Published on June 27th, 2023 | by Daniel
F1 2023: PS5 Review!
Summary: With big improvements, yet still some solid flaws, F1 2023 comes up pretty strong but still with a lot of room to grow.
Another year, another yearly release game. Formula One is back with another season, this time covering the 2023 season of it’s real world counter-part. New drivers, a shake up in team and the second year of the new regulations. Adding yet another page to the prestigious history to the single most recognised and longest running motorsport in the history of. The fastest cars, travelling the globe and racing on some of the most world renowned circuits. Only one can win the World Drivers Championship and only one constructor can win the Constructors Championship. Will it be one of the top three teams? Or will you stun and surprise the world by bringing up a midfield team, or perhaps your own brand new team from zero to hero in a single season? Will you climb the top step of the podium and clench every victory, it’s all here in the world of F1 2023 and it’s yours for the taking!
Last time out, I said that if you’ve played one F1 game in recent years. Then you’ve basically played them all, this time however, that’s not entirely right. Sure, the format of the game is still the same as ever. Pilot some of the fastest machinery on the planet, nail fast laps, pitstops and avoid any carnage and you’ll emerge from the other side a grizzled, race hardened champion. But lately, with each new release, the folks at Codemasters have really been hard at work to bring new and interesting mechanics and flair to an otherwise same thing, different day experience.
F1 2023 brings two new, shiny game modes to the fold. I say new, but one of them is really just a continuation of a previous feature from F1 back in 2021. Breaking Point 2, the sequel to the story mode introduced into F1 2021. This continues the story of Aiden Jackson and Devon Butler, but also introduces another character who features a little later in the story; Callie Mayer. The story has you drive for each of them in unique take on this returning mode, you get to see things from new angles, for example you get to see why Devon is such a poor sport. It doesn’t make up for his poor attitude and that sort of behaviour would never fly in a real F1 team, but it does make for good drama, on a similar note that Drive to Survive does. It’s not an overly challenging mode, in fact, I was often far exceeding my race targets with a significant level of ease. I know it’s meant as an opener to the game proper and that they probably made it easier, so that newer players could pick it up easily enough. But it almost comes off as too easy. Balance is a hard thing to get right, but for the biggest two features and selling points for the new release, I feel like they could have done better.
The other new mode is F1 World. Now if you’ve played F1 Manager (I haven’t), I have a feeling it would feel something like that game. Here you’re like an owner and racer in one, you get to hire staff to help run the team. These staff members give you certain bonuses in the races when certain conditions are met. You’re able to research, engineer and develop parts as well as win them from races too. These also boost the car’s performance as well, stacking with some of the bonuses from the engineer staff. In the races of this mode you can complete challenges both online and offline, in the matchmaking side of things it will attempt to pair you with players at or around your current tech level, making for a more “balanced” matchup. In the offline version, the game takes names out of your friends list and slaps them into the cars around you. At first it was a lot of fun to smoke a lot of my friends, despite knowing none of them would even consider this game for themselves.
Codemasters have been hard at work fixing a lot of core fundamentals in F1 2023. And their hard work has paid off with universally better handling, I’m really impressed.
But the fun quickly wore off as my tech level soared and the gaps between me and my opponents just got bigger. If I have one major suggestion about both modes, is more balance, as gamers we know that’s hard but the end results when they get it right chefs kiss, boy do they get it right. Perhaps it was merely a case of training wheel syndrome after EA’s take-over that continues to hold them back from making a great game, into a world class game.
That’s not to say that F1 2023 is perfect, it too, like it’s predecessors has it’s pros and cons. Let’s start with the good news; the AI has vastly been improved, from the fearless, careless, cut you off as you try to pass by behaviour that should land anyone who does this, a hefty penalty, or worse. To actually giving the space when it’s earned. The best part about this is that the AI will still push you, or try to defend, but if you’re precise enough, or perhaps brave enough. You can squeeze your way past and they’ll give you the space you so valiantly dived down the inside for. What could be better than better AI? Better handling of course! Previously F1 22 was notably on a knife’s edge, traction was a notable weakness and thankfully that has been massively improved in the new release.
The team at Codemaster’s have been hard at work improving various aspects of the game in order to bring a more balanced experience to you the player. They’ve worked on tyres and how they react to punishment, the margins of difference between low speed and high speed corners. As a result, you feel less punished by pushing the car to and past its limits, previously even the slightest push over the edge, or take even the slightest amount of curb and suddenly you’re a Beyblade. Now with the new grip, you can ride more curb, squeeze more life out of the tyres and get on the throttle earlier. Speaking of the throttle, the throttle map has been adjusted too as well as the torque curve of the engines have been vastly improved. Previously, input was very 1:1 or very static, with F1 2023 however, they’re a lot more dynamic, leading to a much wider variety of potential setups to play around with to maximise the potential of the car.
F1 2023 continues it’s stellar run of looking gorgeous, well mostly, everything in the cutscenes is shmick. From simple scenes where the characters are sitting in an office and getting animate. Right down to the on track scenes, full of motion blur, excellent camera angles and a lot of good focus on the real star of the game, the cars. Outside the cutscenes, I always have a little giggle at some of the driver models. I have to wonder just how much time gets spent with the drivers to mocap or 3D sculp their faces properly. Because some of the driver models, come out looking great where some others, barely even look like their real world counterparts. In some cases, comedically so, though I do somewhat feel almost embarrassed for the devs. With everything we have at our disposal now, you’d think a lot more, especially with Triple A owners EA owning the company now, that they’d have better tools in house to make them look at least a good.
