Since taking over the Formula 1 license eight years ago, developer Codemasters has seen its share of highs and lows. If 2015 was it’s low point then it’s safe to say that F1 2017 was an ultimate high for the series.
From a deep career mode to the most realistic gameplay produced, F1 2017 left the studio with what some would call a good problem to have: “What do we do next?”
The answer? Take what was good about last year’s game, and make it great in F1 2018.
You won’t notice any major additions right away as most of the features and modes remain with improvements done within. That doesn’t mean the game is exactly the same.
Six more classic cars have been added to the 12 that debuted last year. Ranging from Lotus to Ferrari, the “new” old cars come from the 1970s and 1980s. The one issue I have with these old cars is that while they’re fun to drive and look at, they handle too much like the modern-day vehicles that are supposed to be far more advanced that the cars of yesteryear.
Driving is more accessible than ever due to all the assists available to newcomers to the game. That said, F1 2018 really rewards you for improving your skillset by making the game feel like a completely new experience when you remove assists like traction control. The joy of F1 2018 is racing the way you want, and the game gives you every chance to do just that.
The much-debated “Halo” head protection makes its debut in F1 2018. And while it can interfere with your viewing, it can easily be removed from view to give you a better feel behind the wheel of your car.
AI drivers have received a noticeable improvement in the way different ones race on a given course. Each driver has a variety of advantages and disadvantages depending on the track, and it seems to be based on real-life performances on the course. AI drivers don’t just race as if you don’t exist. It’s nice to actually have to battle with them throughout a race in order to move up in positioning.
How Will You Be Remembered?
Aside from the gameplay, the heart of F1 2018 is its expansive career mode.
The mode introduced a number of new features last year like the upgrade tree that felt overwhelming to many newer players. In F1 2018, upgrades have been more streamlined for players. There are more chances to earn upgrade points while the full upgrade tree doesn’t reveal until later on in the mode. It gives players less to worry about as the start, allowing them to really focus on getting their career off the ground.
New in F1 2018’s career mode are off-track interviews. Journalists will now question you on certain aspects within a race. From your decision to try and get away with a bump on a driver or the pass attempt that backfired into a crash, no question is off limits; the responses to the questions will impact how the other teams and drivers view you.
It’s a nice addition to show your personality within the game, though it can get annoying to have to answer questions so frequently. I guess Codemasters really wanted to make sure we knew what it felt like to be a big-time F1 driver.
To keep players interested past the first season, there are now rule changes that could alter your progress through the years. It’s a small way to keep players interested through the doldrums of the mode.
Other modes like Championship, Event and Grand Prix return all seemingly unchanged. During pre-release testing of the multiplayer servers, there were no noticeable hiccups. In fact, the racing felt as smooth as an offline experience once on the track.
Visually, the game looks as great as ever. Whether you are talking to the press or just doing a couple practice laps on the course, you fall into a sense of feeling like you’re watching an actual television broadcast. While there are the expected repeated lines of commentary, nothing takes away from level of detail put towards the presentation.
Even on an older engine, the car appearances and weather systems still look like they are ahead of many current-generation titles. The one downfall of the current engine is that some tracks don’t look as polished as they should at this point in the generation.
F1 2018 is a game that once again shows why it’s one of the best racing titles on the market. From a fun and deep career mode to an excellent on-track experience, it’s everything that a racing fan would want in a video game. The only problem is that the series is hitting a point where the experience feels largely the same as its prior installment.
The small changes definitely add to the game, but it comes down to whether or not they warrant another $60 purchase. If Codemasters wants fans to keep buying the annualized title, it may be time to do something drastic moving forward.
F1 2018 is a game that once again shows why it’s one of the best racing titles on the market. From a fun and deep career mode to an excellent on-track experience, it’s everything that a racing fan would want in a video game.