It’s been a long time since I’ve really sunk my teeth into a simulation racing game. I spent a lot of time in my formative years playing games like Gran Turismo and Forza and literally memorizing courses and honing my skills. I’ve fallen away from the genre but have had a hankering to jump back in. Over the last two weeks, I’ve been playing the most recent F1 game from Codemasters, F1 2017. And I have to say it’s good to be back.
I’ve watched a handful of F1 races in my day, it’s something I’ve always wanted to dive deeper into but just haven’t really taken the plunge. That might change now that I’ve played F1 2017 and fallen in love. I’ve always known that F1 is an incredibly technical sport and is as much about the strategy as it is the driving, and somehow F1 2017 is able to capture both aspects incredibly well. I jumped straight into the games insanely deep career mode which have some pretty ingenious mini-tutorials that teach new players like me the ropes. There are so many things to keep in mind while driving including how hard you're pushing your car, to gas consumption, and just running a good race. The game does a really great job of putting this all into small bite size pieces and allowing you to slowly get your head around everything.
After a couple of races and a slew of failing practice runs I finally felt like I had a decent grasp on how to manage F1 2017. Like many other simulation racing games, F1 2017 gives you a ton of different options to turn on and off to assist you during a race. For me personally, I spent a good deal of time in the amateur setting before going up in difficulty and starting to turn off almost all of the assistance features. The sheer amount of options that you have at your disposal does make it easy to mold the game into your own experience. It also gives newcomers like me a helping hand when I find myself crashing into walls or being too hard on my brakes.
In terms of racing, I really love what Codemasters has been able to do in F1 2017. The entire experience feels right. I can’t speak to how this game compares to past F1 experiences, but as a newcomer to the series, I have to say I was really impressed. The biggest compliment I can give the game is that it truly rewards strategy and good old fashion racing. By the time I got done with the three practice rounds before a race I felt as prepared as I could be to perform well in a race. As you would expect at the high speeds of F1 racing, controls are tight and responsive.
My biggest gripe for F1 2017 is that even at the lower difficulty settings this game's AI is a beast. It’s one of the most difficult racing experiences I’ve ever played. Even with all of the assists, practice runs, and the like I still found myself really struggling to get the hang of things. I was losing races and losing them horrifically. Although I felt like I had a good grasp on the systems and driving, the AI was so far and away better then me that I didn't feel like I had a chance. It took me a good 6+ hours to finally start competing on the lowest difficulty setting. And it was really only in the last few days that I've been able to actually compete.
The one thing that struck me right away was how gorgeous F1 2017 is. I played F1 2017 on a Playstation 4 Pro and the game truly shined in 4K HDR. Not only do the cars look great but the tracks are absolutely stunning. Codemasters has always done a great job in the visual department and this game is no different.
I put probably a dozen hours or so into the game’s career mode and have still only scratched the surface. You’re rewarded with experience after practices and races that you can then invest into new technology in a skill tree. Although I wasn’t exactly sure what I should be investing in, the skill tree does a good job of explaining what the upgrades will do and after some trial and error, I started to figure out what would work best for my driving style. I could see putting at least a dozen more hours into the career mode over the next couple of weeks.
F1 2017 is a game that’s built for F1 fans. It does a really admirable job of bringing people like me along for the ride, but I think it rewards fans over and over again with an amazing F1 experience. Even though I’m not the biggest F1 fan I fell in love with F1 2017 and see it as a game that I’ll keep coming back to long after this review is published.
I'm the Owner & Editor in Chief of Darkstation.com. After spending seven years as the reviews editor I took over the site in 2010. The rest is history. Now I work with our amazing staff to try and bring you the best possible video game coverage. Oh and I really like sports games.