It may be mid way through the Formula 1 season and the championship looks all a bit wrapped up but for Formula 1 fans the fun is only just starting as the latest release in the F1 series from Codemasters arrives to breathe new life into the franchise digitally at least. Lets go trackside and see what the fuss is all about with our F1 2017 review.
F1 2017 form codemasters is the best in the series to date lets just get that straight out the way, if formula 1 is your jam then you have likely already bought this or contemplating buying it to fill the post F1 season void and with F1 2017 you certainly wont be disappointed. The game sees further refinement on last years good but not extraordinary F1 2016 instalment. Whats most pleasing about F1 2017 is codemasters ability to properly banish the lingering memories of F1 2015 and not see them fall foul to complacency.
Every element of F1 2017 has seen some form of improvement from the impressive visuals now lovely displayed in 4K to the in depth upgrade R&D system found in the career mode. F1 2017 is a game for the true racing fans and doesn’t fall behind in making this a well refined arcade racer fully loaded with all the latest rule changes and innovations seen in the real world F1.
Cars sound different but mimic the real life design, handling and grunt that the rule and design changes introduced. Something that really can be felt as you hit the apex and head down the straight before neatly activating DRS in the DRS zone. Despite the specific detail maintained to appease the true F1 enthusiast F1 2017 also caters to ensuring this is also one of the most accessible racing games around. With customisable assists allowing you to pick your poison, the handling also feels a bit more responsive and reactive. In fact its a real dream to play on a racing wheel as true force feedback makes getting a feel for the track just as crucial as timing your turns and acceleration.
Career mode gets its fair share of improvements to help bring it up to date with real world F1 by introducing a series of customisable options that have you contemplating strategy throughout practice to qualifying and ultimately grabbing that podium place. The rules around swapping gear boxes, tyre strategy and engine choice are all reflected and the tactical grid penalty may be worth the gamble to have that fresher engine going into the later half of the championships.
As well as the depth introduced through the car calibrations comes the route to which you can support your route to victory with practice, qualifying moving from boring laps to having real progression value with the continued introduction of meta games within these race stages. Mini objectives such as fuel management, tyre management and race pace offer up simple but enjoyable ways in which to make more of the boring practice sessions whilst rewarding players with in game currency that can be used across a huge perhaps negatively so R&D tree so you can really apply thought to how you meet season objectives. A great added element to this is that these upgrades are time based, so selecting an upgrade means you may not see it until a future race so picking the right upgrade option has an element of risk through time and also through failure, after all you wouldn’t expect the lower F1 teams to be engineering super stars.
These career additions are warmly welcomed and I found that it helped add to the career mode becoming even more unpredictable, the race AI is fantastic and you genuinely will need to be mindful of how to protect a race position as you will moving up the leaderboard. One such element is how you manage fuel, the effectiveness of this previously was simple if you have lean fuel mix management selected you would get through a race easily without requiring fuel but will pay for this in terms of speed. Now in F1 2017 even lean mix may not be enough and that could be down to either your chosen race strategy or more interestingly how you performed in the practice sessions on the fuel management mini games. Something I found out the hard way in my first race going through 5 laps on normal fuel mix.
One area F1 games have always struggled to implement is how to tap into the sports rich history and icons. Within career mode Codemasters have served up a way to pay a little more fan service and driving authenticity by providing career events that act like showcase events that allow you to drive a legendary vehicle in either a time trial, pursuit or over taking challenges. These are nice little breaks from the main career racing however the lack of variety within these modes does leave you feeling a little bit stale however something I hope Codemasters can improve upon in future releases and deliver real atmosphere and emotion in doing so.
One thing that certainly doesn’t lack atmosphere is the tracks and environments within F1 2017. Track look and feel much more vibrant and full of life. The colouring across F1 2017 also feels a lot more distinct and appears to have shaken of the washed out colour palettes of previous releases. This may be partially down to the games support of HDR and 4K resolutions. 4K resolution is available on PS4 Pro with Xbox One X expected to receive an enhanced version of F1 2017 upon the consoles release.
Performance of F1 2017 however on the Xbox One where we reviewed the game was a bit sketchy in places. During Cutscenes there was visible screen tearing and during races a lot of jaggies and drops in frame-rates hindered a bit of the enjoyment. During heavy rain this was especially noticeable. We didn’t play on PS4 however performance to comment but we will be revisiting this title on Xbox One X where we expect to see stable 4K with 60fps and perhaps some added goodies.
Lastly for those looking to take their racing skills online, this years version enjoys a much more stable version than experienced on previous releases and includes enhanced stats to measure up against opponents whilst also offering greater choice on car selection enabling you to pick either F1 2017 cars or go for something more legendary with classic cars to choose from.