Having not played an F1 racing game in a quite a few years, I was quite excited to give Codemasters latest, F1 2019 a spin. The game features improvements over previous versions and also introduces F2 into the mix.
- F1 2019
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
- Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
- Developer: Codemasters
- Publisher: Codemasters
- Multiplayer: Online Up To 20 players
- Available: 28th June 2019
- Price: £45.99 (UK Retailers)
- Age Rating: PEGI 3 (UK/EU), E (US)
- Review Code Provided
I’ll start with how good this game looks even on my original model PS4. While obviously not life-like the graphics are gorgeous although a bit rugged in some areas, although I would put this down to not using a PS4 Pro, of which this game is enhanced for. There’s no denying that the cars, the race tracks and even the cutscenes all look beautiful, especially when viewed with HDR. Codemasters has done a wonderful job of capturing it all and making it eye pleasing.
Elsewhere, graphics wise, you can view your car from several different points, from close up to further away as well as several options from within the cockpit. I spend most of my time in the close up rear view of the car, but do sometimes switch to the main cockpit view just because I like the level of visual details both outside and inside the cars.
The biggest thing to point out about F1 2019 is its inclusion of F2, a first for the Codemasters series. F2 is the feeder series to F1, which has helped mold some of the sport’s biggest stars. At the moment the F2 2018 series is here and the 2019 series is due to follow as a free upcoming DLC. The game’s main campaign has you starting off as an F2 racer working your way through a few races to earn your spot as an F1 driver.
The inclusion of F2 just further strengthens the relation between reality and simulation within this game. You now get to witness what typically happens before the F1 stage, which is a very welcome addition to the series.
Admittedly it’s a shame that F2 only gets a bit of time within the career story, with you starting off towards the end of the season, instead of the middle or beginning. However here you will meet your rival, Devon Butler, who’s a bit full of himself in a very narcissistic over competitive way and Lukas Webber, your F2 teammate, who’s kind of like that supportive friend who always has something positive to say. Like yourself, Devon and Lukas will advance into the F1 series alongside you and branch off into their own teams. It’s also entirely possible to skip the F2 opening and just start on your F1 career.
Lukas and Devon advancing to F1 plays a part within the game’s story, where your former teammate, as well as Devon, are both your rivals, although Lukas keeps his welcome personality and Devon typically remains the narcissistic driver. It sounds odd to say this, but for a racing game, the story seems really well thought out, although to be honest, I could easily close my eyes during the cutscenes and still play the game without the story as it feels that all that really matters is performing my best, getting a feel for the tracks and meeting the requirements of my team contract to keep them and my manager happy. Good thing then that Codemasters has actually included the ability to remove the cutscenes and both fictional characters so you can focus on what matters. Since I’m reviewing the game, I have decided to keep all of this active.
When you start your F1 journey, you’ll be asked to select a contract offer from a choice of several teams including the Renault F1 Team, Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Alfa Romeo Racing, just to name a few. Each team has its own expectations and requirements it requires you to fulfill during your time with them to gain their respect, some such as Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport expect only the best performance from their drivers with podium finishes, preferably in first place, while others such Alfa Romeo Racing expect you to improve as you race but don’t expect you to finish on the podium all the time. With this being my first F1 game in a while, I selected the team that I felt didn’t want to push me beyond my current limit, which in this case is Alfa Romeo Racing, who are expecting at least an 18th place finish, safe to say I’ve pleased them with 1st place podium finishes on a few occasions now. Unlike previous installments in the F1 series, F1 2019 allows you to switch teams throughout your career.
There’s also post-session press interviews after each race, where Claire, a member of the press, will ask you a few questions, with multiple choice answers. How you answer will have an effect on your overall reputation. If you want to be seen as a nice guy then be careful how you answer as some answers could gain a negative response from your team, which will lower their respect for you, while some will have you looking like a jerk to the public and if you want to be a jerk, then feel free to be like Devon and choose the answers which put you first over everything else. Taking too long to answer questions, results in a very unhappy media representative, who will start to ask you harder questions later on.
