We get back in the cockpit of our F1 car for this release of the official F1 game
So folks, it's that time of year again, a new F1 game to add to our annual collection and this is without a doubt my favourite one so far and we're going to dive into why. We start off with the character customisation and I have a bone to pick with you Codies. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NAME JAMIE!! It's been in your previous games like GRID, there was James but I didn't want to be called James so I went to put myself as Chief but that wasn't there anymore either so I'm the Professor....the only thing I can do that involves science is making one of those volcanoes.
I go through choosing the faces of the characters but I just skim through that part, then we get to the good part, choosing your own colours, racing suit, car livery and sponsor decals. I do it right and make my team Welsh Motorsport because it is awesome and our flag has a bloody dragon!
Starting your own team is a great feeling, your own car, your own tactics and choices on how to improve your team and beating your competitors is also a great feeling. The My Team mode really does stand out as one of the best experiences in the franchise. Rather than just be tactical with the upgrade decisions you also need to choose activities to help boost the stats of each of your departments from HR to Aerodynamics and it really makes you feel more invested in the experience. Then the next part, your first race weekend.
The first race of the season, Australia. Probably one of my favourites mainly because it's the perfect kind of track for new players to get used to, very balanced with the corners, straights and overtaking opportunities. First race out of the way, came second from 15th, which isn't too bad and a few races later I get to the track I've been looking forward to. Hanoi. It was weird playing this brand-new track to the calendar knowing that all of us are actually racing on this new circuit before the F1 drivers themselves. However, this track certainly was interesting for a first-time experience. Let me paint you a picture. This gorgeous new track, all teams present including my new team except it decides to pour down with rain turning the notch up to 11 and remember the glitches I said earlier? They were all in this race but they were funny as hell.
Picture this, it has now gone from light rain to heavy rain so your race engineer suggests a new strategy and you see its to do a stop now and then change from the intermediates to the wets. Common sense I accept and am told to box this lap, suddenly the safety car is deployed as Lando Norris retired on the long straight so everyone began to pit at the same time (and I love that since the AI never did that in the previous titles) so now I'm in the pits and I've gone down to 11th. As I left the pit 3 racers had overtaken me so now down to 14th, once I then turned around the sharp corner to leave the pits my car had actually overtaken them because the first corner is wider than the pit corner so I was now back down to 11th. Massive message "Return to correct position" while I'm confused I of course let the three racers past going back down to 14th, however the game then decides "Return to correct position", which was indicating for me to return to 11th but here's the next part, I was struggling to catch up because I realised the pit crew had not actually put on the right tires, they just replaced my intermediates with new ones so I couldn't catch back up to the people in front of me so the game just assumed I was happy in 14th and when I eventually caught up it then told me to pull back. At this point I was laughing, confused and annoyed. So, I started that race in 5th and ended in 14th so not my best day.
The other new track Zandvoort didn't go easy on me either. Now when it comes to new tracks, I keep the corner racing line on to just get me used to the layout and I turn flashbacks off since it defeats the point of being competitive. I qualify in 10th being a new track and all, race starts and I'm now 6 laps in and my car locks up and I wreck on the first corner trying to overtake Bottas, which worked because I ended up taking him out in the process. My bad.
I then saved my progress and went onto the F2 championship and that section is still as fun as last year! More wheel to wheel racing since everyone has the same car, the look of the cars as well, the look of the game in general is still beautiful. In fact, this is definitely the best looking F1 game in the franchise to date and Codies just seem to get it better every year so I can't wait to see what's up their sleeve for next year. I'm not actually sure what they could do next year, the only thing I can think of is you actually get to build the car, the different types of wings, bumpers, racing wheels and so on, make it feel like it is your own car.
The tracks in general still feel and look amazing, the sounds of the cars are still high quality as always (nothing compared to the sounds of the cars back in 2008), the gameplay is still addicting and fun, I also gave that new assisted driving mode a try, where it aggressively helps you stay on the racing line. When I tried this just to see what its like, I immediately turned it off, obviously I wouldn't need that since I've played these games for years but I personally don't think it's a good thing to use for new players, they should just jump in and get used to the games mechanics as it is.
So my overall verdict? Get this game, seriously this is Codies best entry to the franchise, new experiences, online is kind of less toxic for the time being, I'm sure players will find a way to ruin the experience for everyone else after a while and so much choice in where to start so what are you waiting for? Grab it now!