It has come to that time of year once again, where we get ready to grab that racing helmet and experience an insane amount of G’s to become world champion in Codemasters F1 racing Experience. After a poor start on the Xbox One with F1 2015, the team came out strong and gave us one of the best F1 titles with F1 2016. A year on and it seems that Codemasters have come up with one the most realistic F1 titles to date as well as giving fans some great extra content.
Last year seen the return of a proper career mode and provided an experience that was missed so much. Well get ready to be impressed once again as Codemasters has built upon that foundation to give an even deeper experience than last year. Once again you will get to create a driver and the selection of avatars pretty much covers everything. You will also get to select a helmet which you can change the colour of which is nice. The team have kept pretty much everything from last year but have now added a few more features. There is a couple of more options to the training program which now include a fuel saving one along with a race strategy one. If you were not sure how the fuel saving worked before then you will always be on your target after taking the training program. I also like the additional race strategy program as will make sure you get a slightly more realistic strategy from your pit crew from your driving.
In any F1 team the R&D department is key to getting success out on track, as the driver you can only get the best out of the components they provide. This year the skill tree has exploded with a wealth of new skills to tinker with that covering eight categories. There are the four categories that are tied to you spending your resource points, with a lot more thought going into how you use them. You now have the option to upgrade the specific departments resulting in lower failure rates and reduce the cost of resource points needed. However you can always just go and research the skills but have the chance of a high failure rate. This ties nicely to the new vehicle management systems but more on that later. The other four categories in the R&D skills tree fall under Core Competencies and depend on your driving achievements. There are three levels in each category with one being for when you are the first team driver. So this is certainly something that plays out over multiple seasons. The other three categories cover Upgrade Speed, Simultaneous Development and Pit Efficiency.
I mentioned above about the new Vehicle Management option which has been a feature that many have asked for and now we have. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this has to be the greatest addition to the F1 series and it excels at what it is there to do. We asked for component failure to feature in races and now we have to deal with Gear Box lifespan and failures as well as the the whole power unit. Yes this includes the Internal Combustion Engine, Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic, Motor Generator Unite – Heat, Energy Store, Turbo Charger and finally Control Electronics. The six components of the Power Unit and the Gear Box have a finite lifespan and just like in the real sport you can be penalised for changing the parts during a race weekend. Lets not forget grid place penalties for going over your allotted amount. I can confirm that you can in fact end your race due to hitting beyond the lifespan during races. I had damage on simulation and I had blown the engine resulting in retirement. It happened to me during my second race doing full weekends. In fact my engine was smoking from the start, so yes you will really need to take care of the car during your career. This also makes the R&D skill tree much more relevant in helping expand the lifespan of these parts. This may frustrate some but for those who want the fullest F1 experience to date, its like your Birthday and Christmas has come all at once. I can congratulate Codemasters for finally granting the wishes of many F1 fans.
There is one more thing that has been added to the career mode to break things up a little and offer you a slight distraction. As we know there is a host of classic F1 cars been included for you to race and you get the chance to do so via Invitational Events offered to you during your career. You will be offered the choice between the first two after your first race. These events will pit you against challenges like, pursuit, time attack, race and so fourth. You will also be introduced to the four short circuits that have been added to the game, but they are really short. Once you have unlocked these you can replay them at any time via the Championships option on the main menu screen. These give you a sense of what it was like to race these classics from yesteryear, although doing a refuel during the pits for the older cars is not featured unfortunately.
As with every year in the F1 franchise there has to be changes to the car handling as well as other racing features, and boy do we do get spoiled this year form the team. In the sport this year, the cars went through some major polish with the new car designs making for wider cars and this has been replicated in game. The cars do also feel faster to match that of the real sport and thanks to the new vehicle management system. You just cant go hammer and tongs on the track, you need to make those parts last. Two features I also noticed compared to last year is that if you run out of fuel, you can’t easily cost it to the pits, with the feeling instantaneous and you go way slower than last year. During qualifying you now have a fourth mix you can use, meaning the power is completely all out. I have found this great for those last attempts at pole and it uses full quicker than the normal rich mix. The biggest gameplay feature is the all new pit release assist option where you can not only take control when entering the pits, but also take control of the pit release. I have to say this is great fun but do it wrong and you will lose time just like in the real sport.
Car handling so far feels just about right, there is much more reaction in the car when riding those curbs. If you are quite new to the game it will mean a greater chance of going in to a spin, and as for the pro drivers, you will want to be a little more careful. There is a great sense of speed in both the modern and classic cars. The classic cars I thought felt easier to drive as they hugged the corners easier, especially the really old classics. The damage modelling is as always spot on especially when having to deal with components failing. I can say without a doubt this is as close as you will get to experiencing the real thing.
