I can openly admit that I’m one of the least knowledgeable people you’re going to meet when it comes to Formula 1 Racing. Being from the United States, I would be surprised if it ranked above sailing or the WNBA in terms of popularity. I’ve never seen it on television, I’m not familiar with the more complex rules and out of the eight men on the cover, I can’t name a single one. Why am I reviewing it then? To try and give an established series a look through fresh eyes. There is no franchise fatigue, no bias towards one group of car manufacturers. How is the racing? The career mode? The presentation? Buckle up while I give this my best shot.
After a bit of research on the series in preparation for the review, there seem to be some common consensus. In previous years, Codemasters really nailed the feel and controls of the cars, but the overall package was lacking. F1 2016 is widely regarded as probably the best in the series, with fans eagerly awaiting F1 2017 and it’s potential to be even grander. I was immediately impressed with the level of presentation and polish from the opening moments. The menus are slick, the six main game options are all meaningful and even the seamless musical transitions as you navigate your way just exude attention-to-detail.
The six game modes should be very familiar for anyone with experience in the series. Career mode lets you create your own character, assign them to a team and work your way through a 10-year career. Grand Prix allows you to compete in an individual race weekend or build your own series. Multiplayer is obvious with public, custom and online championship options. Time trials are self-explanatory. Event mode is racing scenarios that have specific objectives, usually at high action moments. Finally, Championships mode has you competing in specific events to try and earn medals. It doesn’t take a genius to see that racing fans will have plenty to do.
As I learned the controls of the game, things started off simple enough. A speed/path indicator shines green along the road when your speed is good and will then change to red if you are going to fast or yellow if you are somewhere in between. This was important for me as a novice because there are a lot of sharp turns and areas where a driver can get completely screwed up. Turn too wide and you end up in rocks, grass or worse…a wall. Get too crowded up and bump other racers and you will be docked time and possibly disqualified. Before long racing felt mostly natural and despite sometimes going too fast, I could make my way through most of what the game threw at me. The whole time, my crew was feeding me information about when to pit and my standing with the officials. When a race ended there was a nice cinematic of either the winners or my character walking off the track after retiring.
The career mode is likely the main course for fans who opt to play single player. During my career, I participated in extensive practice sessions before a race. Completing objectives earned me resource points that I then used to upgrade my car through an extensive skill tree. As time went on, I competed against a rival within my team, raced in qualifiers and events, kept in contact with my agent and overall just felt as though I was a real-life racing star. Other single player modes like Grand Prix allow you to also race with classic F1 cars like the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 or the 1995 Ferrari 412 T2. It was cool seeing some of these cars from the late 80s/early 90s because that’s when I was a youngster and it shows how far that auto technology has come. These cars felt noticeably different from modern ones, but a nice change of pace none-the-less. With the throwback cars it would have been cool to see some retro courses or classic racers though!
While I can’t speak to previous games in the series, F1 2017 looks good graphically to me. Whether I was racing from the cockpit or rear view, things flowed fast and furiously. There’s a nice variety of courses from around the world including: Russia, Spain, USA, Britain, Australia and more. Some locations have “short” course versions available and you can toggle between dry and wet conditions. Character models in career mode don’t have that top notch facial quality I would expect from something like NBA 2K, but it is respectable and looked good in its own way. Presentation is one of F1 2017’s biggest and best qualities.
F1 2017 is one of those games that is easy to recommend but hard to review for a series newbie. If you are a diehard Formula 1 fan you really don’t need a review to convince you to buy 2017. Get it now while the limited time DLC (1988 McLaren) is offered for free. If you are a series newbie looking to get your feet wet like me, it might be wiser to buy last years version or 2015. The investment will be considerably less than F1 2017 ($59.99 USD) and less harm done should you decide you aren’t a fan. Regardless of your position, when it comes to authenticity and racing fun, Formula 1 2017 is the total package.
A copy of F1 2017 Special Edition was provided by Codemasters for this review. The Special Edition includes the DLC 1988 McLaren MP4/4 for free until October 17th, 2017.