Title: F1 2017
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publishers: Koch Media
Release Date: August 25, 2017
TL;DR: A great looking game that’s deep enough for racing purists and newcomers alike.
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Codemasters haven’t rested on their laurels since releasing Dirt4; instead, they’ve been putting the finishing touches on what can only be called the genteel relative of the rallycross game – F1 2017. Whilst Dirt4 re-creates the frantic rallycross style of racing, F1 returns with a more refined and nuanced approach, expanding on the previous iteration in nearly every possible way. And whilst the game won’t be for every racing fan, it’s a game that has managed well to strike a balance in gameplay that’s accessible to casual players, yet hosts a multitude of tools designed to give experienced players a new way to challenge and experiment,
Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a racing game if there weren’t a few cars to try out, and F1 returns with a solid roster of modern and classic cars from across the F1 era. With returning teams like Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault, and more, fans of the sport will be familiar with the models that are represented in the game. My only concern is that – as a casual racing game player – the modern cars felt somewhat indistinguishable. You can mess around with the customisation features to alter the weight differentiation of the car, the brake effectiveness, and so on – but unless you know what you’re doing, it’ll take some time to understand the effects of you tampering.
A quicker way to experiment with the customisation is to use one of the presets for the cars, allowing you to put an emphasis on stability with downforce, or increase top-speed. The similarities between the cars is not so overwhelming that it simply doesn’t matter which car you choose, but it does feel as if the onus was on getting the look of the cars right – and they do look bloody great, it’s fairly easy to crash into a barrier because you were too busy getting a side view of you car speeding across the track.
That said, when you take to the track, don’t expect an easy time; the game doesn’t apologise or try to make it easy for you to learn how to make your way around. A lot of importance was placed on how much heavier the cars felt in this year’s iteration, and it’s a change that has brought a greater emphasis to the customisation of your cars, which can be done prior to and during a race. It can be a little finicky initially, trying to alter brake efficiency and downforce as you try not to crash, but the decision compliments surrounding features like the dynamic weather well, as you’ll be able to adjust your vehicle to combat the terrain and weather conditions in a surprisingly satisfying way when you get it right.
In addition to the modern roster, you’ll get a chance to control some of the most iconic cars from across the F1 era, as the classic cars are welcomed into the game. These classic cars, which include a ggreat selection of iconic cars, do seem to feel more different when you’re handling one from the other, meaning that you’ll want to try each one out to find one that suits your racing style – be that slow and steady, or fast and… crashy.
A nice addition to the role of the classic cars that could have been viewed as fairly overpowered or simply gimmicky rides, is the role they’ll play in this year’s career mode. Special events that are co-ordinated by a jumped up yuppie by the name of Jonathan will allow players to compete in special races that will see you take control of some of the classic cars on offer. It’s a nice addition that brings a sense of necessity rather than being a gimmick within the game. And speaking of career mode…
Building on the success of F1 2016’s career, F1 2017 has refined the aspects of the game that players seemed to connect with most. You’ll be jumping straight into the world of competitive racing after signing to one of nine teams. It’s easy to see where the devs have improved on the career mode this time round, with more environments to help build on the realism of the game; your agent now has an office in which you’ll be able to sign contracts and be sacked in solitude.
Your personal development team also gets a small office in which you can improve your skills and order new development projects that will add that little bit extra to your races. A pretty great move by Codemasters this time round was to make it clear that the projects undertaken by R&D won’t always be successful, or the impact the development has won’t be as great as first expected. It’s another one of those features that brings a sense of realism to the game in a wholly unapologetic way.
Reviewing a sports game is always a difficult task, as you’re writing about something that is far from a new game. F1 2017 is by no means any different from the other sports games that go through annual releases, but Codemasters haven’t tried to sell this as a game that is a huge departure from last year’s version. Instead they’ve been fairly honest about what F1 2017 is – a game that has refined the gameplay and graphics in a very noticeable way; they’ve improved aspects of the game that felt a little redundant in previous titles, and tried to make the tracks feel more like a variable during the race, with changing weather having a big say in the way you race. Don’t get me wrong, fans of Need for Speed and Forza Horizon probably won’t feel at home with the methodical approach to racing in F1 2017, but fans of Dirt 4 and F1 racing will find a worthy addition to their games collection in F1 2017.
The game looks amazing – you will be watching replays of races just to grab a perfect shot – probably quite a lot.
The refinements made to the career mode help to push the franchises’ world along well, with a couple of varied environments.
The differentiation of game modes mean there’s always something for you to do, whether it’s a full on Grand Prix or just a time trial through a short circuit.
You’ll spend quite a bit of time participating in practice runs on career mode which can become very tiresome very quickly, but realism comes at a cost, I suppose.
With the level of detail brought to some of the more superfluous environments, it would’ve been nice to see some more detail on the exterior of the tracks themselves.
The customisation is thoroughly detailed, but it may go over a lot of casual players’ heads.
The game is rated PEGI 3 in the UK and E for Everybody in the US. It won’t be as exciting as other racing games for your kids to play, but if you and your kids are racing fans, then it’ll be a fun game to share a career on.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the developer for the purposes of this review