 champion. He is of course, he was 2019 champion. However, if you remember back to F1 2021 Braking Point, Jackson won the F2 championship at the end of 2019. So that’s a contradiction in canon that they didn’t account for.
A lot of the cutscenes also take the form of Drive to Survive-esque interviews, supposedly set after the 2023 season ends but spliced intermittently throughout. There are points where it feels like they tried to take a perspective that the character feels at the point we are in the story. Not chronologically lining up with them doing interviews after the 2023 season ends.
But most importantly, there doesn’t seem to be alternative outcomes like EA seemingly told us. We have just had the single playthrough, but judging by other’s playthroughs and whether the players complete the bonus objectives, the outcomes are always the same. So it’s another linear story mode, just like F1 2021‘s Braking Point.
The F1 Game Characters
Next up, we have to talk about the characters, the entire reason behind a story mode. If both the characters and story fail to interest, the whole point of a story mode is moot. The story takes place throughout the 2022 and 2023 seasons, and it predominantly focuses around the tense Butler family.
On one side, you have the Konnersport team headed by Andreo Konner with drivers Aiden Jackson and Devon Butler. Also playing a part here is Devon’s father Davidoff, who heads the title sponsor Butler Global. He is clearly very influential, almost too much for his own good.
On the other side, brand new character Callie Mayer is enjoying a very successful F2 season under the tutelage of Cas Akkerman. Don’t fall for the name though. She is in fact the sister of Devon Butler and daughter of Davidoff. But clearly by having a different name, there are some tensions between them.
After serving as one of the main characters in the first Braking Point, Jackson’s role is less prominent than it perhaps should be. He’s a frustrated man, thinking he was getting signed to Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari but the deal never worked out and begrudgingly makes do with the offer available to him.
It’s a great route to take Aiden down. He goes from the happy go lucky and unsure of himself guy to rather unpleasant and irritable. Jackson believes that he is too good for the team. He has ambitions but needs to learn a hard lesson of making the best of what he has.
Teamed with the Butler family feud, it makes for some instability within Konnersport. Devon is still his obnoxious and irritating old self. His father is unwilling to budge on matters with Andreo and clearly has an agenda of his own. Then when Callie enters the frame, it brings the fractured family dynamic into the picture.
Mayer has much of the same confidence and swagger as her brother, she is strong-willed and outspoken. But she doesn’t share the malice or the need to mess with people as Devon. Callie focuses solely on results. But she is also deeply troubled by how her father prioritises Devon’s career and refuses to fund hers. After her parents divorced, she takes on her mother’s name.
Not only that, but she felt like her brother never tried to convince their father to keep supporting Callie’s career. It makes for some emotionally charged exchanges between them where you really feel the weight. The moments between Callie and her estranged father are especially heavy. All of Callie’s torment from effectively being told she wasn’t good enough is clear for all to see. This serves as her motivation to prove people wrong.
Speaking of the father, Davidoff Butler is perhaps the most layered character. He appears to be a nasty piece of work, even more so than his son. But by the end, you understand why he does what he does, even if you don’t agree with his methods.
By far the biggest star out of all the characters is the one we all love to hate. Towards the start of the game, it would appear there’s no nuance to Butler. But as it continues, there are hints towards something being up with him. He initially seems to ignore instructions over the radio, blaming the equipment. But when they run the checks and everything is functioning well, they chalk it up to his ego.
Turns out, Devon has developed a very severe form of tinnitus which means he couldn’t hear the instructions. It also manifests in imbalance and fatigue, which results in him no longer being able to safely control a racing car. It makes for a heart-breaking scene in the motorhome, where Casper Akkerman (who takes on the Konnersport team principal role for 2023) walks in after Butler has a breakdown.
He admits he can no longer drive after keeping his condition from the team. A moment that gives a whole new meaning to the scene in the first Braking Point, after Devon tried antagonising Cas for announcing his retirement from racing. It’s very conflicting, we’ve spent all these years loathing the character and now, we feel sorry for him.
For someone who has spent their whole life racing, to have it ripped away without a choice, it’s painful to see. It’s an inspired decision to touch upon the harsh truth of tinnitus, but it doesn’t suddenly turn Butler into a shell of his former self. He never moves away from the obnoxious and insufferable guy we have all become accustomed to him being.
A Missed Opportunity
There is just one issue we have with the story. In the first Braking Point, Jackson and Akkerman have their conflict as the main driving point of the plot. Understandably the second Braking Point begins with Jackson not enjoying being Butler’s teammate. After Butler’s tinnitus comes to light though, that paves the way for Mayer to take his seat.
Mayer’s debut race is then overshadowed by a miscommunication that results in her accidentally taking out Jackson. The latter never gets over it and subsequently races his new teammate extra aggressively, and it just feels forced. The writing team obviously didn’t think they could do away with the immediate conflict schtick which has been done to death.
Having Mayer take Butler’s place within the team was perhaps a good starting point for Aiden to have a teammate he got along with from the word go. What they could have done was have them be good friends. Perhaps they’re a similar age and raced together through the ranks.
With two years expected between now and the next Braking Point instalment, that new dynamic could have brought along so many new opportunities. Maybe Konnersport could somehow be in contention for the championship. Seeing Jackson and Mayer go from good friends to bitter rivals like Hamilton and Rosberg as they both want to win would have been fascinating to see.
But as it stands, we’re set for rehashed petty squabbles for the sake of it once more. Braking Point 2 ends sweetly enough, and who knows how the third potential instalment will go. But it just feels like there could have been different seeds planted.
Overall, Braking Point 2 is a step up in many ways. But in others, it still has many of the same issues that plagued the first iteration. Nevertheless, it’s still worth the playthrough at least once.
What did you make of Braking Point 2 in F1 23? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!