Published on September 8th, 2017 | by Sean Warhurst
F1 2017 PS4 Review
Summary: The pinnacle of Formula One racing simulations, Codemasters have got these games down to a fine art and the results are clearly on display with F1 2017.
Refining the Formula...
When it comes to the racing genre, I definitely lean towards arcade racers more than your heavily technical simulations, yet somehow time and time again I find myself playing whatever the latest iteration of Codemasters’ Formula One series is; indeed, the very first game I ever reviewed was actually F1 2012.
Whilst admittedly not my cup of tea, I’ve consistently enjoyed what time I’ve spent with the F1 games, dipping in a few more times after finishing the review for a few quick bursts before moving on to the next big thing. This isn’t a slight against the quality of the series; actually it’s the opposite – With increasingly busy game release schedules my time with a game is often relegated to the reviewing period exclusively.
With a few exceptions, I just don’t have the time to play more than a few games on anything resembling a consistent basis, hence my preference for narrative driven single-player games, so the fact that I returned to previous F1 titles once my duties were finished, coupled with the fact that I’m not the biggest racing fan at the best of times, stands as a testament to the general quality of the franchise overall.
F1 2017 is Codemasters’ latest stab at the annual series and could probably take the crown as their most accomplished effort to date.
A lot of this comes down to the career mode – Usually a loosely constructed afterthought linking together the races without any real depth to the narrative or attachment to the characters, F1 2017 adds a personal element during the cutscenes by showing the player’s life away from the track.
Whether this be simply interacting with their pit crew or managing the business side of the career, it’s a small addition but one that fosters affinity between the player and the character in a way that previous games never managed. Having the game allocate a rival teammate also adds to the drive to perform better and carry your character into the upper echelons of racing royalty, and the additional experience points you gain from besting your opponent aren’t too shabby either.
This added depth extends to tinkering with your car between races in search of that elusive perfect balance of speed and vehicle strength. You get four of each vital component throughout the racing year but if you drive anything like me you’ll burn through most of these before the end and have to contend with punitive measures such as starting at the back of the pack.
The sheer amount of content on offer can be overwhelming at first, with a bevy of options for players to fiddle about with and an impressively large skill tree that demands that you perform to the best of your abilities if you harbour any hope of completing it.
Of course, increased customisability options and a fairly compelling career mode would mean nothing if the core racing mechanics of the series weren’t up to snuff and, thankfully, Codemasters once again show why they’ve been the entrusted stewards of the official Formula One license for the last seven years.
As mechanically sound as ever, the slight tweaks and iterations upon the game engine have ensured that this is the definitive Formula One gaming experience; assists and racing lines alleviate the admittedly steep learning curve whilst also retaining the challenge level for veteran players. There’s not really all that much to add in this respect – Racing games rarely deviate from the established formula in terms of basic gameplay mechanics.
Fans of classic vehicles will be stoked with the selection of retro racers on offer here, particularly as, to me at least, most Formula One cars look exactly the same, so the visual variety is welcomed. These games often suffer graphically due to their rigid adherence to the realistic qualities of the sport and, as a result, come off as slightly sanitised and interchangeable; whilst F1 2017 doesn’t quite break away from this mould, offering up a selection of “novelty” vehicles is a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately players can only use these cars in selected events throughout career mode but they have the opportunity to get to grips with their favourites in Championship mode, which sees players tasked with a set series of challenges to complete throughout the events on offer.
Graphics and Audio
F1 2017 is an aesthetically pleasing game for the most part, although the unavoidable sterility of the tracks and vehicles ensure that, visually, there are no big surprises. Weather effects are a definite highlight here and overall F1 2017 is graphically well executed but the sad truth is that racing simulations as a genre don’t offer that much for developers to work from in terms of visual spectacle.
Although the audio is competent, outside of the cutscenes it essentially boils down to the roaring of engines, which sound relatively spot on, I guess? The droning of the engines can honestly get pretty grating and inserting commentary or even some licensed music tracks would definitely go some way towards making F1 2017 stand out from the pack.
Although not as impenetrable to newcomers as earlier entries, F1 2017 in some ways falls victim to the curse of annual releases; with such a rigid release schedule in place the opportunity to meaningfully expand upon last year’s effort is reduced and often the best you get is possibly a new mechanic and a whole heap of fine-tuning of established mechanics.
With F12017, its big new trick is the in-depth career mode and extensive level of customisation that comes with it and the rest is just a refinement upon the (Admittedly fun) foundation of previous games.
What this means is that if you’re already a fan of the F1 series then you can come to F1 2017 knowing essentially what you’re getting; this is probably the most accessible F1 title to date, so the entry barrier for curious newcomers has been drastically reduced as well.
The pinnacle of Formula One racing simulations, Codemasters have got these games down to a fine art and the results are clearly on display with F1 2017… Just don’t expect a drastically different game from those that came before.
Primary Format – Games – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Game Genre – Racing
Rating – G
Consumer Advice – General, online interactivity
Game Developer – Codemasters
Game Publisher – Codemasters
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst