It is August so of course we have the new official F1 game from Codemasters coming out on Xbox One, PS4 & PC on Friday 24 August 2018. As you would expect the game has all of the official drivers and all 21 tracks of the 2018 Formula 1 Season. But what else sets it apart from past entries in the series and other racers on the market? Let’s get into my review and find out shall we?
First up, the game is gorgeous. Stunning in fact especially on Xbox One X, which I reviewed the game on, and PS4 Pro in breath-taking 4K resolution with high dynamic range (HDR) at a blistering 60 frames per second (FPS). In fact it is one of the best examples of HDR I’ve seen in a game never mind just the racing game genre. It is not just stunning either but more highly detailed than ever before with each track looking nigh on 1:1 with it’s real life counterpart. Every car is highly detailed from the pristine bodywork right down to the nuts ands bolts holding them together. Visually the game is astonishing.
F1 2018 is not just visually astounding but also the handling and physics model is absolutely bang on so it feels absolutely fantastic to play as well. In fact it is one of the best handling I have ever experienced in a racing game, the controls are tight and responsive and this is further complimented by how different each of the 2018 cars handle with subtle nuisances not to mention how wildly different they feel against the classic F1 cars featured in the game, more on those later, and you can feel the difference still whilst playing through the career mode and applying vehicle upgrades to your car with resource points. As with the more recent entries in the F1 series there is dynamic weather in races and it is even more impressive looking in F1 2018 and feels very realistic in the way weather affects the car’s handling.
As mentioned above the game features all the official cars and tracks of the 2018 Formula 1 Season, including the Circuit Paul Ricard which has been absent from F1 since the mid 80s and also Hockenheim Ring returned to the official calendar this year so of course that is represented in the game. There are also a staggering 20 classic F1 cars from years gone by like the 1976 Ferrari T312 T2, the 1972 Lotus 72D, the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 and the 1992 Wiliams FW14B to name a few. I cannot begin to tell you the joy I felt jumping into the 1992 Williams FW14B and rattling it around some of my favourite F1 tracks as me and my dad were huge fans of the great Nigel Mansell when I was a boy so this and all the other classic cars on offer bring back great memories of being an F1 fan for 30+ years.
When you first boot up the game you will create your own driver, giving them a name, avatar picture, choose their helmet and nationality before jumping to the main menu. From there are several game modes on offer from the full career mode which follows the official F1 2018 race calendar with the Grand Prixs in the same order as you would expect. During career and before each race weekend you are at your work station where you can check your emails from your team and spend resource points earned from racing on upgrades in 4 key areas of the car Power, Aerodynamics, Durability and Chassis, check your team’s expectations for the coming race and check the weather forecast for the weekend so you can plan your race strategy accordingly. You can customise driving assists to suit your skill level and even those who are not very good at racing games have lots of assistance options here so they can have a more approachable experience and more seasoned racing fans can turn these assists off if they want a more realistic, challenging experience. You can set the length of races and qualifying sessions from full length, half length, quarter length to just 5 laps if you want quicker races less demanding on your time and one shot qualifying which gives you one flying lap to set your best time in. You can tune your car however you want and it is fairly intuitive with easy to use sliders so even novice players can get to grips with it with minimal confusion and each aspect is accompanied by an explanation of how each part affects the car’s performance on track.
In each weekend there are 3 practice sessions, qualifying and then the race but you can skip practice if you’re fairly confident and go straight to qualifying if you prefer then onto the race. After races from time to time you will be interviewed by the press and will have several dialogue options that affect your performance with your team and fans off the track and can increase and decrease your reputation depending on your answers. This adds a bit more to the career mode of previous games and having the choices affect your reputation and the resources available to you for car upgrades fleshes out the career nicely as well as giving you something to do in between racing.
Other modes on offer are Grand Prix in which you can setup your own championship season of whichever tracks and however many you want in either modern 2018 or classic cars. You can anything from a single race weekend to a full season of multiple tracks. Setting the race length, rules and assists to your liking. Multiplayer which has ranked and unranked lobbies as well as a full championship mode. In unranked and championship mode you can race online against other players where you can join a lobby or setup your own with your own custom ruleset. Ranked mode pairs you against similarly skilled players where you can choose the length of races.
Time Trial allows you to race solo around any of the tracks and try and set your best time to compete against friends and online leaderboards. Event gives you weekly events on featured tracks where you have to beat a variety of challenges against online leaderboards. Championships has two modes Championships which are a vast number of specific race challenges in a variety of different cars and tracks in which you have to complete them to earn stars to unlock the next set. Invitational Events are featured in the career and offer short challenges ranging from time trials, checkpoint races and races where other drivers in slower cars have a head start and you have to catch up and pass them and in the Champioships menu they can be played at will choosing any Invitational Event you like to play through them on demand. During career the Invitational Events will pop up periodically between race weekend and offer additional challenges to earn resource points for the Career Mode.
In conclussion F1 2018 is Codemaster’s best and most feature rich F1 game to date. With stunning visuals, a superb handling and physics model, highly detailed graphics, a much more fleshed out career mode than previous years, a slew of other modes along with all the assists, tuning and customisation options we have come to expect from the series further refined to give you the most complete and best F1 game yet. I would strongly recommend picking this game up if you are a fan of the series or racing sims in general and if this is your first F1 or you have missed the last few entries then this is the best version to date.
Available On: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4 & PC
Release Date: 24 August 2018