Now I have to admit I am always one for just bombing down the inside of a corner to overtake the A.I but this year they seem to do it to you now more than ever. I can still get away with it at times but I have noticed the A.I being a little more defensive this time around. There is still a high level of aggression in the A.I to deal with, as I did get hit from behind quite a few times, although it is great to feel like you must defend your position or you will lose it.
When it comes to penalties things have improved over last year and there is certainly a lot more warnings given to the A.I. Since the introduction of the Azerbaijan circuit, it has become my new favourite track to race so I had to do a full race on here. I was very impressed during the race as there was about four Safety Cars and quite a few retirements all from the A.I. It actually felt like it was replicating the tension from the race back in June this year. It is definitely showing that Codemasters are improving each year, although that being said they are still not perfect but it’s and improvement from last years. We now have a slider for adjusting the difficulty in increments of one which really works and can be tailored to suit your own personal difficulty. The weather system has seen improvement as well and much more harder to predict, as well as the track drying out during a race.
That’s pretty much everything tied up for what to expect during the Career mode of F1 2017 and I have to say there is a lot of content with plenty of scope on how you will race for the Championship. F1 2016 focused on a whole new Career mode as well as league support for multiplayer but this year Codemasters has beefed up the content even more. Along with the usual Quick Race and Time Attack, Championship Season has been replaced with Championships. This mode opens up two options to the player. One lets you replay any of the Invitational Races unlocked from Career Mode with a total of twenty. The other is a set of themed season races incorporating classic and modern cars. These seasons have pre-defined rule sets and tracks and as you complete them you are awarded a medal. This then transfers to points depending on how you finished. There are twenty in total with only the first few unlocked, as you gain medal points you will unlock the others.
We now come on to Events, which pretty much borrows the idea from the DiRT series of titles. This is also introducing F1 2017 to the world of eSports as well. Events are one off, downloadable race scenarios putting you in the thick of the action with specific and tailored objectives. The one up at the time of writing this review, puts you in the seat of Verstappen at the Belgian GP. You are left with ten laps to go and a broken front wing. You have to pit as well as deal with getting back in front. Difficulty and Assist settings can be adjusted and have an effect on how many event points you receive at the end. This is then uploaded to the global and friends leaderboards. Events is a great addition and as long as Codemasters provide regular updates, it means there will always be fresh challenges pulling you back into that F1 car. I would love to see them try and recreate classic and eventful races here.
When it comes to multiplayer things have changed a fair bit since last year. You can still set up an online championship as well as create a custom room. With the addition of classic F1 cars the team have allowed us to create a championship / Race using only the classic cars. These cars are split in to two classes being C1 and C2. The former is for cars made after 2000 and the latter for cars made before then. There are only six cars in each class but you can determine how many drivers will race those cars. Public Matchmaking is not split into categories any more, all you can do is select the race length and then wait to be put in to a room. I have been unable to test the stability of the online servers due to the game not being out in the wild. I will update this review if need be as I give them a good test over the launch week.
Graphically I feel there has been major improvements over last year’s outing. You can instantly spot how the tarmac looks much more realistic as well as the grass and gravel too. The forestry on some track does look stunning, not that you have the time to stop and appreciate it though. The cars as you would expect have also had major improvements and look just like their real life counterparts. Not only do your tires show their lifespan degrading but you can also see the smoke coming out of your engine as the components near breaking point. However Codemasters seem to have left out this year again the formation of a race line and the rubber forming at the side of the track. This seems to have been M.I.A since the upgrade to next-gen. The games audio is spot on with the current cars sounding as they should. I’m no expert on the classic cars but again these cars sound as you would expect.
The Good Things
- We now have component failure and it works amazing.
- Career mode has much more depth thanks to the expanded skill tree.
- The new Event mode will keep players coming back for fresh challenges.
- The new pit release assist option is excellent.
And The Bad
- Still no sign of the race line with rubber at the side of the track.
- While A.I has improved you can still be penalised for their mistakes.
- Without a doubt F1 2017 is by far the most immersive F1 experience you can have on the Xbox One. The career mode has been expanded upon and for the first time in the franchise we now have the breaking of the gearbox and power unit. This also includes individual components on the power unit. The games graphics as well as the A.I has also seen great advances. Tracks looking much more realistic and I have to say Monaco at night is pretty awesome. The A.I are now going for aggressive overtake manoeuvrers as well as fighting each other more. The Events Mode is also a welcomed addition and looks to be the games entry in to the world of eSports as well as providing fresh and new challenges. The Championships mode and classic cars round off the most thrilling F1 experience to date. Once again Codemasters have outdone themselves and most importantly listened to fan feedback.
Without a doubt F1 2017 is by far the most immersive F1 experience you can have.