Few racing games truly stand out on console. There’s Forza, Project CARS, and some under-appreciated hits such as ONRUSH and NASCAR. Codemasters’ F1 series doesn’t quite enjoy the same level as hype as the former two examples, but that’s not to say that they’re not worthy of it. On the contrary, in fact. Outside of Forza Motorsport, F1 is king of the ring and if my time with F1 2018 has taught me anything, it’s that Codemasters are driving in all the right lanes as they continuously refine this series to new heights, year on year, despite not a great deal of content change.
F1 2018 is the official videogame representation of the 2018 Fia Formula One World Championship. Due to the sheer level of acclaim that F1 2017 received, Codemasters has had their work cut out for them. You would be forgiven for taking the stance that F1 2018 is merely an improved version of F1 2017, which again makes me wonder why we’re still receiving annual releases in place of a subscription service, but that’s a topic for another time. Bottom line? There’s every change that if you enjoyed F1 2017, you’re going to love Codemasters’ latest entry in the series.
You see, whilst indeed it’s hard to compare the two on paper, in practice, it’s the opposite. Subtle yet noticeable changes have been made to put F1 2018 in a league of its own. It’s more responsive, it’s more fluid and it’s ultimately more satisfying. Career is no doubt where all the action is at. Here, you’ll select your team, meet your agent and then work your way up to the top of chain. One interesting twist is that the action within the career is not isolated to the track. There’s now choices that will directly affect your career when you’re not even sat behind the wheel of your motor.
This comes in the form of the interview system that takes place between races. Here, you’ll be put on the spot as the press quiz you about your performance. The kicker here is that the answers that you give will affect how you’re perceived by the F1 world, as well as (more importantly) how your own department sees you. This is achieved through dialogue choices and certainly throws some risks into the fields of play. Shout your mouth off and you may find yourselves in a touchy spot with your own team. It’s an interesting dynamic to say the least, and something I hope is maintained moving forward.
My only gripe is that there’s not a great deal of response time during these segments. It’s a small gripe indeed, but a gripe I wanted to share nevertheless. As expected, and being the official videogame counterpart, F1 2018 sports all of the official teams, the drivers and all twenty one circuits of the 2018 season. This includes the introduction of Circuit Paul Ricard and the return of the Hockenheimring. Furthermore, F1 2018 also includes twenty classic F1 cars, the most in the franchise’s history. Now, enough of what the game has going for it for now, how does it handle?
Remarkably well. The game comes with all the options and tools that you could hope for to tweak the assists and the fields of play as you see fit. Regardless as to how you race (and what options you race with), F1 2018 is the pinnacle of its kind. Each motor handles magnificently and this is where you’ll notice the most change between F1 2018 and F1 2017, being that you actually feel in full control. The refinements that have been made, although small, have gone a long, long way. Codemasters’ use of real world F1 data is clearly pushing the series in the right direction.
That sense of unparalleled break-neck speed, grouped with the responsiveness of each motor and track, as well as the loud thunderous roars of combined engines, elevates F1 2018 far above its peers. It’s as authentic as it gets, and that’s the biggest compliment I can possible extend. It can be tricky if this is your first F1 experience, but the game does a good job at feeding you into the basics of play through practice sessions. It helps, of course, that F1 2018 looks and sounds outstanding. Each track, motor, weather system and anything in between is nothing short of breathtaking.
Make no mistake about it, this is a simulation game. Even if you’re a casual player that’s dipping their toes into the formula for the first time, you’ll still need to be mindful of all the mechanics and functionalities of the real world counterpart; setup, rules, tyre life-span, fuel depletion and so forth. Though, even with that in mind, F1 2018 is certainly going to please thanks to its realism, its authenticity and its accessibility. All of the additional modes are present too, such as Grand Prix, Time Trials, Championship, Multiplayer and so on; each bringing the expected content along for the ride.
One thing that I do want to point out is that on two occasions, the game’s framerate began to spin out of control when a lot of action was present on-screen at once. I tried to replicate this after the first occurrence but couldn’t nail down the same results. However, after it happened again in another run, I summarize that perhaps a patch is due to remedy the issue. It was a very fleeting occurrence and did little to hinder the experience, but it’s something I wanted to make a note of all the same. With this to the side, there’s very little to complain about. Codemasters has dished an excellent racer.
Despite some very minor issues, F1 2018 is the best of its kind, and certainly the best in the series so far. The high level of visual and audio detail, grouped with the care and attention to authenticity, collectively makes for an experience that’s robust, faithful and deep. Codemasters’ subtle yet noticeable changes over F1 2017 takes an already distinguished racer and makes it bigger and better than ever.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.