Formula One is arguably the most exciting form of motor racing around. The thrill of the speeds and the deafening noise. The vibe of excitement from everyone around you. The next generation of the F1 game series is here. How does it hold up?
Code masters, the developers of the F1 series, could be named the masters of the racing genre after developing various game series’ ranging from TOCA to Colin McRae Rally to Grid. So it’s easy to say that they’ve had lots of practice developing racing games. The British Developer and Publisher have been officially licensed to make Formula 1 games since 2009 making F1 2017 the 9th game developed by them in the series. The game was released on the 25th of August 2017, on the Xbox One, PS4, PC and Mac.
Going into the game I had high expectations. I had really enjoyed my time with F1 2016 as it had been a long time since the last time I played an F1 game. After entering into the game, sending a picture to my brother asking if he was jelly then creating my career character and starting my first season, I was disappointed. During the intro video, I was greeted by familiar commentator voices giving me an exact copy/paste of an intro that I heard plenty of times in F1 2016.
After restarting the game just to make sure I hadn’t booted up the wrong game, I got something new which I was expecting. The fundamentals of the game, just like previous games in the series, namely the driving aspect Is smooth and well implemented. It’s the small details that have been updated that impressed me. For example, sitting in the pit lane looking at my swanky new upgrade tree, I hear something I’m sure I haven’t heard before. Instead of just hearing the noise of a crowd cheering, I could hear what sounded like an external commentator talking to the crowd, talking about the other drivers and the changes that had been performed on cars. It’s the small things that make a game like this that much more immersive.
One of the things included in the game that brings it closer to being a simulation game rather than an arcade game is the way that you need to look after your engine. There are six parts to your engine and each part has a damage report. You need to manage the use of each part to make sure that a part doesn’t break down on you and, just like in the real championship, there’s a penalty given if a new part of the engine needs to be ordered as you’ve gone through all your other parts already.
Another of the new introductions is being able to drive classic F1 cars. Each car has a scenario applied to it. For example, there’s a challenge where you’re driving the 2006 Renault R26 and have 3 laps to overtake four other cars that have a head start on you. I have to say it’s amazing to hear the noise of a screaming F1 car traveling at 180Mph at 20000rpm again (I personally prefer the sound over the noise of current cars). It’s nice to have the chance to drive the iconic cars of previous seasons. Including the F2002 that dominated the season of 2002 and the FW14B that Nigel Mansell drove to win all but one race in the 1988 season. Despite the old cars that can be driven, there’s not a huge amount to gain from completing the invitational except increasing your career score. This to me just feels like a bolt on to try to push the game out to an older audience who may wish to see these cars again.
There are still some things that I feel the game lacks. In other series like Dirt, it’s possible to select a name from a list that you wish to be referred to as. This would mean that when the pre-race line-up is being called out, instead of being known by the team that you’re driving for, your name could be called out along the likes of Massa, Button, and Alonso. This would also change the end of the race as well when the final standings are being read through. It would also give the possibility for you to be named the MVP of the race.
Something else that I feel is missing from the game that happens every year and at every race. Press conferences and interviews. Talking to the media is a way that fans connect with the drivers, and while it may be hard for an in-depth interview to take place with the player’s opinions, there could be an interesting mechanic where the way you talk to the media effects different things, like pit crew morale, how happy the team boss is with you and how much sponsors give you to be able to develop parts on the car. Going deeper, the pit crew moral could even affect how well you do in the race, if the crew is happy they could save you a few tenths of time while in the pits, and as everyone knows, a few tenths can be the difference in a race.
One of the returning features of the game is the flashback feature. This where you can rewind back a small amount of time to fix a mistake that you may have made, or maybe you just want to relive a crash you were just in (we all know the crashes of F1 are the best thing about it). The difference to other Code Master games is that you’re not restricted to a number of times that you can use the feature.
Just like every game, there are a few bugs ranging from a graphical glitch where a fan used to cool brakes merges through the tire and the commentators talking about events that didn’t happen (the commentators decided to talk about the safety car affecting the race even though it didn’t come out in multiple different races). But despite these downfalls, the game does have big improvements. More practice tests, a more accurate representation of part ware and tare, classic cars and the new upgrade tree.
But should you get it? If you’re a massive fanboy of Formula 1 and want to feel like you live the life of a driver, go ahead, it will fill your time immensely. But, if you already have the 2016 game, I wouldn’t suggest upgrading. The basics of the game are fundamentally the same and another £44.99 doesn’t sound appealing. I would say wait for the game to go on sale in some form or another (this should be fairly regularly if you’re looking to get the game on steam).
Overall, my rating for this game: 7.2/10.