Codemasters is back again with F1 2019, and this time a few months earlier than their previous efforts. Yes, it has now been a full decade of delivering the F1 experience to the masses for Codemasters, and while they have really hit their stride over the last few years, I came in wondering if there was enough left to deliver a new and exciting experience on the current generation of consoles and PC.
For the last few years, Codemasters has delivered arguably one of the deepest racing experiences available to date, now we find out if 2019 continues that trend.
What I Like
I feel like I say this with every new F1 entry from Codemasters, but the handling in-game is impeccable. Rarely does a racing game give such instantaneous feedback on whether one’s approach to a specific track is correct or needs tweaking, but the F1 series consistently does just that. Whether a controller or a wheel is your choice of peripheral, the organic attachment I feel between machine and road in F1 is unparalleled, and it helps users understand what is working and what is not.
Once you hit the track in F1, you will be inundated with information that helps you understand how the car is setup, what your approach to a specific track should be, and what your opponents are accomplishing all around you. Absorbing that information can be a bit overwhelming, but with such tight and responsive controls, nailing that S-curve, hitting the apex, or finding the perfect opportunity to pass is a bit easier.
If you played F1 2018, then you will feel right at home with the newest iteration of F1’s career mode as not a lot has changed. The one prominent addition, of course, is that of the F2 series now being implemented into career mode. In F1 2019, you will start out in the F2 series and be asked to “prove” yourself against teammates and opponents striving for the exact same goal as you — to impress an F1 team enough that they are willing to give you one shot.
Once you actually accomplish the goal of stepping up from the F2, the game will give the option of which team you will sign with. Of course, the one caveat to this system is that the more successful the team you sign with is, the loftier the goals and requirements are, so choose wisely.
Once you include all of the research and development goals, press requirements, track appearances and optional side challenges, the F1 2019 career mode remains as deep as they come in the genre, and will consume a large majority my time with the title.
One of the hardest things to accomplish for a developer is to deliver a licensed yearly sports title based on a real-life sanctioned series. Codemasters has been delivering the F1 experience to their fans now for a decade, and the pressure to deliver a fresh experience over the course of 10 years can be somewhat difficult, but thankfully Codemasters does just that to a large degree.
In F1 2019, users can race a full career mode both in F1 and F2, race historic cars and drivers, go online and race in full leagues, or simply race against other users in ranked or unranked challenges. The game has also included the ability to fully participate in F1 esport events and includes the ability to qualify, race and even view races that don’t involve you.
If that isn’t enough, in addition to adding F2 to career mode and standalone championship, Codemasters has promised to deliver the full 2019 F2 season later this year. We often speak about the depth and longevity that video game titles should deliver for the price of entry that AAA titles ask of us, and that is exactly what Codemasters has done here. F1 2019 is full of options that cater to almost all needs and wants from their community, and delivers a game overflowing with options and modes to suit most of its fans.
As we approach the end of this generation of consoles, developers are really refining their ability to take advantage of the current hardware, and Codemasters is no different. F1 2019 is stunning to look at, in part because Codemasters has improved the lighting system quite drastically.
As you hit the track for the first time, the improvements are noticeable both on the cars themselves and environments. At times, especially during the replays of the game, the title can look photo-realistic, and it is hard to discern between what is in-game and what is real life.
The little details and graphical changes implemented do so much to create an immersive experience, and thankfully Codemasters has also delivered a beautiful game full of stunningly realistic environments and venues for us to race in.
What I Don’t Like
There are very few things in F1 2019 that simply do not work. One issue I still have is the lack of dynamically interactive pit stops. The foundation of the game is built and being improved upon, and now it’s time to focus on the minutia of the sport and adding user input into the pit stop would be an exciting addition.
Consistent is the word that best describes F1 2019, and that is perfectly acceptable. For those looking for a whole new approach to the sport of F1, they should keep on looking. But for those who have enjoyed the series over the years, and are looking for additional content and refinement, you should be extremely pleased with the current F1 offering from Codemasters.
When what you deliver works on multiple levels, you do not go looking to reinvent the wheel, but rather improve on what is there and branch off into different areas, which is exactly what Codemasters has done. F1 2019 will instantly be one of the top racers in your rotation of racing games, and the depth and options the game provides make F1 an absolute must-buy for all fans of the genre.