If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it seems to be Codemasters mantra when it comes to it’s F1 series of games. Unlike TOCCA Touring Cars or Colin McRae, which went under massive changes through out the course of their respective releases, F1 predictably stays the same. BUt one could say that of F1 itself.
So yes, as a driving game, F1 2017 is pretty much the same as F1 2016. A damn good game, but on the surface, it looks almost identical.
There is one fairly obvious change, Codemasters has added a line-up of classic cars and invitational events to F1 2017’s career mode. This is done through the owner of the team you choose, wanting you to get more publicity for him.
Career mode is of course where serious racers go, and there’s a very cinematic feel to the career mode, and by cinematic, I mean a plethora of cut scenes that seem to be nothing more than a way to waste your time in between races. Of course it’s probably just Codemasters trying to give you an authentic feel for the life of a F1 driver.
The new stuff in career mode is the nitty gritty stuff that has an effect on how you race, rather than the racing itself, like directing the R & D department, changing components between races, monitoring wear and tear and incurring penalties should you use more than the allotted number of parts in a season. Yes, that’s right, this is the counting nuts and bolts realism of the sport, it the extra layer of realism that you probably only find in F1. And after all, this is what the drivers have to contend with, so why not you.
Once you get behind the car, things feel and (sadly) look just the same as F1 2016, though the car seems to have a better relationship with the asphalt, seemingly gripping a lot better. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the visuals, in this day and age you expect to be wowed by how good a game looks, take Forza Horizon 3 for example. The play area was so much bigger, but it was also visually much more spectacular. That’s what I think is missing from F1. There is no WOW factor. Unless counting nuts and bolts is you thing.
But visuals aside, F! excels in the racing department, and you can tell Codemasters have put the time and effort into the AI, and how they respond to you and each other. As well as the handling of your own car. It’s these little tweaks that make all the difference when you’re chasing down a podium finish. And not all the cars will finish the race. Remember the nuts and bolts, well the wear and tear will cause mechanical failures, breakdowns and such, not only to you, but also the AI drivers.
And this is where F1 2017 sets itself apart. It’s a realistic racing game that brings together all the aspects of the sport.
Of course, if the authentic experience isn’t your thing – you probably should be waiting for the next Need For Speed game – then Championship mode is where you’ll spend most of your time, with the focus solely on the racing. Modern or classic cars, the choice is up to you. Get out and just race. No micro managing, no team goals, no targets. Just. Pure. Racing.
All in all, whilst I could moan about this and that, Codemasters have put their time and effort into making the game a better F1 experience, and this what a game like this needs.
Rating: G Suitable for general audiences.