Xbox One, PS4, PC
August 25, 2017
Codemasters, the developers of F1 2017, have cracked the code to delivering an amazing driving simulation experience that provides options for both casual or fully fledged racing fans. Most of the expected game modes are available from the main menu which include the Career Mode for those who seek to build their reputation and become the all time greatest F1 racer. Or you have your arcade mode options such as Grand Prix and Time Trial races for those quick hits of adrenaline. And then there’s the always much loved Multiplayer, which connects you to other racers online for high intensity racing against friends or rivals!
I predominantly spent my time in Career Mode, given my aspirations as a child was to become a race car driver. And to the surprise of many of my friends and family members, I’m personally crazy about driving simulation games, so I was very glad to get an early look at F1 2017. It absolutely did not disappoint! F1 2017 leaves no uncertainty in my mind that it is one of the best and most refined racing simulators of all time.
If you ever wanted to know what racing at 320 km/h felt like without having to actually experience the g-force of a F1 car, then F1 2017 is the next best thing. This games look and feels amazing and it’s made leaps and bounds to get here from F1 2016. The assets in F1 2017 are well detailed and designed, making no illusion to the fact that you are going very fast. Adding to the amazing visuals and stunningly immersive audio is a clear and high level of attention to detail that helps to bring F1 2017 to the next level.
After taking in the amazing game visuals and adjusting my game and controller settings to my feel, I fired up Career Mode to see if any improvements were made to the lacklustre F1 2016 Career Mode. This year F1 2017’s Career Mode has way more content and features with additions to storylines, and even a social media aspect where your fans pin you against rival drivers adding a bit of spice to the racing flavour. I picked the RedBull race team at random and found that I could customise my driver to look like me and even add specific details about myself such as my home country and full name. This all improved the feel and immersion of the Career Mode.
A lot of the challenges and objectives that are set out for you cleverly teach you how to race an F1, how to add and apply customisation options, and also how to race strategically, which I really loved. I didn’t realise any of this up until my third practice session where my lap times were challenging top place finishers and had me wondering how I improved so quickly. Codemasters have to be recognised for their ingenuity in bringing an element of learning into gameplay without forcing it or making you feel like you have to drag yourself through it to get to the racing.
There is a lot of detail and planning that has clearly gone into F1 2017 down to selecting the button layout for your controller to meet the needs of your hands or how you are use to racing. You can save control mapping and switch and change between your favourite control schemes very easily in the settings too! I felt like there were a few settings that were missing, however, which really needed to be there – the most important being the analogue stick sensitivity. It’s off the scale and over responsive sometimes leaving you tireless as you try and figure out how a gentle flick of the stick sent you straight into the track barrier on a long straight.
Something I really enjoyed was the detail added into the car customisation feature. This year, alongside the ability to save car profiles and mess with car settings (as usual) you’re also provided a research tree to unlock upgrades which allow your car to run more efficiently, quickly, and with less impact on the tires and fuel consumption when hitting peak g-force. I found the best place to test these settings was during practice races when trying to complete my track familiarisation goals or fuel efficiency goals.
I really enjoyed the fact that at the click of a button I could also change between preferred profiles during race day events without having to worry about shifting through slider bars which was a massive bonus for someone who likes to research and test out efficient car settings for specific race conditions. This feature can leave many causal players or players new to the F1 IP feeling very overwhelmed. This is because the screens are not completely visually friendly and there is very little by way of introduction/description when it comes to what the feature is and what a lot of the changes mean from a racing/F1 car perspective.
The only major complaint I have about F1 2017 (and this could potentially be just some added salt from a bad crash) but the racing AI in F1 2017 absolutely hates you. On many occasions I found myself throwing my hands up in the air when reading a warning or time penalty notification for being hit by another driver. At one point I was penalised for being run off the road by an AI driver on a straight where I was leading the race! This can be frustrating if the warnings impact your overall race time, and thus your poll position – so I’m not at all a fan of the aggressive human hating AI!
Another minor disappointment I have with F1 2017 is that the F1 cars can feel very flimsy at times. I had a moment where a rock, or potentially a rouge polygon of some sort, found its way in the path of my F1 as I was flying down a back straight. I spotted the rouge object and expected the F1 car to sail over it with a little niggle, but I ended up loosing my front right tire and wing to it! The crash that followed looked fabulous on replay but restarting a 15 lap race when you’re on the 13th lap and in top 8 isn’t fabulous at all!
“F1 2017 feels like breath of fresh air in a very competitive racing sim market”
I love F1 2017 – I’ve not been happier playing a racing simulation game in a long time, and with the flat and almost unexpected short falls of F1 2016, F1 2017 feels like breath of fresh air in a very competitive and over saturated racing sim market. F1 2017 has a few teething issues which will probably need to be ironed out, but those are easily ignored given the well refined and action packed experience available at your wheel…or controller.
- Stunning visuals
- Amazing and very realistic car models
- A lot of control over race strategies and F1 customisation
- AI is very aggressively against you
- Cars can feel flimsy at times
I found racing on F1 2017 more like a dream than a game. I found myself lost in focus, lap after lap, trying to conserve fuel at every turn and not wear my tires down too quickly to squeeze an extra lap in before hitting the pits. Having only those two things plus winning the race in mind means the immersion I experienced playing F1 2017 was very, very high. I was a little disappointed about how flimsy the F1 cars felt at times, but I believe Codemasters were attempting to recreate real life circumstances and crashes. Although at times it felt a little unrealistic. If you have the attention span to run lap after lap of amazing scenery mixed in with a real life feeling F1, then F1 2017 is certainly going to be your cup of tea.