F1 2017

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Release Date: Aug. 25, 2017

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PS4 Review - 'F1 2017'

by Michael Keener on Sept. 15, 2017 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

F1 2017 includes the return of classic F1 cars to the series, as well as an even deeper career mode, numerous multiplayer enhancements, and a new Championships game mode.

Buy F1 2017

It's been a while since I've been invested in a racing game. There were great titles before, like Need for Speed Underground and Need for Speed Carbon, but they haven't held my interest since Forza 4 on the Xbox 360. Everything from the Need for Speed reboot to the VR experience that was Driveclub VR has lacked that special something.

I'm not an expert in real-life motor sports, but I have enjoyed video games, and F1 2017 has breathed life into my flagging interest. The title feels incredibly natural, powerful, smooth and — most importantly — meaningful. I didn't play the previous release (F1 2016), but I did check out F1 2015 not too long ago. This new release blows it out of the water, and I expect that it also puts a serious smackdown on last year's iteration. Let's get into what makes F1 2017 so special and why you might also need in your life.

There have been massive upgrades to the game's graphics, performance and physics. Most notable is how the cars grip the pavement. Many other racing games lock up the tires when you go too fast during turns, or they feel too sensitive when you make minor wheel adjustments, but F1 2017 provides a strong yet responsive system. I took turns that would normally feel fast enough to launch me off the track and into a wall, but I let the car coast into it. When I was halfway into the turn, I slammed on the gas and instantly felt the tires dig in and propel me out of the turn and into the straightaway. You need speed in turns to keep the front tires down, so if you drive a little wild, you're forced into taking wider turns due to the car's reduced aerodynamics.

Players can expect to play on all 20 official F1 circuits, with four of them having shortened versions in Bahrain, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. It caters to what you want and is adjustable for everything within the extremes. There are settings that favor experienced racers as well as newcomers or casual racers. You can play with full-blown drive and brake assists enabled, or you can go with a pure simulation. As in other track-based racing games, racers can follow the suggested track lines that show green on straights and yellow and red when you're approaching a turn too quickly. Dynamic weather plays a heavy role in races; if there has been a fresh rain, tires have less traction, and visibility is extremely impaired because the wheels of other racers kick up a constant spray of water.

The world of professional sports games has been constantly trying to reach new levels of innovation. Asides from a new user interface, slightly better graphics and new control layouts, developers need to convince you that it's worthwhile to invest in essentially the same game every year. This has caused them to focus on story aspects. F1 2017 does the same with its single-player career mode, which spans 10 seasons. If you told me the game had been developed by Electronic Arts, I would've believed it because the story is so immersive. It's not without its faults, though. The story isn't perfect and the cut scenes lack intensity, as they generally consist of casual chats and corny celebrations, but it's a step in the right direction.

As you race through your career, you'll earn the opportunity to upgrade in four categories of a skill tree: Aerodynamics, Chassis, Durability and Powertrain. These will improve your racing in obvious ways and adds a sense of depth. If it seems overwhelming, you can seek advice from a crewmember. Upgrading won't make you overpowered in comparison to your opponents; you'll probably struggle to keep up or barely stay ahead of the competition, since they'll be upgrading their own skills.

Keeping in line with the F1 rules, you're given a limited number of replacement parts for your car throughout a season, so you'll have to debate whether you get a fresh part and dig into your supply, or continue using an existing part and risk it failing on you.

The last major factor when it comes to racing is how you conserve fuel. If you have a talent for coasting into turns and shifting before running up the RPMs, then you can run with lean fuel and shave off some weight. Managing your race plan prior to the start allows you to be on the same page as the pit crew, but adjustments can also be made during a race.

I experienced very few technical issues while playing. I was pleasantly surprised by the game's fluidity and polish. F1 2017 runs at a smooth 60 fps, but at the sacrifice of slightly flatter-looking environment assets, such as grass and dirt alongside the pavement. This is far from a negative, though, as the frame rate is one of the most immersive aspects of the game. Car models have been changed to properly simulate the new F1 standards. Vehicles are a bit heavier, wider and set lower, and they're stronger because of it. This goes back to the gripping power I'd mentioned earlier.

Facial animations of the characters are pretty underwhelming, as they come across as bland and sad. A positive aspect of character avatars is that they include female avatars.

Another lovely addition is classic cars. There are a dozen classic cars, including the 1995 Ferrari 412 T2, 1988 McLaren MP4/4 and 2006 Renault R26. The classic cars look distinct and sport throaty throttles, helping to break up any monotony due to the new F1 cars.

All in all, F1 2017 blew my expectations out of the water. My interest in racing titles had been waning, so trying the F1 series was one of my best decisions in a while. F1 2017 revived my interest in racing with its immersion and polish. The simulation is deep but allows casual racers to enjoy everything that it has to offer, and the career mode provides lasting appeal and value while adding a human touch to it all. Codemasters has brought a new level of simulation and enjoyment to racing games, and racing fans should snag F1 2017 and keep an eye out for F1 2018. I know I will.

Score: 9.0/10

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