Codemasters Birmingham ups the ante with their newest entry for the 2017 F1 season. In last year’s review we talked about how the updates that were desperately needed from 2015’s bare bones attempt made an impact with 2016 release. Not only does 2017 evolve from 2016, it sets up all F1 fans for the upcoming year with great 4K and HDR support on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X(details still to be released). You can stop listening or reading and simply pick this one up to play the best of the F1 series.
Just as the 2017 F1 season brought new rules and cars, so did Codemasters with F1 2017. For the casual players you’ll find a cleaner look when playing the game along with new modes that anyone can pick up and play with assists. For the more dedicated F1 fans looking to experience more from this exclusive F1 licensed game, you’ll love what’s been brought to this year’s entry. Updates far exceed the new look of the cars from the F1 2017 season. Last year’s F1 game did include cars from yesteryear via DLC, while this year, they are part of the core game. While not all cars from the grid are present, a lot of the famous and dominant cars of their era are, going back about 30 years in F1 history.
This year, we’ve seen other racers include dynamic weather for their tracks and F1 2017 does not skimp in this area. You’ll find different degrees of light rain, heavy rain, sunshine, cloudy weather and the famous night races that excite the F1 calendar. Track conditions evolve during the race as well. For example, wet tracks dry up during the course of the race, with your team always being a radio call away to give you the latest with the forecast. The biggest update in this game is the new options found in Career mode. They are not for the faint of heart and they do add to the immersion in F1 racing that has been missing in titles in the past.
The new features in Career mode really bring a new amount of car management on and off the track. A new “R&D Tree” brings four main sections of the car that you’ll need to focus on in order to have success on the track. Aerodynamics, Chassis, Durability and Powertrain, all with areas where you will need to choose your path while spending your hard earned resource points. While scarce when you first get started, you get paid for your performance as well. Becoming the first driver of a team pays dividends throughout the season. Also new to your garage is ‘Vehicle Management’ where you’ll literally choose how many engine units, turbochargers, or transmissions you’ve used up for the season. You’ll need to make a smart choice prior the race with wanting to stick to the engine with 100+ laps on it or do you want a fresh one in this race to go against your rivals or beat your teammate. I’ve had numerous races where I rolled the dice hoping my transmission would last one more race, only to have a gear fade during the race limiting my mid range speed or preventing me from passing under DRS on important straights. The same can be said of attempting to go that extra lap on worn tires only to then face a flat. These new additions bring so much for the longevity of the seasons you’re racing in and you feel a lot more invested with the team you’ve chosen to stick with.
Practice gives so much intel to your team with some updated modes including Tire Programs, Track Acclimation, Fuel Management, Qualifying Pace and Race Strategy. Maybe you’re struggling saving fuel on a specific track? Your team will give you more fuel to work with but your car will be heavier. Succeed in saving tires and you’ll have a great strategy during the race setup with your team. You are of course able to override everything while you’re racing but it does help to develop your car throughout the season with your team versus a generic estimation
Qualifying hasn’t really changed much from 2016 but the racing is where it all comes together. As sparks fly from cars while you chase them, they also behave slightly better with improved A.I. After my first season the same big teams performed well with Ferrari and Mercedes fighting with me for the points lead during the year. Then, as the seasons evolved, the cars with the most wins and development points kept challenging me. While returning to your laptop after the race there is a new mode called special events where you can race the classic cars for your team as a reward for doing well. If you’ve followed the F1 2017 season, this is similar to when Alonso raced Indycar during the week of Monaco. I’ve enjoyed this feature as it does break up the monotony between races when they do arise. You can come back and race them again merely for fun as well. Classic cars are also able to be played during time trials at any track you’d like as well as multiplayer. Sadly you aren’t able to start a career with them.
With all the amazing updates in the places that really matter aside, presentation is where F1 2017 could use an overhaul. We still see many of the same menu layouts, animations for the crew and drivers, thus winning a race remains stale after putting literally hours into a race weekend. Some drivers don’t load with textures on their face, yet the pit crew does thus causing graphical conflicts? The podium celebration is literally copied and pasted from F1 2016. I can’t tell for sure but I do believe some of the crowd looks cleaner, but let’s be honest, do you look at the crowd when you’re shooting by at almost 180 mph in corners? The biggest update here in 2017 is the addition of checkerboarded 4K, 60 frames per second and full HDR support on the PS4 Pro and PC. X1X details are not out as yet but they have stated the game will be enhanced. The main difference rumored is native 4K on the Xbox One X vs. checkerboarded 4K on the PS4 Pro. Why is any of this important? The next year is said to be one of the biggest and most important years for 4K/HDR TV adoption.
I applaud what Codemasters has accomplished with F1 2017. At the time of this review, F1 2017 is the most beautiful racing game I’ve ever seen. Details are crystal clear, weather shows up while racing, and damage on the grid is visually striking. Texture packs have been spread not only on cars but on all tracks on the calendar. HDR support makes the different races at night pop equally to the tracks on a beautiful day at Circuit of the Americas. It really is a must see even if you aren’t a racing fan just to see where we are with technology.
We tested online play with a few races and everything ran smooth with no issues. There have been a few reported issues on Codemasters forums relating to lobbies or regaining progress from a saved online championship. Thankfully we’ve been treated to patches almost weekly since release, with the game currently on version 1.7 as of this review. It’s great to see Codemasters supporting this so closely with quick results. If you can find a friends to play an online co-op championship with, do it without a second thought, as it’s exhilarating going through an entire season together practicing, qualifying, winning, and losing together.
As stated at the start of this review, if you’re an F1 fan and have been waiting for this year’s release or the right time to buy an F1 game, this is the year. Codemasters has created the best of their franchise with great improvements over last year, amazing visuals, and an addictive career mode that’ll keep you coming back for more…despite the hand cramps you’ll endure over and over!
F1 2017 is the best entry in the entire franchise from Codemasters. This is a must play if you follow F1 and enjoy racing titles.
You can also find our reviews on Open Critic here : Seasoned Gaming
Gaming since the Atari 2600 and owning about every console stateside since.