With Codemasters returning to form last year with F1 2016, it left me wondering “How can they make this better?” Well with F1 2017 they seem to have been able to do just that!
The new box art features some new drivers on the grid as well as the biggest smile from Daniel Ricciardo you will ever see. Why nobody else is smiling will be a mystery forever. I reckon Ricciardo just let out some gas and is loving it! With new regulations, new cars, new drivers, Codemasters have once again absolutely smashed it out of the Red Bull Ring with this game. Bringing new features, better visuals (most of the time) and great control.
Lets dive in and find out why.
As with last years game, F1 2017 brings controls that are responsive, light and rewarding when you hit that apex perfectly. Starting up the game for the first time you are greeted with a familiar looking menu setup if you have played the previous iteration of the game. Scrolling from left to right you can start your career, take part in a single grand prix event as well as time trial. There was one new addition and that was Events, these are custom events that have been uploaded for you to take part in and record your best score. However, with this being a review copy and nobody else having the game, this section wasn’t working and couldn’t be tested. Yet.
Then you have the multiplayer section, giving you access to races, championships, as well as allowing you to setup a custom championship and take on your friends and AI at the same time.
Heading into the career mode, you are greeted with the same kind of setup as last year. Pick a team to race for, each with their own objectives for the coming season and seasons down the road. Pick who you want as your team mate and then head out onto the first race in Australia. I opted for McLaren as my team, with Alonso as my team mate. I mean why wouldn’t you? After meeting your agent you are then sat down in the paddock at a desk similar to the last years iteration and with a laptop in front of you. I mean if it isn’t broken why fix it? Clicking through a few options takes you to the first session of F1 2017, Practice!
Once you are sat inside your car Jeff comes on the radio and introduces himself. He is your angel on your shoulder while driving your car. Getting weather information, lap times, distances to opponents and many more snippets of information all to you while you are streaking around the track.
Now we get to the actual racing, as per last year you have a number of practice programmes that you can take part in to earn resource and development points. As with last year, you have the Tyre Management, Acclimatisation as well as the fastest Lap programmes, but this year you have a couple of new ones added to the mix. Fuel Management – getting to you lift and coast to try and save as much fuel as possible, and then finally the programe that gives you 5 laps to set blistering lap times all within a set delta time. Once you have gone through the practice sessions and head to qualifying, there isn’t much to differ from F1 2016. It all plays out perfectly, from getting lap times, to AI drivers moving out of your way if you are on a hot lap, everything feels as it should. Nothing feels too out of place.
Setting the AI to a hard difficulty definitely makes them more racey, but they are also fair. If you put your nose down the inside you can assure that you wont get it taken off by the AI not knowing that you are there.
The research section of the career has been given an overhaul as well, and a new skill tree type system has been implemented this year. F1 2017 gives you much more control over the engine management, with you having to actually balance the engine units and gearbox allowances throughout the season. Feel free to change a gear box, but be warned that if you use more than your allocated 4 you will start to get grid penalties. So as you can imagine driving as the McLaren team I constantly get dropped to the back of the pack with poor reliability. However, develop that certain part of the skill tree and soon you will have engines that can run for miles and miles. Its one of the better additions to F1 2017.
Moving away from career mode for a minute will give you time to appreciate another great addition to F1 2017, Classic Cars! With 12 classic cars ranging from the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 to the 2010 Red Bull Racing RB6 they all feel different and they definitely sound different. As my career is taking place over at the McLaren garage, you get to drive in 4 iconic McLaren cars.
1988 McLaren MP4/4 – as driven by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna during the 1988 Formula 1™ season. The Honda-powered MP4/4 is one of the most iconic and dominant Formula One cars ever built, winning all but one race (15 out of 16) and claiming all but one pole position in the 1988 season. It was the car that powered Senna to his first world championship title.
