F1 car design has come a long way through the decades, weather that is for better or for worse is another debate in itself, but the cars are certainly different beasts now to what they were 12 months ago, let alone 12 years and beyond.
F1 2017 allows you to go back and relive some of the Formula’s most iconic cars, from the dominance of 1988’s McLaren MP4/4 to 2010’s Redbull RB6, the car that took Vettel to the first of his 4 successive world championships. Once you’ve stopped swooning over their beauty, you’ll find that Codemasters have the 2017 cars appealing too.
In arguably the best outing by the franchise since the studio took on the license in 2010, F1 2017 is a game flooded with content at every corner, a worthy successor to last years game, which proved to be a huge step forward for the studio.
The game sets a huge precedence upon the games career mode, which allows the player to take a seat with any team, be it replacing the newly retired Nico Rosberg at the front of the grid, or making your attempt and bringing McLaren back to glory, career mode leads the player through 10 full seasons of racing.
Much like any job at this level, you’re introduced to your agent, who’ll be handling your relations with the team, as well as contacts to get you into invitational events. These invitational events involve the classic cars implemented into the game, which is a welcome addition. Codemasters last added classic cars into the F1 franchise in 2013, and these were very much separate from the base game. Their inclusion makes them feel much more integral. The career mode will have you tackling not just the races, but the research and development of your car, using points gained through practise, qualifying and races.
The practise sessions all have their objectives, the completion of which grants research points, as well as helping you to dial in your setup and strategy. The team will have you getting acquainted with the track, making fuel saving runs and more, as you set to give yourself every advantage over the rest of the field.
All of this sets you up for qualifying, where you are given your team expectations, and then try your best to get one over your team-mate. F1 2017 allows you to run one-shot, short, and full qualifying sessions, allowing the player to choose their preferred level of complexity. The race is very similar, with lap and percentage distances available, allowing the player to tailor their experience to their liking.
Running a full race weekend the way in which F1 2017’s career mode does helps greatly with the immersion of the game, putting you into every aspect of being an F1 driver aside from press events, which I would love to see implemented akin to 2K Games’ sports series, which would add that extra level of immersion to the game.
Sadly, there are a few areas which really help to disorientate the level of immersion on offer. Hearing the commentary refer to me as ‘A Mercedes’ on the grid just removes you from the experience for me. I loved the system in games such as Grid and earlier Dirt titles, where the announcer would refer to you by name. While drivers are often exclusively referred to by surname, even hearing the commentary say a first name would further cement the immersion. Hearing track announcers talking about the racer I have actually replaced on the grid, and the copy-paste celebrations removes any of the personality from the field of drivers. You wouldn’t expect kimi Raikkonen grinning from ear to ear as he takes the trophy, yet you would expect someone like Estaban Ocon to be jumping out of his skin at his first race win. These small elements to bring more of the F1 grids personality to the game would be welcome.
Visually the game looks fantastic, as we can expect from a Codemasters racing title. The cars look great, the damage model is nicely presented, allowing you to lose sections of your wing, as opposed to other racers where a small tap causes your whole nose to fly off into the next weekend. Visually the game is easily comparable to their last title, Dirt 4.
Sound is where the game does seem to lose some of the flair we have come to know from Codemasters over the years. For me Dirt Rally is the pinnacle of audio from Codemasters, and sadly F1 2017 just falls short. At first I thought it was just the nature of the modern cars, but even the classics don’t quite feel authentic. The lack of audio cues on track also adds to this.
On both a controller and a wheel (tested on a Thrustmaster TMX Pro) this game feels great. The feedback isn’t going to be blowing more focused sims away, but still provides the player with the feel that they need to get the car around the track at pace. the inclusion of a medium traction control setting is great for those getting used to driving on a wheel also.
Despite some immersion breaks, the sheer level of modes and features really make F1 2017 a game of immense replay ability. With obvious features alongside the career mode such as multiplayer and single race, it is the championships mode which brings huge amounts of depth and longevity to the title. From extended race weekends such as double headers, similar to Forumla E, and spec series (utilising the classic cars from the game) allows players to explore different aspects of racing and even craft their own championships.
The game has added a difficulty slider for the AI, really allowing the player to gain an experience that is challenging, without having any middle-ground between the game being a cakewalk and impossible, which has often been a problem of games with set difficulty modes. The AI is also great this year, gone are the trains of cars, or when the appear ahead you can see the cars battling each other, which has lead to some brilliant exciting racing. The AI isn’t a pushover either, they will sit beside you and really make you earn your position.
overall F1 2017 is a fantastic racing game, with a huge career with in-depth R&D and focus, that sadly lacks some immersion that would take the career to the next level. The sheer level of content available for the player, through invitational events to custom championships, classic F1 cars, as well as a fantastic customisable AI, help to make F1 2017 an experience any fan can enjoy.
F1 2017 will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC August 25.