August the 25th sees Codemasters next installment to its Formula One license – F1 2017, but is it any good? we have had some substantial hands on time with the game and to be honest it’s a pretty mixed bag of feelings.
This iteration offers a wide and varied amount of gameplay modes, Championship mode allows players to experience unique race events following different rules and structures from the official Championship in both modern and classic cars. For example, the Classic Street Series sees you race the iconic cars around the six streets circuits on the calendar.
A new expanded career mode where players can make history as they hone their skills and develop their car over multiple seasons in the Career. First, they create their driver by selecting from a range of avatars, including female drivers for the first time, helmet design (including community created versions), race number and then the team they want to begin their career with. The Research & Development system is heavily expanded, with 115 upgrades now available, while the player also has to manage their engine and gearbox. Earn resource points by taking part in new Practice Programmes including ‘Fuel Management’ and ‘Race Pace’. The classic cars also take centre stage in the enhanced career mode as players are invited to race them in the new Invitational events.
Multiplayer mode allows players to race either the modern or classic cars online with a full grid of 20 players in both public and private sessions. The game now offers two dedicated “spectator” spots as well as improved multiplayer matchmaking, new online stats and levelling system, and all multiplayer session types.
Graphically the game is good and the controls and feedback through the rumble function of the controller are pretty solid too, all sounds good so far. But unfortunately, as with any car, it’s not just how good it looks it’s what is under the bonnet that counts.
The character creation is somewhat basic and shallow but then again there isn’t really much need for anything more than what is offered.
There is a wealth of short but informational tutorial videos that explain every aspect of career mode and are extremely handy in gaining an understanding of the game before you start playing.
The vast majority of my time testing this game was spent in the much-hyped career mode that on the first encounter has amazing depth and fantastic strategy behind it. Completing all 3 practice sessions and qualifying rewards you with not only a deeper understanding of your car, its limits and your driving style but also earns you research points to spend in the R&D skill tree to upgrade your chariot of speed.
This is all immensely fulfilling until come race day you realise that your teams assessment of your driving over 3 laps as left you with too little fuel to complete the race. After the 3rd time of this happening and been extremely frustrated I decided to throw caution to the wind and pop an extra 2 laps worth of fuel in my car. I wouldn’t mind losing a few places as at least I would be able to actually finish a race.
Little did I know that my cheeky little workaround would be game breaking. For all its insistence on stats, timings, weight etc you soon realise that it comes to mean absolutely nothing because with an extra 2 laps of fuel in your tank you’re not any slower, there is no difference in the car and suddenly your winning races.
Now before you think I’m flying round in a Ferrari, I’m a bit of a purist in career modes and like to start from the bottom and give my self a challenge so that I feel real accomplishment. I decided to race for Sauber as I had no problem with finishing races in 18th or so in order to upgrade my car and progress bit by bit up the rankings.
But it seems the secret to winning F1 is to just pop an extra 2 laps of fuel in your car and suddenly your winning races by 20+ seconds! the extra fuel completely negates all need for stats, set up and a race strategy. Suddenly the game goes from an in depth, intellectual simulator to a run of the mill arcade racer. Which was a massive disappointment as I was genuinely enjoying the game up until that point.
Throughout my time playing, I couldn’t shake the niggling thought that I wish this game had a PSVR option as it is definitely suited for it and would really blow the competition away. Unfortunately, this isn’t offered and leaves you with the feeling that it is essentially the victim of yearly licensing. They have taken F1 2016, polished it up a bit and released at under the guise of an exciting and innovative game.
The biggest disappointment with this title is that you can see the makings of a fantastic simulator there. There could really be a great game here but at some point, through the development, they decided to move from simulator to arcade and ultimately ended up failing at both.
Overall score 4/10