The biggest flaw with annualised games is that they tend to have very small and minor upgrades that serve the hardcore fan-base. This usually means they are fairly similar to the previous game and impenetrable to newcomers and casual players. So, when F1 2017 showed up at my door I was also expecting the same, but I was wrong.
The usual suspects with game modes are present; Career, Grand Prix, Time Trial, Multiplayer and Championships. However, a new option called “Events” has also been added, this is a specific downloadable scenario that gives you multiple objectives to complete. These objectives are scored with points and you will compete with players around the world and get ready to be brought back down to Earth, because they are good, really good.
Career mode is where you will likely go first, design your racer and chose form 44 preset faces as well as a few females. Tweaks are minor, such as colour palette changes for helmet colours, but they are nice to have. Once you start you are given the option to adjust the challenge to your liking, and I think the developers may have set the record for the number of difficulty levels in any game. 110 to be exact! From Very Easy to Ultimate, all on a slider that changes the assists and competitor AI. It truly allows any level of gamer to play the game at their own pace without removing the fun.
The tuning doesn’t stop there; resource points have also been added to help you upgrade your vehicle in the “R&D Tree”. This is incredibly elaborate and quite a lot to take in at first glance, from Aerodynamics to Durability. At any time outside of the race you can assign the RP’s to anywhere you deem is necessary, but you don’t get many points to use on your first career which is a shame, and tweaks are not really noticeable. From my previous experience with F1 games, this is the first time you’ve been able to customise your vehicle to this level of detail.
Races involve the usual practice sessions, qualifying and the main event itself. These can be tweaked for shorter gameplay segments, but if you have the time I would recommend the “25%” race length as a minimum. It introduces pit stop strategy and tyre wear that can create a brilliant level of tension and, in turn, elation when you manage to stay ahead of the pack after a desperate tyre change. I love how you can feel the car degrade in the lap, and as soon as fresh boots are on the car you can tell it is alive once again. You are also limited to parts per season, and have to micro-manage between them. They all have a specific lifespan and you have to adjust accordingly throughout the season.
The biggest problem with long F1 races was a simple mistake could cost you minutes and sometimes hours of gameplay, but Codemasters have you covered here with the “Flashback” feature, again this is limited at certain difficulties and can be used infinitely at the lower ones, it works flawlessly and is super quick (note this review was done on a digital download version of the game). Press the touch-pad and when you are happy to resume hit the square button and in less than a second you are back in control and hopefully rectifying any early mistakes.
Throughout the Career mode you will unlock more features, some more useful than others like the invitational events. There are fun little side missions that can be replayed in the Grand Prix mode, or the “Driver Rivalry” stuff, although these are ultimately pointless, and are simply there to add a false competition between a random racer. Once you beat them in 30 aspects it resets and a new rival is selected. It simply isn’t needed.
All 20 races in a usual season are fully rendered all the way from Melbourne, Australia to Abu Dhabi. Every stage has been expertly recreated and they all look great, notably the narrow road nightmare that is Monaco, thank God for the Flashback feature!
Multiplayer allows for up to 20 players in a single race, and it is intense, but if you manage to pull out in front you will likely stay there. Collisions are enabled and the rules are strict; cut corners too often or collide with players too much you will be disqualified. This mode is for serious players, so be wary.
F1 2017 is possibly the best Formula One racing game ever made. It is fluid, looks great and plays just as well bar a few spots where the screen tearing is substantial. The levels of tweaking will allow any player to enjoy themselves in the game and I highly recommend you play this if you are a fan, if you have not played one of these in a while, or if you have a slight interest in the genre, it has all you need.
- Replay Value