August 24, 2017
Since 2011 I've been playing Codemasters' stellar F1 series, and for the six years and five games that have followed, winning a Formula One Championship has always eluded me. F1 2017 is no different, being one of the most all-encompassing and demanding racing sims around. This latest iteration goes even deeper into Career mode, brings back the classic Formula One cars from F1 2013 and looks even better than its predecessor. Just when you thought Codies couldn't possibly make F1 any better, it has. A lot.
F1 2016 seemed like a fairly comprehensive take on the world's most popular motorsport, but with the reintroduction classic cars, F1 2017 is practically definitive. Chances are you might never need another Formula One game. Career mode is more involving than it's ever been, integrating Invitational Events in which you get to drive the game's selection of legendary F1 cars in short versions of some of the most iconic circuits around, between competing in each Grand Prix during the regular season. It's superlative stuff.
Like the previous game, F1 2017's Career involves liaising with your agent, engineer and other members of your team, engaging in R&D trees to upgrade your car, fitting new parts, pitting yourself in a rivalry with your teammate, and performing when it matters in practice sessions, qualifying and Grand Prix events. Every little bit of the game's Career mode is designed to immerse you in the inner workings of a Formula One team, right down to the nitty-gritty involved in your car's components, race strategies, tyre choices and so on. And it all makes a startling difference.
If this sounds too detailed for you, then you can take or leave as little or as much as you like too. F1 2017 caters to all skill levels, with a variety of assists that can be toggled on and off - including those always helpful flashbacks and mid-session saves - alongside a rival AI slider that lets you ramp up the challenge or dial it down as you see fit. Codemasters seems to have thought of absolutely everything, we wouldn't be surprised to find a kitchen sink in there somewhere. Career mode is but the tip of the iceberg too, with more modes and options coming out of F1 2017's tailpipe than you can shake a bottle of Moet at.
Time Trial? Check. A single Grand Prix mode with myriad weather/time of day options and such? Check. Offline and online Championships? Check. A massive suite of multiplayer modes and all that? Check, check, check. It's all here, and you can even port your profile across from F1 2016, which is a nice touch. Of course, Career remains the backbone of the experience, and it's where you'll undoubtedly sink hours into completing a full season, battling for pole position in qualifying, a place on the podium and ultimately the championship itself, if you're dedicated enough.
It's F1 2017's handling model that you'll stay for, however. So detailed are the physics and other systems at play here, that not only does each and every car feel utterly unique with its own attributes and nuances to learn and master, but your setup genuinely makes all the difference in how your car behaves on the track. Consequently, it's remarkably gratifying when you get it just right, retaining speed while balancing control, ensuring you're able to keep up with the competition and even surpass your rivals.
Everything here too is polished to such an incredible degree, that it unfortunately makes the flaws – few as they may be – all the more noticeable. For instance, during the interstitial cut-scenes in Career, there's some pretty nasty screen tearing, which happily doesn't extend to the on-track action. Racing online can often be an unpleasant experience too, as more often than not you're jostled off the track by overly aggressive players who don't appear to be penalised for ramming you into a tyre wall (or maybe I just suck). Still, multiplayer matchmaking is fast, slick, and well-presented, allowing you to spectate while you're waiting for a race to begin.
Time Trials and one-off limited timed Events also present alternative ways to compete online, without getting caught up in the pack, instead pitting you against others on the leaderboards. Then there's the single-player Championships, serving up a way to go back and replay the Invitational Events you've unlocked in Career (such as Overtake and Checkpoint Challenges, Time Attacks and Pursuit events) and compete in multi-race events, also unlocked through Career progression. The sheer number of things to do in F1 2017 is dizzying.
The trophies support all of this content, with plenty of rewards for attaining milestones in Career, while dabbling with races switching off certain assists and such. Naturally, winning races and championships also pings a few trophies, but there's also a nice spread across all of the game's various modes including Time Trial and Invitational Events. A strong list, light on grind that's peppered with a few neat little inventive trophies. Nice.
Codemasters' understanding of Formula One is evident throughout F1 2017, from its deft touch in building a handling model that's balanced to perfection, to its masterful presentation in Career and the game's other modes. For the hardcore F1 fan, there's the Pro settings, while any racing game player of any ilk can customise their experience down to the finest detail. F1 2017 delivers on all fronts then, being a visually impressive, stylish racing sim crammed full of content and substance under the hood. There are few racing games out there as comprehensive and essential as F1 2017.
Individual engine effects mean every car sounds realistic, while the commentary adds to the game's TV-style broadcast presentation.
Stunning. The best-looking F1 game to date, with fantastic weather effects, track detail, car models, and presentation throughout. Some screen tearing lets the side down a bit, but otherwise, F1 2017 looks great.
A handling model that's as realistic or as accessible as you like, F1 2017 can be tailored to your exact specifications. There's little to complain about here.
Impeccably put together with a surfeit of modes and options that cover all of the bases. Classic cars and short versions of circuits mean alongside all of the other stuff means Codemasters has created the definitive Formula One game.
A good, robust list that takes in all of the modes, chucking in a few inventive, clever little objectives to complete too. Good stuff, Codies. Good. Stuff!
F1 2017 delivers big in all departments, with every mode you can care to think of, an expansive, in-depth Career mode, and a fantastic selection of online options. Add to that lot the return of classic F1 cars, and F1 2017 is a champagne-popping winner and no mistake.