Another year, another helping of Formula 1 by Codemasters in the shape of F1 2018 and lets get this straight right from the start; I have been a fan of these games for as long as I can remember, not to mention, the sport itself.
In this day and age of what I would call ‘lazy developers’ who rehash the same game every year, what makes the F1 franchise any different? Well, its simple. In an ever changing sport where the car designs are constantly being updated, not to mention rule changes and additional tracks every year, the game has to adapt to all of these details as well. Its not like the sport games that EA churn out every year and become very repetitive, there are big changes year in and year out in this franchise.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get chance to play F1 2017 so in all honesty I’m not sure what that game had to offer. The last I played was F1 2016, so for that reason parts of this review may have happened last year and are nothing new, but I will approach it as if I have never played the game.
So what can you expect when you load up the game?
Well, there are various game modes to occupy your time. From the obvious career mode which is the main part of the game and I will go into more detail soon, you can also take part in a single Grand Prix, try out some Time Trials, take your skills online in Multiplayer and also a Championships section where you can take on the giants of the Formula 1 world. Within the final section is also Invitational Events. These are events which happen during your career and you can replay them here. A lot of which, using some of the older and more famous cars built over the years.
Career Mode is the most in depth part of the game for obvious reasons, starting off by designing your very own driver. You start as a complete rookie to Formula 1, but through race wins, pole positions and completing various tasks set by the team of your choice you will slowly make your way up the progression ladder to becoming a veteran within the sport.
Entering into your first race weekend brings you the 3 practice sessions, one shot qualifying (looks like they did away with full qualifying that they had in the past) and finally the race itself.
Its important to take part in the practice sessions as completing the various tasks available for each circuit increases the points you can spend on Research and Development, and this plays a major part within the game. The team tasks you with six programmes to complete on each track and also there are 5 team objectives to complete.
Track Acclimatisation is designed to help drivers to learn the track layout, its racing line and breaking points. During the test you will be judged on your ability to drive through a series of gates placed around each corner.
Tyre Management is a crucial part of the sport. Understanding how your driving affects the lifespan of the tyres. You can extend the life of the tyres by being less aggressive on the throttle and steering.
Fuel Management programme tests your ability to save fuel by lifting off the accelerator and coasting whilst at the same time maintaining a competitive overall lap time.
ERS Management tests a drivers ability to conserve harvested energy in the car effectively.
Qualifying Pace is where you drive flat out around the circuit trying to beat a set time.
Race Strategy is all about driving consistent laps to give the team an idea of tyre wear and fuel usage.
Hit the purple sectors in all of these to gain the maximum amount of points to be able to spend on researching new car parts. It is important to upgrade the cars parts as the season progresses so that you have a competitive car and this doesn’t happen to you..
Once those sessions are out of the way, its on to qualifying which is pretty straight forward, and then, the race. Now, in 2018, the governing body of Formula 1 introduced extra DRS points on certain tracks which have all been included within the game. So for most tracks on the calendar during 2017, there were 2 DRS points (where you can flip open your spoiler to allow the car to go faster if you were within 1 second of the car in front). Now, some tracks have 3 of these sections as they do during an official race weekend. Also, there was the inclusion of a new track in France. This is included within the game and the detailing of the course is fantastic. In fact, all of the tracks within the game are highly accurate to real life. Don’t expect the graphics to be up to Gran Turismo standards, however, everything does look very nice.
Changing weather dynamics during a race also work well. You can start the race in the dry and then after a few laps the rain will be bouncing off the tarmac. Then, as it eases off, you will notice a dry line starting to form where cars are drying the track out. Move off this dry line and the cars handling will change losing front wheel grip, or the rear tyres to skid out.
I mentioned the Research and Development above being a large part of your career. Your car is made up of many parts which all work in sequence and also damage and degrade at different rates. The Research part is split into 4 categories which cover the aerodynamics, the chassis, the powertrain and durability. Within these are a whole host of upgrades which improve reliability and overall competitiveness of the car. Don’t forget that as the season progresses, the other teams are also developing their cars, so if you don’t take the time to work on these you will struggle to compete against even the Williams cars.
