Another year, another sport, and another update. Codemasters has now updated the pinnacle of motorsport’s franchise to 2017, but with the substantial changes to this season’s cars and tyre allocations, has Codemasters handled the change, or have they finally blown their engine?
Last year’s F1 2016 was a return to form for its F1 franchise, but with the major changes that have happened to 2017’s cars especially, Codemasters had to really put in the work to bring the game up to scratch.
With the cars now being wider and longer, with extra mechanical grip, and more powerful compared to any year before them, these beasts should be much harder to handle despite the ever-increasing grip available to them. Not only have the mechanics been improved, but the difference between the teams is ever-more despairing as the gap between Mercedes and McLaren/Sauber really shows here.
Bringing your team through the pack is a challenge within itself. To accomplish this in previous titles, you needed to pass trials within practice sessions to earn an upgrade to your car. At a later date, the “development” of your part was available for you to use if you so wish. Nothing spectacular but was more of a bolt-on feature than something worthwhile.
F1 2017 changes this completely. With the current rules of Formula 1, having parts fail can cause you to be penalised when changing engine components or your gearbox. Even upgrades to the cars throughout the year can end up being duds. The research and development programme within F1 2017 almost mimics this entire process, where your parts don’t always work as planned, so you almost completely abandon that research line towards something else. Then you have parts fail or are on the verge of going past their use-by-date and require swapping over. If your MGU-H/K goes then expect to earn a penalty on the grid.
The rate of engine component failure seems to be pretty high this year and the penalties are ludicrous in comparison. This is all replicated in the game including failure rates (which I have had often in the McLaren Honda, sadly enough). Thankfully it’s not replicated into the special events that require you to drive the historic Formula 1 cars such as the infamous McLaren MP4/4, the Williams FW14b, and the Renault R26.
It’s a shame there aren’t any historic tracks to take these beauties out on, but at least they’re here to drive on the modern circuits as well as some of the shorter routes on these circuits, which does include Silverstone. If you ever wanted to make a comparison between yesteryear’s vehicles and today’s monsters, then now you can appreciate how much scarier this year’s cars really are.
Controlling all of these cars are intimately done with both the controller and the wheel. For once it is possible to drive these behemoths with a controller using no aids at all, but then you must really be steady and on your toes at all times, these new cars snap harshly when sliding due to their extra grip. With the wheel, you can pump up the skill level significantly and push the cars to their limit with ease.
Historic cars and research aren’t the only other new additions, but also an Events mode where you can compete against other players globally on a scoreboard, based on downloadable scenarios, that you must compete in. This is technically a single-player only event but allows you to frequently tackle the challenge again and again until you can beat your friends and other opponents online. It is not all time-trial based, however, as you do earn points based on driving style, position, time, and consistency.
Everything all seems peachy until you notice that the one thing that was worrysome about F1 2016 is ever more present in F1 2017 – screen tearing! The game also does not run at a buttery smooth 60FPS either which probably attributes to this issue, especially when looking around with the camera, then it’s a must to enable VSync to prevent this. Due to its ever-present glaring nature, it’s strange why this has not been fixed yet.
With Codemasters’s signature over-saturation of the graphics finally toned down, it makes the game really stand out prettily. The lights from the windows in Abu Dhabi and Singapore, the damp wet weather sprayed in your face making it difficult to see, to the glistening of the sun that pierces your eyes during practice, it feels so much nicer and cleaner without the filters. Now they just need to stop recycling the same characters that they have been using since 2014 or 2015. The character models have not changed a bit, and with today’s games, it makes them stick out like a sore thumb.
Essentially Codemasters have taken F1 2016 and added more features. With the most marked change being the championship mode now being micro-managed adding to it more fun and challenges, they have created a much better game and it can only get better with F1 2018. Codemasters need to make the experience much smoother and more atmospheric for next year, but for now, F1 2017 is easily a big step in the right direction.