1991 McLaren MP4/6 – During the 1991 season, this was driven by the then reigning World Champion Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger, and was considered by some to be the most competitive car ever at the time, taking eight wins and ten pole positions, and scored 148 points, with Senna winning his third and final world championship title.
1998 McLaren MP4-13 – In the 1998 F1™ season the MP4-13 was driven by Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard and again proved to be the dominant car of the season, with Häkkinen winning his first Drivers’ Championship, and McLaren’s securing their first constructor’s title since 1991.
2008 McLaren MP4-23 – the MP4-23 was driven by Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen in the 2008 season, and is notable for being the car in which Hamilton won his first World Drivers’ Championship in dramatic fashion at the Brazilian Grand Prix by overtaking Toyota’s Timo Glock on the final corner of the final lap of the final grand prix of the season, to claim the required 5th-place finish and win the Drivers’ title by a single point from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, and become at the time the youngest driver ever to win the title.
Each classic car drives how you would expect them to, with different handling models for each. You can feel out the technology has changed throughout the years.
With a full selection of tracks as well as a few alternative layouts, there is plenty of road miles to take in as you are driving around. Ever wondered what Monaco would be like at night, not a problem, you can do that too.
Controlling the game is easiest carried out with a controller, and with the myriad of assists that you can turn on it can be as easy or difficult as you like. I haven’t had the bravery yet to switch over to the steering wheel, but rest assured this will be covered in another article when I finally do.
Once again as per the previous iteration F1 2017 looks great, and with the addition of HDR support the game recreates the colours and lighting brilliantly. Moving to the car models, and they are spectacular, each curve is perfectly rendered with the shine of the bodywork reflecting everything around you. Even the Force India car looks brilliant with its bright pink livery.
The tracks are once again represented brilliantly, the camber in each corner to the humongous kerbs at Canada are all represented to absolute accuracy. It almost feels that you could set a fast lap time in a real car, if the speed wasn’t so scary!
Character models in the career are ok, they aren’t the best that you will ever see and they aren’t going to be going up against games like Battlefield or The Witcher in terms of realism, but they do the job. Facial animations are acceptable as well as the skin tones. Not once did i feel that i became disconnected from the game just because of the character models.
There was one slight graphical anomaly that I came across and this was while driving on the Abu Dhabi track. Heading down a long straight and all of a sudden the track textures started to move upwards on the screen as opposed to down as you would expect. Obviously I had reached such a speed where the textures were not able to keep up. It was peculiar, more so that I missed my braking point and ended up in the barrier.
The audio on F1 2017 is astounding. The cars are loud and proud, and the classic cars are even more so. The noise that comes out of the backs of some of these cars could be mistaken for a jet engine firing up.
Speech is clear and crisp and understandable at all times, even when Jeff comes on to the radio while you are in a race. If Jeff does get annoying, you can tell him to shut up and he will only give you the most important updates, like strategy changes and the like.
With the career mode taking on all 20 tracks this can take you as long or as short as you want. Fancy a full race weekend, with all three practice sessions, full race qualifying and a full race, then go for it. Just be warned that you will be there for a while. Alternatively just select a 5 lap race, with a one shot qualifying and you can fly through a whole season in the space of an afternoon. With the practice programmes taking the longest time, you can decide how much emphasis you want to put on moving from the back end of the pack to getting that podium. You entirely decide how long you want to be playing the game. On a personal note, the best options I have encountered are a 30 minute practice to get all the programmes in, followed by a full qualifying period, although you can skip the sessions once you have set a fast lap. Followed by a 25% race distance, giving you roughly between 12-18 laps depending on track length.
All in all Codemasters have once again smashed it. Another great iteration of the game, and with the added additions you could be playing this game for many many days. From the great visuals, to the classic cars, they have listened to what fans have asked for and they have put it straight into the heart of the game.
If you enjoy F1 games, then this is really an essential purchase, as as such F1 2017 receives the coveted Thumb Culture Platinum Award for an essential purchase for any racing fan.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.