It is hard to take a yearly title, such as F1 from Codemasters, and make it feel different each and every year, but that’s what Codemasters has been tasked with once again. While F1 may be extremely popular worldwide, here in the US it is considered a niche sport and has struggled to gain much traction. In fact, as a whole, racing’s world-wide popularity has seen a decline, and that means any licensed racing title must not only deliver on the authenticity of said sport, but also on creating a fun, accessible title so even newcomers to the genre can find a level of enjoyment. That almost feels overwhelming, so let’s find out exactly how Codemasters pulled it off.
Trying to deliver an authentic experience to the race fans, and still make an F1 game accessible to newcomers is quite the task, but thankfully Codemasters straddles that line perfectly. How do they accomplish the task, which seems to elude some development teams? By giving the user plenty of options to tailor the game towards his/her abilities. Whether one is in career mode, online, or just pick up and race, F1 2017 offers an experience that feels authentic and customizable all at once. Once strapped into the cockpit, rarely has a game ever offered such continuity between the track and car itself. While the controls can be a bit “twitchy” and hard to master, once you finally understand that controlling the car requires precise timing, breaking, and optimum momentum into the corners, it all melds together beautifully.
On the track is where the game really shines, as the AI drivers are aggressive, smart and race you fairly and professionally. F1 2017 also offers up the ability to adjust the difficulty of the AI competition by increments of one, so as you grow in skill, so can the game. On top of that, Codemasters allows the user to create each race weekend to the difficulty and length of the user’s choice. The immersion that coincides with the weekend has been amped up in this year’s title, and all of it combined creates the most authentic and exciting licensed racing title I have ever played.
For many, career mode will be the where this game begins and ends, and luckily for that contingency of folks, you won’t be disappointed. Codemasters fleshed out career mode to a critically acclaimed level last year, and this year’s iteration has evolved into a deeper and more immersive experience. In fact, if I am being completely honest, at times it might be overwhelming for some.
Your career starts out with what has become standard for career paths these days. You simply pick a race team that you would like to race for, and your career starts as the second driver. In order to become the face of the team you race for, you must perform weekly tasks at the track, and beat your teammate as a rival, albeit a friendly one. While trying to accomplish this move and swing of career momentum, you are also tasked with the job of trying to complete your contractual weekly on-track obligations, and garner enough points to help the research and development team upgrade your car. While a lot of this is nothing new to veterans of the series, the longevity and time investment that is required to do all of this has greatly changed. Gone are the days of worst to first in one year’s time. Instead, many will probably find excitement and a high level of accomplishment if they even sniff a podium on the higher level of difficulty early on in their career.
Codemasters made no secret about what their goal was with career mode in 2017, as well they shouldn’t. “The goal this year is to manage the six key components which each make up a modern F1 power unit and work to develop team skills such as pit stop times, Research and Development speed and new part reliability.” While that may sound somewhat standard, the amount of effort, dedication, time and work that goes into this is unparalleled. Of course one can take a few shortcuts here occasionally, but in the end, the effort you put in typically matches the results one gets out of it.
Classic F1 Cars
Codemasters made no secret about the amount of classic F1 rides that were included in this year’s game. While some may feel these cars are just an add-on with no real value, most will love them. The difference in feel, handling technique, and overall power is quite noticeable, and requires one to drive each with a different approach. Not only are these classics offered online, and race now, but the good people at Codemasters have found a way to even sneak their usage into career mode. Overall, there are a total of 12 different classic F1 rides from five historic teams: Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Renault and Williams, which are available to race across a variety of modes
For those that are familiar with the latest offerings in the ever-growing library of titles from Codemasters, you have a full understanding of the quality online experience that the developer provides, and F1 2017 is no different. In standard online mode, Codemasters offers three options: public matchmaking, custom game or Online Championship. The first two options are pretty self-explanatory, but Online Championship gives users the ability to create an entire season and championship, and customize it the way that best fits them. Want to race the entire season with a few online friends and a field filled with AI? Done. Want to race half the season with no AI and 19 other real friends? Done. You can set this championship up however you would like, and finish it in the time frame that fits your schedule.
Not a fan of racing online with others, but like seeing how your times stand up at each and every officially licensed track that F1 2017 provides? Well Codemasters gives every user a chance to do that. Not only does the game offer Time Trial to see how you stack up against the competition, it also offers live leaderboards. Lastly in the lineup of online offerings from F1 2017, the game offers up the Event. This mode thrusts you into the middle of the action in multiple race scenarios, and throws different objectives at you for you to accomplish. Obviously some objectives are much harder to accomplish than others, but your chances to accomplish all successfully is unlimited.
All developers hope that they can create an immersive experience that draws the users into their created world. Not only has Codemasters done just that with an exciting and deep career mode that thrusts you into the cockpit of a beautiful driving machine. At the same time, they have created an experience where the minute I left it, I wanted to go back. The game is inundated with options that allow you to play the way you want to play it, and with who you want to play it with. If you’re old enough to remember the “choose your own adventure” book, then you will appreciate what Codemasters has delivered in F1 2017. Whether a racing fan or not, this title deserves to be in almost everyone’s rotation, and everyone should experience F1 2017.