It’s that time of year again, the tenth and latest edition in the Codemasters F1 series, F1 2019. I’ve been playing it extensively, and that’s why this review has taken long, somehow, I’ve managed to prise myself from its warm and loving clutches to give you the lowdown.
Well, let’s start with the crib sheet. All 10 teams and 20 drivers from the 2019 season reflecting the rules and regulations of the year. Classic cars making a return with a small culling and no real major additions other than the 2 cars from 2010 and the Senna vs Prost DLC. However, the main highlight is the addition of the Formula 2 Cars from 2018, and in 2019 (will come in an update later on) which frankly for me gives the game a much greater car depth and offers much potential. There is also an F1 car that dedicated for multiplayer (which was designed by Pat Symonds and F1 Tech Head Ross Brawn) which can be customized somewhat, and with the 21 rounds of the 2019 season and some short circuits thrown is as well.
With that out of the way the main question is how do the cars handle. While the 2019 cars have plenty of grunt and grip, the F2 cars a little bit less so, and depending on what type of period of classic car (early 70s or 2010 cars ). So, with the 19 cars, you have to manage the ERS which was introduced last year but seems much more vital to manage and keep on top of in the races along with the fuel and tyres. F2 cars are much simpler and basic, which by no means is a bad thing as fuel is preset, and the only thing to worry about is tyres and going flat out, but the classics are sort of in between the two, but performance depending on the era, but the overarching thing is that all of them handle on a knife edge compared to 2018 at least.
In the races, you still have to manage the fuel, ERS and tyres (depending on the car) but the car feels more delicate than before, from getting the power down in the slow corners or even changing directions in the esses requires more precision than before. It’s a fun challenge overall, and did take me time to dial in on the characteristics of the cars, and if wanted to, you can change the assists than you want to make it easier or harder.
Now, to the game modes themselves, career mode has had some small changes. Although fundamentally the same foundations. Firstly, instead of being thrown headfirst into an F1 season, now you start off in F2, but only in a few scenarios which is interesting and rather nice, but I would have much preferred to take on a full season which is a shame.
Secondly, you won’t be the only driver making an appearance in career mode as there will be two other drivers as well. Lukas Webber, who is a mild-mannered sporting driver who would put the team first, and Devon Butler who, and there isn’t a nice way to say this but is an arrogant arse, Butler will bend the rules if it fitted his agenda. As you get into the swing of the F1 season you will be getting press clippings from those two and more as you go through the season. This is one of the big game changes this year from life and soul is what the previous career modes lacked as career mode in the last game felt almost like a machine. Other than the R&D and the regulation changes it missed something more organic.
With the addition of driver transfers as well it really rectifies this. So, want to see Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the same team – it could happen or Daniel Avvacado (Riccardo, if you didn’t get the gag) returning to Red Bull, it could most definitely happen. Overall, while not a complete overhaul of the mode itself but with a few tweaks has greatly made the mode more immersive than ever before.
The game also features a Grand Prix mode where you can customize your race weekend from a 5 lap sprint to a full Grand Prix distance, or a feature and sprint race in F2 – It’s up to you completely. The time trial mode, which if you’ve never played a racing game or even existed, is pretty self-explanatory. Invitational modes are back and can be played all within your own time, and championship mode where you can compete in a large assortment of championships, from F1 and F2 official seasons to classics and much more.
My only real criticism is the lack of any real scenario modes, other than time-sensitive ones online. From 9 rounds of F1 or even the whole of 2018 season for F1 and F2 and yet nothing. Just seems like a wasted opportunity for me. Even the Senna Prost DLC is just more Invitational modes which for a rivalry as great as Senna Vs Prost, it’s disappointing for what it could have been, it’s almost an insult.
The dedicated Esports section is brand new, it shows where you can take part and or keep up to date and multiplayer has now the addition of leagues, which is a nice addition for folks out there who want to set up their own championship with their friends. I also can/or/can’t confirm that there is maybe an XNVR championship in the planning stage. With ranked and unranked modes as well it’s fairly well stocked. I haven’t found any of the bugbears that have infected the game yet, so far so good.
You can customize your driver’s overalls, gloves, helmet and multiplayer car. While it’s only changing colour on those liveries, it’s still something and I hope it would be more extensive than ever before in future editions but it’s a start. Also, for you F1 nerds out there like me, there is a showroom section where you can look in greater detail at the cars of the past and really appreciate them. For example, the fitting tribute to 3-time champion and the definitive “one tough son of a bitch” Nikki Lauda on the Mercedes.
Graphically is also greatly improved with improved lighting which particularly in the night races looks stunning. The environments have also been worked on to look much better than previous years and with the TV side of things greatly reflecting this including highlights of your races that a nice touch, it looks more like the real thing than ever before. The sound is spot on and technically no real framerate drops, bugs and glitches or physics fuck ups to report from my time.
In short, F1 2019 surprised me in some ways as with most sports games it’s not that much different than its predecessors. A handful of changes, which probably what you would understand, but some would hit home with some folks, others will complain that its rubbish and it should be like something 10 years ago or something.
While F1 2019 isn’t a revolution by any stretch all those changes are positive from the addition of Formula 2, to small changes to career mode. Graphical changes, and handling is now more on a knife edge and exciting. Small editions here and there, which added together to the strong foundations of F1 2017 and 2018 makes a big improvement. There is an aspect to improve upon, and there is still work to do, and like the sport itself from Mercedes to Williams, it hasn’t caught perfection yet. This will sound like a cliché, but this is the best f1 game Codemasters has done. Easily.
F1 2019 with its small changes here and there as greatly improved upon the Codemasters formula. From the addition of Formula 2 is a lovely little touch, along with the improved handling and graphical upgrades. There are still niggles like the Senna Prost DLC, lack of scenarios and fantasy content, but all this doesn’t stop it from being the best in the series.
- Career mode more engaging and full of life with Formula 2
- Scaringly lifelike graphics
- Fantastic handling model
- Lack of real-life scenarios
- Formula 2 in career mode a bit rushed
- Customization needs to be improved upon