The F1 is quite possibly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, racing sports going strong right now. This started way back in 1950, and in the last 69 years, we’ve seen some true legends. Such greats include the like of Senna, Schumacher, and more lately, Vettel and Hamilton. I could go on and on, but I’m not here to talk directly about the sport, I’m here to talk about Codemasters’ annual take on the sport. The big, most immediate question here is, does F1 2019 come out in pole, or does it trail behind? Thankfully, ladies and gents, it’s the former.
The second greatest question is whether or not those playing F1 2018 (which is merely ten months old, might I add) find much reason to bolt off that and run to this? The answer to that question isn’t quite as black and white. I’ll say this; if you’re like me, and you haven’t spent much time with the gaming media of F1, you’re going to be blown away. However, if you’re still sat playing this game’s immediate predecessor, despite some overall improvements and a few new additions, you might find things a bit too safe and familiar.
It’s fair to say that when it comes to a racing game that replicates a real-life event, you want said game to feel as close to that experience as possible. Players will want that true feeling of battling through the races alongside a large selection of highly detailed cars and tracks. Not to mention some great controls and plenty of customization. Well, folks, I can gladly report that this game has it all. For me, at least, this is as close to the F1 as I’ve ever felt, without watching or attending the sport, that is, and more importantly, it’s a damn fine blast.
F1 2019 pack all the usual fluff you’ve come to expect from the series as far as mode diversity and content goes. The main one you’ll be drawn to, however, is the F1 Career. This is where you’ll create your own driver across gender, name, and location, and dive on into the competition. Players start out as an upcoming F2 racer, in which you’ll need to fight your way through he ranks to be crowned the F2 Champion, and with this, comes a big leap into F1. This, is where the real fun begins, and arguably where the game opens up most.
Once you’re in, the game allows you to choose who you wish to race for, with all the industry’s offerings ripe for the picking; from McLaren to Mercedes, right through to Ferrari and heaps of other crowd favorites. It’s here, however, in which I found my one and only gripe with the game; it’s not very accessible for newcomers. The learning curve is very steep, with the controls especially feeling quite veteran-based starting out. Sure, there’s plenty of assists to lean on, but still, it takes a hell of a lot of tuning and practice here.
Everything from turning through to sensitivity is heightened, forcing a lot of loose feedback as a result. It took me a good while to gel with the overall handling, and a little while longer on top of that to find the feedback that was right for my play-style. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but at the very least, I was expecting something more easy to digest during the initial stages of play. Either way, once you do bond with the physics and the mechanics, there really isn’t anything quite like F1 2019; it’s every bit as deep as it is wholly engaging.
If you follow F1, you’ll know that racing in F1 is never about just the driver, but the team that the driver belongs to. The whole unit need to work together to pull in the wins and make them count, and this game does a remarkable job at replicating that without ever feeling tedious nor boring. That authenticity of hearing your team talking to you and advising you throughout each and every thrilling race is unreal, and you would do well to heed this advice, because going the opposite way can impact you later on in the game.
Like I said, it’s deep. The game features an R&D mode built into the career, and this beast acts like a game in itself with the sheer amount you can upgrade and spend on different factors for your vehicle. Naturally, the more you invest, the costlier things get, and things do indeed get more expensive and expansive as you dive deeper in, but unlike many of the game’s peers, you can truly feel each and every upgrade you work hard for. This not only makes subsequent races feel empowering, but each and every feat feels earned too.
F1 2019 also sports some choice factors that play into how your team responds to your actions as you work through the career. These choices are not always straightforward, but they do tend to have a hook attached to a bait, as the saying goes. One moment you’ll be impressing your team and earning skill points with them, and in the next, everyone freakin’ hates you and rarely wants to work with you. The crux of success lies within making the choices that feel right to you, regardless as to the effects that ripple from that point out.
When you meet choice-based situations, you’ll certainly want to read all of your options and pick carefully, whether or not it has an adverse rebound; that’s just life, after all. Between distributing points to better your capabilities, improving your car through the use of upgrades, and taking on qualifiers, races, and interviews, F1 2019 truly feels like a step forward for not just the series, but racing games on the whole. The whole experience feels like a game that puts you not only behind the wheel of a car, but in the mind of a pro.
Once you gel with the experience at hand, you’ll be hard-pressed looking for an excuse to turn it off. Almost every single aspect of F1 2019 feels weighted, necessary, and fluid, not just tacked on for the sake of it. Whether you’re improving your core resilience across several mechanics, weighing up different teams (all of which look for unique qualities in a racer) or, whether you’re just burning rubber, there isn’t anything quite like the feeling you get from this. It’s deep, it’s refined, it takes racing to a whole new level of entertainment.
Of course, once you’re done with the in-depth campaign, there’s still much to do elsewhere. The game brings back returning modes such as Time Trial and Championship, and Grand Prix. Collectively, these modes only bolster the game’s already impressive replay value and depth of content, with neat additions such as showrooms and theatre mode allowing you to get closer to the cars and on-track action than ever before. It’s a good job then, because the visual clarity here is outstanding, and a fairly huge step up from the likes seen in F1 2018.
The level of detail across both visual and audio presentation is unlike anything else. The cars all look stunning across each and every framework, even the old ones given to you with the Senna and Prost DLC look the part. Hell, for as morbid as it sounds, even crashing and watching your car fall to bits as you break apart looks authentic and well realized. It’s a beautifully rendered game, and beauty that’s especially captured in track design, being that they all look amazing and quite frankly, (putting on a Keanu Reeves voice) breathtaking.
The audio, as alluded to above, is equally as commendable. Each car, each action, and anything in between, has a distinct noise, and the depth here only amplifies how much work has gone into this year’s offering to make it stand out, and that, is certainly does. Now, depending on your setup, the racing will vary player to player, but for me, once I found my comfort zone, I could only sing the game some well deserved praises. It handles like a dream, if, well, a dream was loud, tense, and constantly energetic on a second by second basis.
Nevertheless, it’s a fine-tuned piece of work, and one I’ve no doubt will go down well with returning fans and newcomers alike. Those looking for deep customization, a truck load of content depth, the freedom to play tracks however they see fit, and all the innovation the series is known for so far, will be happy with what’s here. Sure, it takes some getting used to, sure, it’s not the most accessible of racers, and sure, it may just feel like an expansion to F1 2018 on paper, but bear with it, because this will surprise you in more ways than one.
F1 2019 follows in the footsteps of many of its predecessors, being that it takes everything that came before it and makes heaps of improvements across the board. Whilst still not as close to perfection as a game can get, it’s clear that the series is on the right track. It looks amazing, it plays well, and there’s a shed load of content to dive on. Whether you’re a newcomer or you’re jumping over from F1 2018, there’s much to marvel at and enjoy here.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.