Formula 1 2017 brings the modern, updated cars of today and the historic classics of years past together in harmony, for the first time in years. It’s all packaged inside the game’s updated and expanded career mode, offering fans an immersive experience across all 20 rounds of the World Championship. Codemasters have delivered another superb F1 simulation and it’s clearly geared towards those who enjoy the meta game of F1, with immense detail put into race strategy, tyre compounds, pit stop strategies, fuel conservation and pure data collection. This is where races are won or lost and it has been beautifully translated into F1 2017.
F1 2017 builds upon the superb career mode which made its debut in the 2016 version. Players take on the role of a rookie F1 driver, with all the pressure and technicalities that come with the territory. This includes managing contracts, dealing with team engineers, collecting race data and managing resource upgrades and engine reliability (a notable new feature in F1 2017). The new additions look daunting, and with an upgrade tree which looks like it belongs in an RPG game, some players may find this too much. You will now have a total of ten seasons to schedule and upgrade every aspect of the car, and each upgrade has a major or minor impact to overall performance. This also determines their research time; some will only take days, while others will take weeks. Each upgrade costs resource points and you will collect these during race weekends as you successfully complete practice programs and team objectives, which are unchanged since F1 2016.
I’m clearly the number 2 driver
F1 2017 builds upon the superb career mode which made its debut in the 2016 version
While the upgrade tree looks impressive, one of the biggest changes is the addition of reliability, with official FIA regulations limiting the amount of power units and gearboxes used throughout the season. With this in mind, players will now have to keep an eye on the durability of the parts themselves if they want to go the distance. If you put the engine through hell and redline constantly or ride the gears too much, you will find yourself replacing these parts prematurely, which was something that totally caught me off guard during a grand prix. I had been treating my gearbox with no love and halfway through found myself without 6th gear for the remainder of the race. While at this point I had nothing to lose, the onus is on the player to look after the car during races or risk burning through power units and incurring grid place penalties (something Fernando Alonso would have a lot to say about).
Players will now have to keep an eye on the durability of the parts themselves if they want to go the distance
Keeping up with the ever evolving sport of F1, Codemasters have updated F1 2017’s vehicle roster with the most innovative F1 creations each real world team could design. If you haven’t seen them yet, they are the widest, biggest and fastest yet. With more downforce available, corners can be taken at much higher speeds and braking points are somewhat closer. The already limited available track space has been even further reduced too, due to the cars’ wider bodies and fatter tyres. It’s clear the team have substantial knowledge of the cutting edge technology that is implemented in these one-of-a-kind beasts, and the fact they can thoughtfully translate them to the moment to moment gameplay is even more impressive.
In contrast to the ultra-modern rides which form the bulk of the experience, there is also the addition of some of Formula 1’s most historic race cars integrated into the main career mode. Special events between race weekends will give you a chance to drive these classics around in challenges inspired by the F1 scene of yore. While these are a nice addition, and players who have an interest in the history of these Formula 1 greats will no doubt appreciate the rare opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Classic McLaren MP4/6, the few challenges available make this aspect feel a bit truncated. While they are all available to replay through the main menu, there is no real reward for completing them, apart from the thrill of taking the iconic machines of the F1’s past for a spin.
Check out the view!
The 2017 cars are the widest, biggest and fastest yet
While the career mode has been beefed up somewhat with the upgrade and reliability features and will keep many fans happy, it’s hard to look past the petrol-fuelled elephant in the room. That is that apart from the features mentioned before, there is no real change to the game compared to F1 2016. Things like the commentary and animations during pre-race, post and podium celebrations are unchanged since last year. You will notice a few extra here and there but it’s not immediately obvious. The biggest drawback here is the podium celebrations. Each driver in real world F1 has a clear personality and unique celebration rituals (can I mention Riccardo doing a shoey), so with all the celebrations playing out the same in the game, you lose a certain feel of immersion, especially when you see the likes of Kimi Raikkonen smiling! These things just don’t happen and it’s a shame they have added no new content here. The last issue I found is how flat the track textures look; there is no sharpness or clarity and it looks almost blurry. While I can’t really fault how the rest of the game looks and feels, it’s hard to look past this as you spend 90% of your time staring at the bitumen ahead.
F1 2017 is certainly a good F1 simulation and the career mode will keep many people busy for months to come. The opportunity to race around some of F1’s most iconic historic cars is fun, but it’s nothing like the experience I’ve found in many racers’ favourite, F1 2013. I can’t help but feel that the addition of these cars was only added because so much of the core game is still F1 2016. The conundrum here is that F1 2016 was a stellar title, and seeing the little improvements added to F1 2017 certainly make for a better experience on track, but the lack of work elsewhere is very disappointing and it’s hard at times to differentiate last year’s title from now. If you crave the new cars or even the historic ones, F1 2017 will be all you asked for, but if you’re not too concerned and already have last year’s game, you might want to wait for a sale. Some might see the final score harsh but it’s still worth a go, even after a sale.
Reviewed on PS4