As is the case with F1, each race weekend takes part from Friday to Sunday, with practice days taking place before the qualifier to the main race. You get three practice days, with a limit of 30 minutes each, however, on the odd occasion, your car may need a repair that forcefully takes some of these minutes away. In F1 2019 it’s possible to skip the practice days but doing this will lose you out on some major points and vital practice that could be the difference between a podium finish and finishing towards the back of the pack. I personally have to say that the practice days are one of my favorite things about this game as they not only allow me to get used to the track but also practice some neat techniques that will keep my fuel lasting longer and my tyres from becoming as useless as chocolate teapots within a few laps.
One of the most challenging practice tasks for me is the Track Acclimatization test, which sees a bunch of gates set up on the corners of the track, which you have to try and pass through as accurately as possible while traveling at speed. Fail to correctly pass through a gate properly it’ll go red, pass through a gate well and it’ll go green and pass through it very well, it’ll go purple. If you fail a gate, causing it to go red, it’ll be mentioned to you as one of the corners you need to work on during the start of the next lap. You should be aiming for green, but if you really want to impress your team and improve your chances of winning, purple is where you wanna be. It’s all about the cornering as it’s a vital thing in the world of F1 to be able to corner and balance your speed in a way that prevents 10 other drivers from embarrassingly overtaking you. Despite my struggle with cornering, I have found myself trying and trying until I gain the required points to pass the test and have learned all the corners inside and out. Along with a decent setup, you’ll be thanking this test, when you beat Monaco in spectacular fashion.
Once your practice days are done, you’ll move onto the single lap qualifier race. This race determines what position on the starting grid, you’ll start the main race. While you may come out with a decent starting grid place, it is possible that you’ll have incurred some penalties, which could force you further back up the grid.
Main races are well paced, with 14 laps to put you and your car’s abilities to the test. The driver A.I of the opponents seems well programmed, with the A.I performing blocking maneuvers to keep you from overtaking and even managing to skillfully stay on the green racing line, something I’m not very good at. Difficulty can be adjusted if you’re finding things too hard or too easy.
Once a main race is finished, you’ll get the opportunity to select an invitational event to attend. These are optional but well worth taking part in for your reputation and to earn points. Such events can include a timed lap or overtaking challenges amongst other things.
As you’d expect from a licensed racing game, the driving is pretty bang on and probably as close as you can get to having in-game F1 cars perform as close to their real-life counterparts as possible. Every car has been carefully transferred to the game, with their performance stats in tow, meaning if a car has decent handling in real life, it has decent handling in-game and if a car has terrible aerodynamics in real life, it has them in the game too. It all makes for a very challenging career as you learn the ins and outs of the machines you can drive. It’s not only the specs that are the same, the cars are just like their real-life counterparts in appearance as well. Check out my crudely put together side by side image of the Alfa Romeo from in-game and real life.
As with other games in the series, there are a few ways to tinker with your machines and make them perfect for any conditions, from tyre changing to fuel usage and while it all seems so advance, the game makes it pretty easy to understand, even for people like myself with next to no mechanical knowledge. Hell, there’s even an RPG like skill tree for your car that you can spend your points on.
Online multiplayer makes a return in F1 2019 and allows you to take part in Grand Prix races with up to 19 other plays all fighting for a place on the podium. You can design your own online F1 car with different liveries and some pre-set limitations. Admittedly for me, online racing is a challenge due to the number of talented players out there, who just seem to so damn good at cornering and all other technical aspects of F1. That said playing with friends online is a lot of fun, especially when they’re worse than you.
Codemasters has done a fantastic job with F1 2019. As with any seasonal sporting game, it can’t be an easy feat for the development team to keep it feeling fresh, but judging by my research on previous games in the series, Codemasters has done just that, by introducing F2 to the mix and adding improvements elsewhere. As someone who’s not typically into F1, I have enjoyed every moment I’ve had with this game so far and will no doubt carry on enjoying it.