Your contract is also evolving with time. A graphic shows your current worth within the team, When contract talks start you can add little incentives to raise reliability of parts, reduce pit times etc, but this adds to the value of the contract. If you ask for more than you are worth within the team, the contract will be denied and you will have to drop some of your demands.
In between your various sessions over a race weekend you will be approached by the press to ask you questions. The answers to these questions have a knock on effect. If you speak highly of one area of research, this will give a boost to that department, but you can also choose to be arrogant in answers about other drivers or alternatively be modest which then effects your overall attitude. My one major complaint about this is that you have a choice of 4 answers normally, but only a few seconds to answer each question. The answers in front of you can be quite long to read and you end up running out of time to read them all before making a decision. I’m not fully sure why there has to be a time limit on your answers to the questions. If it was a part of online then I could understand you’re not holding up the game for other players, but its not needed in a single player mode.
Once a race weekend is over with, you will sometimes have the chance to be invited to take part in Invitational Events which mainly focus on some of the all time great F1 cars being driven to complete various on track tasks such as Check Point challenges, Overtake challenges, Pursuit and Time Attack. These can also be accessed under the Championships option from the main menu if you wish to try them again. The base game on release will feature 20 classic cars. The Headline Edition will feature a few more classics. I was lucky enough to be given access to download the additional cars with my review copy.
One touch I really do like from this game is the online part of it. I couldn’t test it out as I received my review copy before the game was released, so there wasn’t anyone else playing online, but I did notice that there is the option to vote for a race using the all time classic cars of the sport which I think is a great idea. As the base game will feature a large number of classic cars, this will be available to everyone.
One thing that I really did notice from the start is the attention to detail, no matter how small. If you hit a car in front of you, you will damage the front wing, however that also depends on the rate of contact. If its a small bump then you may just loose and end plate off the wing. A higher rate of impact and you can loose all of the fancy aerofoils designed to pass the air over the car. Even higher than that and you will loose the front wing completely and basically loose the ability to steer the car until you limp back to the pits and have it replaced.
It goes even further than that though. My first race in Melbourne, when I was qualifying I ran wide in one corner and ended up in the gravel. I managed to claim pole position for the race even after this had happened. When I was lined up on the grid I decided to have a look at the Photo Mode within the game, something I will get to in a bit, and noticed that the damage caused during the qualifying had rolled over on my car to the race. This is a great touch and something you wouldn’t really notice. For me, its all in the little details in games like this.
I went into some detail of the Championship option from within the main menu and how you can replay the challenges that are given to you throughout your career in between races. Well here are all the cars that you can use in their glory. I think you will agree they all look as amazing as when they were being driven in anger for championship points.
The photos above were all taken with the photo option that is available within the game. I found this to be rather addictive and I have no idea why. You can replay the last few seconds of your race, pause the footage at a certain point and enter into the mode. There you will find lots of tricks to make your images look brilliant. I’m no expert, but here’s some of my attempts..
As well as the option to attempt and replay challenges, there’s also a Championships mode within the Championships menu. From here it gives you access to various different championships which will give you points which stack up. You can play the entire F1 2018 season from here, but there are also Classic Championships with a range of older cars to choose from. The more stars you recieve for completing Championships, the more Championships unlock for you to compete in.
I think that pretty much now covers the game and whats available. Certainly enough to keep you busy for a very long time and also challenge you in your driving ability.
The games plays extremely well. I haven’t encountered any issues with it that would dissuade me in recommending the game to anyone. It’s a really fun game to play over and over and I can’t wait to get stuck into some online racing now I’ve played through all the other options that are available within the game. As I have mentioned earlier, the graphics may not be the best that are available on the PS4, but I have seen a lot worse. I have no issues with them and all the tracks that are in the game, including variations on the Formula 1 circuits look great. The engine sounds are genuine, but taking control of older cars made me miss the V8 engines that were scrapped. I had forgotten just how nice they sounded; it was always how F1 should sound and Codemasters have captured those days perfectly.
If you’re a racing fan then this is one for the collection and I have no hesitation in giving it a solid 10/10. Its the must buy game to help you get your F1 fix between actual race weekends.
F1 2018 will be available to buy from the 24th August across all major platforms.
**Please note that AIR Entertainment were kindly supplied with a review copy of the game, and this has in no way swayed my opinion on the game**