F1 2017 Review
Brace yourselves, Formula One fans, because you will find that this F1 title is going to give you quite an exceptional experience, especially if you live and breathe the Formula One sport.
Codemasters brings us the new F1 2017 game that has been released as of 25 August 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows, and is the ninth installment in the Formula One video games franchise. Reception for the game has been very positive, even being praised by the motorsport magazine, Autosport, for adding depth to all the features introduced in F1 2016. The overall good reception is a good sign, however I found that the game involves more iteration than innovation in contrast to F1 2016, but still barely surpasses it.
F1 2017 revolves around as is based on the 2017 Formula One season, which includes all of the twenty circuits, all twenty drivers, and all ten teams competing in the season. When you start, you are greeted by the screen where you need to choose your avatar from a list of pre-made character models. There are quite a multitude of them to choose from, even including female avatars for female players, or even if you’re male and want to change up from the norm. There aren’t as many female avatars to choose from, which was a little disappointing, but I guess it makes sense since you find there are more male drivers in the world of Formula One than there are females. After this, you choose your helmet and car number, which you’ll be able to design and customise at a later stage. Choose your nationality, name your character, and give your abbreviated name, and then you’ll get to see your avatar’s Register Details to review in case you might want to change them. After confirmation, you choose the team you want to race with. I quite liked the idea of racing for either Mercedes or Red Bull, but of course there are many more to choose from, and depending on which team you choose, you get Career Score bonuses, and different challenges and goals that you need to meet, some being more or less difficult than others. You then choose your teammate, and your Career Weekend Structure, changing your Qualifying settings, Race preferences, and AI Driver Level difficulty, etc.
Finally the cinematic begins with you walking into the Office of your team choice to meet with Emma Jenkins, who apparently makes a return to be your Agent. Admittedly, I haven’t had much exposure to these Formula One titles, so I had no idea what I would be getting myself into when I first launched the game. Everything looked pretty straight-forward, but I had no idea how involved this game actually was, and is in every sense of the term, a racing sports sim. After your debrief with Emma, you go to your laptop where you see your avatar’s profile, and many other things, such as a News Feed, giving you Part updates, telling you how many of which tyres you have, for example, a Weather Forecast, and location updates. Move on to Vehicle Management, and this is where I was blown away. Under Vehicle Management, you get an Overview of every part, with expected lifespans and overall wear done to the parts in question. You can either then, later on, change the parts, which takes up physical time, or get a new part, which will give you a grid penalty. The objectives given on each part gives you a feel for how the real Grand Prix races are like. For example, in the game, you need to treat your car with such care, that it’s expected of you to make sure the gearbox lasts for 6 Races. I learnt exactly how tough this is to accomplish… Naturally, when you’re able to upgrade the parts in R&D, the wear rate decreases, so you need to strategise which parts need to be upgraded first to be able to make sure that these goals are met, instead of wasting parts.
I mentioned Research & Development part upgrades before, and that’s gonna be the first place you visit the second you gain enough Resource Points. After your qualifying race, you get introduced to the R&D team, and get shown to your laptop where they’ve integrated the R&D Tree to your interface, where you decide where you spend your points. This is reminiscent of RPG Games, where you level up your character with the skill points you gain during quests and such. So I guess this can be seen as a Racing RPG? You get rewarded a free 2500 points from the team to start out with, which I immediately spent by reducing general wear on parts, reducing weight in the undertray and improving the ignition system. I felt a little relieved that my gearbox, especially, won’t wear as quickly anymore! The R&D team is such a cool bunch too. If you’re not certain what is to be prioritised in terms of upgrades, you can ask for their opinion by pressing the “Recommended Upgrade” button. You will then get taken to the necessary upgrade where you will be able to spend the points you have if available (You unlock a tropy by spending points on the suggested upgrade even).
With this year’s shake-up in the Formula One season car regulations, we have been given bigger cars with wider tyres! Which means the cars are a tad heavier, but majorly faster. This change has been implemented into F1 2017, which rewards us with better grip and speed in these new cars. The grip that these Formula One vehicles have is amazing and noticeable, especially to the long-standing fanbase who have followed the game series. The cars feel like they’re clinging to the road tenaciously, and you can even notice the difference in the types of tyres you apply and use, such as the standard Soft types or Ultra Soft. I quite liked the HUD that the game gives you during races, where you’re able to monitor the wear on the parts as you go. As you can see, you need to manage pretty much every aspect of what goes on with your car. The insides and outsides need to be taken care of as best as possible, so do not drive like a maniac! (No matter how tempted you may be!) This is honestly quite an extraordinary feature in a racing game, and I can just imagine how realistic it would feel using a steering wheel. Make sure you know how these mechanics work, so that you can strategise appropriately. You don’t want to risk losing a gear mid-race. The stress gets to you, just like I’m sure it would to the real Grand Prix professionals.
Before each race, you are able to customise your race strategy for the event, choosing and managing pit-stop plans, as well as the amount of fuel you have in the car, reducing overall weight in your car. You then need to manage your fuel-usage in the race to make sure you can actually finish the race. You’re able to do this in the HUD I mentioned before too. With settings like this, every race feels like a new experience. As you progress in the game, your driver will be invited to compete in events where they drive classic F1 cars, which is something that happened in F1 2013 as well, with 11 extra F1 icons from five teams included, like Schumacher’s 2004 Ferrari. They feel quite unique to the modern cars, and each other, so it’s a lot of fun being able to compare them, and they definitely sound better to the usual F1 cars.
The experience provided gives us an authentic feel in Career mode. The realism and challenge is pretty fun, though I guess the problem also comes in when realising that there are no new circuits that have been added to the 2017 calendar, meaning we have to settle for the same tracks we were given in F1 2016. New short routes have been added to four of them, which are usable in Custom Grand Prix races and Time Trials, but naturally this isn’t a major addition to the overall package. Though I think the overall aesthetics of the tracks make up for a lack in different circuits. The environments are absolutely stunning, vibrant, and pretty darn realistic. The grasses are a lush, deep green, with skies that shine a brilliant blue. Even on the rainy days, when dreary weather threatens to ruin the day, do the visuals give us a treat for the eyes. The realism doesn’t stop with merely vehicle and race management. The rain drops splash and create effects on the display, with water running down the screen as it would when you are wearing the helmet. I really enjoyed the night drives though, especially being able to enjoy the sights provided by the neon glow of Singapore’s skyscrapers! However, characters still need a bit of improvement done on them. The contrast between the beautiful environments and the people are immediately apparent. It’s not a game changer, but still something that requires improvement.
F1 2017 has been a really interesting experience. I never thought I would ever need to manage my vehicle’s performance and the wear done to the parts so meticulously as I have been required to do. It gave me a new appreciation for the professionals that need to take this into account during Grand Prix circuits. The realism provided an authentic yet enjoyable challenge, and the landscapes make the experience so much more enjoyable too. Considering that this is a Formula One game, the soundtrack was quite enjoyable too inbetween races. There aren’t many audio tracks to enjoy, but you hardly get the chance to anyway. The R&D Upgrade Tree was a neat thing to see in a racing game, seeing as I’m more used to seeing that in RPG games, but it worked brilliantly and did the job. If you are a Formula One fan, then this game will be a favourite for a long time! At the time of this review, you can get your copy from BTGames for R555.00 for PC, and R825.00 for PS4 and XBox One.