Full disclaimer: I’m not a seasoned veteran when it comes to Formula 1.
So why am I reviewing the latest F1 video game? Well, I wanted to see whether a complete amateur, such as myself, could jump into the series with fresh eyes and actually enjoy it. Most video games based on a sport can be quite intimidating, as they’re control schemes are often overly complex and the game can get lost in the details.
After booting up F1 2017 for the first time I was of course struck by just how detailed and in-depth everything was. When it comes to fine tuning your car there’s an almost limitless set of options for F1 fans to choose from. This latest version of the game adds an RPG-esque skill tree to the development of your car and everything is taken down to a granular level, so much so that I initially found it a bit intimidating. That said, you do get taught the ins and outs, but it will require your undivided attention.
Happily enough jumping into a race feels accessible and, more importantly, a lot of fun. I may not know much about F1, but I do know that completing a lap time as fast as humanly possible in a bid to squeeze everything out of your chosen car, is crucial when it comes to success. I’ve begun to relish any opportunity to learn each tracks’ layout inside and out, in order to nail a better lap time on each round I race. It’s an addictive adrenaline rush of speed and split-second decision making and triumphing over my opponents is very satisfying. The dynamic weather system also does a good job of presenting an often hazardous and unpredictable dash around each track. Also, f**k the rain.
The said, I’m still getting to grips with the complexities of the sport, including the wear and tear that your car goes through during a race. Maintaining your car’s reliability is an important part of Formula One, of course anyone who follows the sport will know this, but for newcomers it brings a bit of a learning curve. It’s a bit of a juggling act as you participate in races, look after your car’s condition and try to avoid gut-wrenching penalties.
F1 2017’s main draw is its expanded ‘Career’ mode, which takes players through the paces of a professional driver. It’s a detailed journey that helped to give me a better impression of the sport and whilst there is a lot to take on board everything is thoroughly explained. In addition to the campaign there’s also competitive ‘Multiplayer’ and the inclusion of classic F1 cars for the first time since 2013’s version of the game. I had a good bit of fun racing against friends, whilst I attempted to attain the fastest lap time and overtake them without trashing my car – or theirs for that matter!
The newly added ‘Championships’ mode also offers a neat bit of variety and allowed me to jump into a range of pre-set races, including a classic car or all-weather championship. Taking part in these will help you to hone your skills across a number of different exercises, each one presenting a selection of challenges that will broaden your racing experience. Any of the invitational events that players unlock in the career can also be replayed in one off races. Rounding off the gameplay modes are single ‘Events’, ‘Grand Prix’ and ‘Time Trials’.
Codemaster’s care and attention to detail has opened my eyes and shown me how thrilling and beautiful the sport of F1 really is. If you’re already a loyal follower of F1, I find it hard to see how the dev team can top this year’s iteration. If you’re a fresh face to the sport then rest assured that there’s plenty of room to slowly ease you into its hair raising gameplay.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to set a world record lap time at Monaco.