F1 is back again for 2017 from developer Codemasters. Has it dramatically changed for the better, like last year’s version over its 2015 entry or have we been given more of the same?
First thing I must tip my hat off to with this game is its settings. F1 is really opened up to you for whatever you might need to change or alter. You are also capable of making changes mid race. Many racers just give you a bare bones pause screen, but F1 allows you to make any changes to your experience at any time.
The stand out feature for F1 has to of course be the career mode. Just like in 2016’s outing, this is where the game really shines for the player. As soon as you jump into the game you are given the options of creating your driver. From their look/race/ethnicity to now even a female racer, which is nice to see. When picking your future champion, you select one of of F1’s preset avatars, give your future champion a name (we all usually name ourselves lets be honest) and a 3 letter abbreviation, like for myself KYL. Then you pick out your lucky number, your nationality, and design your awesome helmet from a select few ones that F1 has to offer.
As soon as that is done, much like last year’s F1, you meet your chosen team and brand owner, and go about setting up racers. I wasn’t the biggest fan of F1 2016’s little home hub area, where you are sitting at a desk amongst your teams elite snobs. It felt almost hollow and barren, which is strange as most of the game felt very much alive with your pit crew, the crowd, and even the press down on the track before a race. This is still present in F1 2017, here I am sitting at a desk, a championship racer and I feel like the weird kid sitting alone in the cafeteria at lunch. The game just has these weird moments of balancing the feel of life in both last year’s and this year’s entry. It breaks the immersion for me and starts to feel like just another generic racing game and less of a racing sim.
One new feature of this year’s F1 is the heavily extensive vehicle management layout. I am not kidding when I say that this can be quite daunting to someone like myself who is coming off games like Forza or Need for Speed. I felt like I needed a degree in automotive design to understand some of the things I was looking at and reading on screen. Not to scare anyone away from driving, and car fanatics will be huge fans of this new system. It really is quite in-depth and impressive to behold. A lot of love has been given to allow the players to have every tool they need to create the perfect automotive masterpiece. Codemasters have really managed to expand upon the realism in-game with what players have to work with.
On the actual track, not much has changed entirely. It felt the same as I remembered racing on Melbourne’s track and remembered how the track was setup and which turns to watch out for. I didn’t have a problem handling the vehicles myself using the PS4 controller. I wish I had a proper racing gaming setup, as F1 has force feedback on the controller wheel that you use. That would have been quite the experience to try out and one that I hopefully manage to try out one day. But again, I really have to applaud Codemasters, I feel they have really hit the nail on the head with giving players the best racing sim experience.
Once you have created your driver, you are presented with the question of which team you will begin your career with. You can select any of the 10 teams that are competing in the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship, with each having a unique bio and team expectation. This helps you understand each team and what they are anticipating from you as a driver, before you select them. In addition to this, there is a chart that maps out the performance of each team’s car on the right hand side.
Another new addition to F1 2017 is championship mode, which see’s players set out on a select few different races that have a strict set of rules and times that need to be completed. This mode would be best for those who like a true challenge in their racing sims, as to succeed and complete these championships you really need to be on your A game and complete each required objective.
F1 2017 has also given the AI a tune up, as I felt like I was given more of a challenge during races. It felt at times like I was actually racing somebody online as the AI can tend to drive a bit aggressive at times which made the career mode feel just that little bit more lively. Races tended to open up and be more tense as the snake that is other racers breaks out and each driver has their eyes set on the top position, so it takes a little time for the game to really get going but when it does, it really puts the pedal to the metal.
12 classic cars have also been added to this years F1 entry. These can be raced in career mode via certain revival matches, Grand Prix mode where you can of course race on any track, championship and time trial. Some of these classic cars look absolutely beautiful and handled like you’d expect. They too could be customized to a certain degree.
The tracks are all beautifully presented as well, and during every championship race F1 feels much more alive with random AI out on the field before the race or even before or after as you are sitting down at your desk preparing for your next race.
Weather is a great feature too and is dynamic which means it could have been raining and the track is slick and wet at first, but as the track starts to dry, you can feel that your control of your vehicle has to change to meet the conditions It really is neat that you can actually feel the conditions of the track change as the weather does.
Damage to your vehicles also changes the conditions to how you handle yourself going forward. There are different levels to how badly you can damage your vehicle, from small bumps to the biggest, like losing a tyre mid race. You can monitor your vehicles condition, and any damage done can be repaired by visiting the pit stop.
The development tree is also a neat feature included that has you unlock perks using resource points that have been collected while performing certain races and objectives. It can be a bit daunting though to look at, as there is quite a bit present on screen with it, and to be honest, it does come across as a little bit overwhelming.
You could spend tens of hours tinkering around in career mode as there is both a lot of life and detail present. Thanks to the development tree, you can also spent a lot of time practising and completing races to acquire more resource points to unlock more tech for your car. So spending time perfecting your car and getting the best performance scores for your chosen team really has you sticking hard with the game for many hours.
While career mode is where a lot of driving sim fans will feel at home, the multiplayer section of F1 2017 is where a lot of people will find true competition in. F1 is a big competitor in the Esports field, and this year’s title will be a welcome addition to the industry. Not a great deal more really to say on the online section of the game. It handles well and it set up perfectly. Sadly however, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of people jumping online as lobbies could take a while to fill. However it was early days and I’m sure people are still keeping themselves busy with the large amount of single player content they have on their hands. Which like I said, Career mode is really where the light is shining in F1 2017.
Graphics and Sound
F1 looks as beautiful as ever. From the dynamic weather and rain dripping off your drivers helmet to the beautiful shine off your F1 vehicle on a sunny day.
The cracks, pops and loud revving of the engines sound great as Codemasters delivers another awesome sounding F1 sim. They also sound fantastic coming through my headset, so I’m sure with a surround sound set up, F1 would sound amazing.
F1 2017 has some improvements but nothing like the big jump we saw from 2015 – 2016 entries. I’m not sure If I’d recommend someone rush out and buy this entry, as the improvements aren’t that vast. So fans of the series may not feel satisfied with the changes made this year. Perhaps for newcomers this would be a good time to pick up F1, but for old fans maybe wait this year out.