Trackside, everything is clean, vibrant and well detailed. It’s always a pleasure peering around the garage at and seeing the details in the screens, panels, benches and even team uniforms. One thing I did tend to notice, on the console version at least, is that there’s a lot less..reflections, on surfaces that should definitely be there. It was very apparent in the Australian GP weekend when the camera panned down the pitlane and showcased the lovely new pit facilities in Melbourne. Only that the beautiful, bitch black, glossy windows I know from seeing them in real visits to the track. Don’t actually appear glossy in game, it’s very jarring to see a location you know to be a certain way, not necessarily reflected correctly in such a modern game. Especially when you look at all the attention to detail that is rife through this game. In the menus, the F1 World hub with all the different kinds of furniture you can decorate and personalise your space. And of course, who could forget the level of detail put into the cars, those shiny, matte surfaces, stickers, decals, helmet designs and racing suits in all their glory.
It clearly goes to show where their budget and priorities were focused and I can’t really blame them. Who’s gonna care about incorrect textures on something you’re only going to see once a lap when you’re going too fast to get a good look anyway? Perhaps I’m the odd one out here, but it’s just a minor irk of mine. I’m a stickler for perfection in graphics and style and I’m very picky. If I don’t like the style of something, I generally won’t watch or play it simply because I don’t like how it looks. There are some exceptions to the rules of course, but for the most part, I’m stubborn and hard to impress. So little things like that, stand out a mile in front of me.
The problem with games like these, is that I always struggle to find things to talk about in such an audio sparse game. There’s only so many ambient effects, there’s only so many engine sounds. And since the only place to hear the games’ licensed music playlist is in the menus which I’ll admit I spend more time that I should scrolling through just to listen to, there’s not a whole lot to review here.
The usual suspects have all returned to reprise their roles in game, Antony Davidson, David Croft, Karun Chandhok and Natalie Pinkham from the Sky Racing team all make appearances to offer advice, insight and interview the drivers after races. The Breaking Point 2 team did a good job of their lines, it definitely felt like they were all a lot more confident in their roles and presented a more natural, if slightly stiff performances. Who can blame them? The drama in the story mode is so very cliche I would love to have been in the recording rooms when their lines were being read, if only to see their expressions as they try to stifle the laughter and cringe they’d just recorded. One thing I’d like to hear is more natural explanations, info dumps and interviews in the future games, while it’s iconic and brings a sense of familiarity to the game to hear the Sky team speak their scripted lines. I as an avid follower of F1 know they know what they’re talking about, if they’re given enough freedom, or perhaps the dev team could visit circuits collecting voice audio as much as they do for vehicle sounds and ambient noise. They might have a decent number of sound clips from a more natural environment to cobble together. Perhaps that’s easier said than done, but a more natural delivery would go a long way to help immersion.
As for the soundtrack, well, I definitely spent too much time in the menus simply chilling out and listening to them, so that should tell you I like what I hear. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, to hear electronic music genres in their high octane racing games. But it’s definitely nice to come back from a race and listen to some sweet tunes whilst I collect my rewards, hire new staff for my F1 World team and navigate the menus to find my next race. I only wish there was an option to play these track in the races too, it might serves as a small distraction for some. But simply having the option to include and turn it on/off in races or even at least practice sessions where it’s a lot more chill, would be a neat feature.
My view of the franchise has probably become harsher, though my reviews in general have always been probably just a bit too nice. I’m starting to notice the finer things that bug me are adding up to sour some of the sweetness in a lot of these games. Chalk it up to my getting older, but I’ve decided to call out where call outs are due. And F1 2023 is still, in my view a better game than F1 2022. There is more to do, are they a little lackluster because they feel too easy? Yeah, but more content is almost always a better thing. Heck, even the simple fact they’ve vastly improved the handling that was such an issue in the last installment. Is a huge plus for me, I can’t wait to get into career mode with my best pal and try to give Ferrari some hope of winning the World Driver’s and Constructors Championships. Even if it’s only in the digital world, Ferrari fans please don’t roast me, I want them to be as high up as possible myself.
Does the game have bugs? Sure it does, I didn’t find too many myself but I’ve been following the community. Optimisation on PC I hear, especially for cutscenes and interviews seem very all over the place. Maxing out some of the top performing GPUs when it really should even be using half of their performance. Some cars hit the rev limiter in 8th gear, some cars bottom out and have weird brake biases, just a lot of small inconsistencies. But one of the major bugs in this game, is red flags. One of the biggest and most looked forward to updates for this game and even on release, it’s broken. It’s not that they don’t work, they do, but nothing like intended. It’s a real shame to see such a massively talked about feature isn’t fleshed out and is causing troubles on day one. I love this franchise and I love how hard Codemasters and EA are working on this title, as much as I still have concerns about EA owning them. But would I pay max price for a game to release as it did? No, do I recommend others do the same? Absolutely not.
With some underlying bugs carries over from the previous game. Some that were even patched out later in those games only to make a return here. Is simply not a good look for the devs. Don’t get me too twisted though, what’s done well, is done amazingly. And even as I write this review I can’t wait to get back and do some more F1 World for that short burst and fast rush of adrenaline. I said last time, it needed more time in the oven, well now it just needs a little more garnish on the top and I think we just might have a winner.
Game Genre – Racing, Simulation
Developers – Codemasters
Publisher – EA Sports
Rating – PG
Year of Release – 2023
Platforms – PS4, PS5, PC, XB1, XB Series X
Mode(s) of Play – Single, Co-Op, Multiplayer
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