Since Codemasters got the Formula One license way back in 2008, we’ve seen some real highs and lows of the series. From the low of their first game, which was only available on the Wii and the PSP, and highs of games like F1 2012, it seems like we’ve been waiting for another fresh version to show what they can do. This is that game.
This is the game the series itself needs as it moves into the brave, new digital future. A game with broad appeal, but with enough detail and depth to really have you digging into and exploring this world. Easy to pickup, it’s also hard to put down.
F1 is back, and it really is better than ever with F1 2017.
The new game brings a mix of classic and new to the mix. You get to explore some of the F1 greatest hits, while at the same time sampling the entire grid of new-for-2017 cars. The game also features updates to the handling model and weather systems which improve the realism of the car no matter which one you’re driving. Also interesting is the ability to actively compare cars throughout the generations, which is the perfect way to highlight exactly how fast these new cars really go. It also serves to give you the impression of what some of the old cars were really like when they grab you by the scruff of the neck and as you throw them around. There’s something perversely wrong yet great about taking old cars onto some of the new Tilke-designed tracks, on which they’ve never raced in real life. It’s history in motion, and it’s a beautiful feature to include in a package like this.
But when you’re done testing out all of the old cars, you’ll want to jump into the meat and potatoes of any F1 game. And with the ability to bring over some of your stats from last year, you start off with your pick of teams and teammates, letting you race with your favorite driver, rather than accidentally replacing him like older games. New practice programs finally give you a reason to put time into the the FP sessions rather than doing a few laps before skipping straight to qualifying. Instead, you get points for running certain programs, letting you turn those points into upgrades that will let any team move to the front of the grid, no matter their real life woes.
That isn’t to say you can immediately go and win your first title with McLaren-Honda right off the bat, as some cars have power unit’s that wear more than others. For instance, in my career, I’ve already had to dip into my 5th components just to stay reliable. Frustrating, maybe, but you can always dump your R&D points into reliability if you find yourself happy skipping some horsepower and downforce.
And, just to make things even more interesting, you’ll have events in your career that involve some sort of challenge or short race with a vintage car. They’re a nice variety in the middle of a season, and it gives Codemasters the ability to play around a little more with what an F1 career season can be.
On track, the game feels sublime. Handling is communicative, finding the right set-up feels easier than in previous games, and the difference in speed from last year is crazy. There were more than a few times where I found myself lifting and losing time in an area that it turns out you have to take flat in these new downforce monsters. It really illustrates to the normal F1 fan just how much more impressive these new cars have become. They’re more impressive, the presentation is more impressive, and, just like the series itself, it all seems to be on an upswing.
I want to recommend this game to anyone looking to experience F1 at home and to do so at their own pace. Nothing will quite open your eyes about the speed of these new cars like taking one out (virtually) for yourself. Even the most casual racing game fan would enjoy this one.
For me personally, it’s one of the best racing games I’ve ever played.
[Codemasters provided us with a review code for a free copy of the game.]