I can be such a hypocrite. I often slam the EA Sports franchises for rushing out a new game each year. Yet, every year I pick up the latest F1 game from Codemasters. While I am a fan of the FIFA games and football in general, I love Formula 1. I find the technology and engineering behind the cars absolutely fascinating. I like the drivers and enjoy watching all the races. Heck, I even watch qualifying and some of the practice sessions. It’s fortunate, then, that the F1 games from Codemasters have always been great. Well, we’re now in 2019 and that means that there is a new entry. So, has Codemasters managed to maintain their winning streak or does this entry fall to the back of the pack?
Let’s begin with F2
The 2018 F1 season brought in some particularly noticeable changes, like the halo safety device. 2019’s cars have some visual differences (simpler front wings, bigger rear wings, updated bargeboards) but not to the same extent. I think it’s safe to say that the same can be said about this new F1 game. The first change that you will notice is the inclusion of F2. For those who aren’t motorsport fans, F1 is the pinnacle of the sport. F2 and F3 are designed to work as feeder series to get into F1. It’s not as simple as winning promotion or relegation to a new series. However, if you win the F2 championship, the F1 teams will take notice and you stand a good chance of being able to race in the top formula.
When you start the career mode of F1 2019 you will begin in F2. You are not required to compete in an entire season of this formula. Instead, you are placed in a couple of situations and one full race (though it is possible to race an entire F2 season if you wish). During this time the game introduces you to two new characters. An obnoxious rival called Devon Butler and your F2 teammate Lukas Weber. These racers will follow you into F1 and provide you with some competition over your years in Formula 1. Whatever level you enter the sport at, they will do the same. For instance, if you decide to join the Mercedes F1 team, then Devon will join Ferrari and Lukas will drive for Red Bull. This does strain credulity but does allow your rivalries to continue.
Rivalries and racing
The presentation of these storylines is done pretty well, particularly for a racing game. I mean, the acting isn’t going to challenge the Oscars but it successfully dodges any cringe factor. If anything, I would have actually liked to have seen more of their interactions. There’s a cutscene after each F2 event but it stops once you hit F1. They are referred to in interviews but you don’t really get to see them interact with each other. Speaking of interviews, these are pretty much identical to last year’s game. In fact, I’m pretty sure they use the exact same animations for these as last year. There are still questions where you are bound to offend someone whichever option you choose. And they are still fairly repetitive and feel pretty superfluous.
However, if you are playing F1 2019 for the storyline and the dialogue choices in interviews, you are missing the point. These games are about racing and that’s an area where Codemasters are experts. Once again, they have provided a racing experience that caters to nearly every level of racer. If you are a beginner, then you can use the various driving assists to help you wrangle a Formula 1 car around a circuit. Meanwhile, if you think you really have what it takes to challenge Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel you can turn them all off. This is complemented by a 110-point scale for the AI difficulty. It allows you to perfectly fine tune how good you want your opponents to be.
Handling and visuals
Any racing game lives or dies by its handling model and the F1 series has consistently nailed this. The various driving assists may help to tame the beast that is your F1 car but it’s still up to you to navigate it around the various tracks. Even with the traction control set on full, you can feel the rear of the car trying to break free but those assists keep you pointed in the right direction. The way Codemasters has been able to give you the feeling of complete control while carefully holding your hand around the track is nothing short of genius. Of course, if you have the skills then they also have the challenge for you. If you’re the type of racer who has their own wheel & pedal set and is looking for realism, there is even more here for you.
Visually, this is very similar to last year’s game. F1 2019 does seem to be a little brighter, but there isn’t really a noticeable bump in textures or the amount of stuff on-screen. I think some work has been done on the lighting for night races but it’s not a huge difference to the last game. The water effects may have received a little polish but they weren’t that bad to start with. However, when your last effort was one of the best-looking racing games around, why would you change everything? F1 2019 is still a really good-looking game on both my Xbox One X and One S. The framerate is so super smooth I didn’t notice any framerate issues at all. In fact, the only issue I had was a weird visual glitch on one race and as soon as I reloaded, it was fine.
All an F1 fan needs
F1 2019 is a superb racing game and a masterful recreation of the pinnacle of motorsport. The presentation is so accurate that it fooled my young son into thinking I was actually watching Formula 1 on TV. The inclusion of the F2 championship is nice but not essential. Using your rivals from that series to follow you through F1 is a great idea that just isn’t implemented as well as it could have. If you already have F1 2017 or F1 2018, you may want to think twice before picking this entry up. However, if you’re a hardcore F1 fan or don’t have any of the previous games, then this is an easy title to recommend. Codemasters has once again produced another title contender that will satiate my F1 obsession until next year.
Are you a Formula 1 fan? Do you like the F1 games from Codemasters? Share your thoughts in the comments section below