Codemasters Studios over the last few years have produced some of the best Formula 1 games to date. This year’s edition, F1 2018, maybe one of the best F1 games all round for it’s realism, challenging and dynamic racing that will leave F1 fans licking their lips for more.
F1 2018 is Codemasters Studio’s eleventh Formula 1 Title since earning the rights back in 2009. Each game has seen improvements to the gameplay, graphics and modes to satisfy racing fans on their consoles. Since the move to modern consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Codemasters have pushed the boundaries for F1 games and F1 2018 takes that boundary to another level.
Formula 1 Games by Codemasters’ main single-player feature is the career mode, where the player enbarks on an F1 career to become world champion in a full season with any team of their choice. This year’s edition sees the return of press clippings, a popular feature from F1 2010 that kick started the franchise. Player’s will meet a brand new character over their career named Claire, a Motorsport’s journalist that will ask you questions after sessions that will heavily impact your relationship with your team, R&D departments and your profile. The questions are time pressured, so you don’t get much time to think about it. Your responses will create your profile as a “sportsman” or “showman” which affects how you look to the other teams when it comes to your reputation.
This is a nice feature to have back in the franchise and adds that extra bit of realism from the real sport. Now you have to think about what you have to say and that could be bring consequences for you and your team. For example, if you don’t make it into Qualifying 2 and you say that it was down to the car, that can affect your relationship with certain departments that may charge you extra resource points.
Last year saw a big shake up to the research and development where players can choose their upgrades via the R&D tree, with upgrades ranging within Chassis, Aerodynamics, Power Unit and Durability. The feature took some time for players to get upgrades for and that put some in not playing the career mode. This year Codemasters took that feedback and made adjustments to the pricing and branches to the R&D tree. Every team has their own unique tree of upgrades to add, giving a different variety to each team and what their priority needs to be when it comes to spending your points. Codemasters added more spice into the career mode with regulation changes occurring so often during the game that will reset the R&D tree and potentially shake up the pecking order.
The presentation of the game has changed as now commentators David Croft and Anthony Davidson will now give more information before the race about the championship, what has happened in the previous race etc. But there is also a lack of new cut scenes as the same animation from F1 2016 still carries over and the podium celebrations from F1 2015 is still alive today. Whilst it’s cool that Crofty can say my name in the commentary booth like it’s real life, it’s a shame that the trophy animation is still the same and not some custom celebrations added in, like with recently on Madden 19 and on FIFA games for the last nine years.
You can now negotiate your own contracts with teams over the career mode, rather than the traditional method of being handed a deal at the end of the season. Now, players can negotiate with teams over perks, driver status and objectives to set themselves for the team. Your status as a driver whether your a “showman” or a “sportsman” will differ for each team. A nice touch to the career mode that will allow you to decide your move up the field, but you only get three chances to settle a deal with a team. Failed, and then that option is out for the season.
Whilst the new career mode may have not changed much with its’s style, it has made the game have a longer playing cycle compare to F1 2017, which should keep gamers and fellow F1 fans enjoying for the year.
HANDLING WITH CARE
One of the biggest new gameplay mechanics that’s been added this year is ERS Management. ERS plays a crucial part of real-life F1 with the new hybrid engines. The energy recovery system provides the drivers an extra 160BHP from the wasted energy provided by the MGU-K and MGU-H. Players can either have ERS on automatic, where the computer controls the output for you, or manual where you have six modes to play with ranging from energy recovery to overtaking cars and setting a hot lap. Whilst this is a vital part of F1, the game doesn’t provide too much information or a Tutorial sequence on how to use it and how to manage the energy onto the cars, which could put some F1 newbies in confusion when they play around with it for the first time.
The handling and physics model for F1 2018 has been re-vamped and is more realistic than ever before. This year’s edition has been helped by the F1 team’s providing real-life data from the cars that are applied into the game. The damage model has been updated making racing wheel-to-wheel more risky as contact could lead to damage that’ll heavily affect the performance of your car. Any damage sustained by hitting a barrier, a fellow car, bumps or even debris will make your car more tougher to turn and race with.
A new roster of classic cars have been added into the game expanding it to 20 classic cars, with all of the F1 2017 classics returning. Two cars from Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren during the 1970’s and 1980’s, including the 1976 cars from the film Rush, gives players a taste on the incredible torque and power that the cars provide. Those who pre-ordered the “Headline Edition” of the game will have the privilege of two extra cars. The 2009 Brawn GP BGP-001 and the BMW Williams FW25. The Brawn GP car will bring back nostalgic memories to F1 fans as for the first time, they’ll experience the popular car for the first time. The BMW Williams is a joy to play with too, very powerful machinery.
F1 games over the years have often had forgiving AI to race with. They often bail out of moves, give you space in corners if you decided to release your “inner-Daniel Ricciardo“. This year, they’re more ruthless than ever and will take any space given on track. Battles are more intense on track and make the game more enjoyable to play now. Turn One sees AI’s go for space in a bid to make up places. They will also make mistakes on track too. Locking up, mechanical failures or making contact with fellow racers makes the races feel more active and keeps you on your toes.
Added to this year’s game sees the return of the Hockenheimring and for the first time, Paul Ricard. Racing around the new circuit with the new AI saw some great battles throughout the circuit and was pretty enjoyable to race on. The new data from the team also helps with the tracks as you’ll feel and encounter bumps and surfaces that are like their real life counter parts. So when driving around the streets of Monaco or the ever changing elevation of Spa-Francorchamps, you’ll feel the track and the car will behave like it compare to the real thing.
New for F1 2018 and for the real life of the sport is the Halo. Whilst some may not like the added feature on the car as it can be a distraction or a disturbance when attempting to look at the mirrors, Codemasters have added an option to remove the halo panel on the car for the cockpit camera to help those get a clearer vision when driving.
Sadly, the game still lacks any local or LAN multiplayer for those who wish to play the game with their friends at home. However, the multiplayer has been shaken up for a more competitive and enjoyable experience. A new ranking and safety system has been introduced as a system so you’ll match players with similar ratings to you. A lot of work has gone into the multiplayer to fix any issues from last year’s game and to prepare for the upcoming F1 eSports Series.
THE CHEQUERED FLAG
In conclusion, F1 2018 is big step up from F1 2017 for it’s performance, graphics, life span and enjoyment. The game feels more evolved and advanced that ever before, thanks to the extra data and power that F1 has given to the developers in creating an F1 experience like no other. Whilst the lack of local multiplayer and new game modes may not satisfy some gamers, the overall game will certainly keep racing fans enjoyed for the season. Codemasters’ franchise has become F1’s platform for the gaming market. It’s their Madden, their FIFA etc. and every year they set the bar high for next year’s installment.
PROS OF F1 2018
- Rich and Glorious Gameplay graphics, sound and design
- Expanded Career Mode with the return of Press clippings
- Added Roster of Classic Cars
- AI are more raceable than ever
- Multiplayer promises to be more competitive based
CONS OF F1 2018
- Lack of Tutorial Mode, especially for the new ERS Modes
- No Local Multiplayer
- Same Cut scenes from last previous F1 Games
Score: 9/10 – Certainly one of the best F1 games ever created, but small features are missing to make this the ultimate F1 gaming experience.