The yearly entry in the F1 videogame series has arrived and while fans of the series surely don’t need swaying as to whether they should be investing the game, chances are that if you’re reading this review, you do.
Codemasters has held the license to develop the F1 series for, gosh, X years now and the team behind the game continues to impress.
This year, things were mixed up a bit, at least as in so far as the much-lauded career mode is concerned.
Rising through the order
If you choose, and you really should choose, you can take part in three Formula 2 races ahead of starting your career in Formula 1. The cars handle rather differently and even the sound is noticeably different.
During the three races you are met with a rival and several interactions between you and he take place.
It made me smirk and it offered a nice break from the constant need to concentrate on your performance.
Your rival and F2 teammate follow you into the F1 2019 season where you pick a team. Unfortunately the little cutscenes in the F2 section don’t continue through into the F1 season.
Depending on the team you pick during F2 your value to an F1 team might increase. In my play through I was offered considerably more from Racing Point making my decision to join the team easier.
It’s from here that things feel decidedly different to F1 2018.
In that game I once again picked an underdog team and proceeded to breeze through the order at every session. In F1 2019 your car’s performance is very much dependent on the upgrades you pick and during the early races you will be outgunned by the top three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
The same goes for McLaren, Haas and Toro Rosso and the rest of the order to be frank. Drivers also feel as if they have more of a personality on track. Verstappen for instance has pulled more risky manoeuvres than I can count, actually I can, it was three because I spun off and lost three races.
You do have goals to meet and that means taking part in practice sessions, qualifying and of course the race itself.
With settings set at Full Practice, One-Shot Qualifying and 25 percent Race length, one weekend should take you about and hour, to an hour and a half to complete which is quite a task.
Of course you can speed this up by simulating sessions or skipping them entirely but because these activities reward points with which you can upgrade your car, simply doing the race is often the best choice you can make.
Beautiful until you stop
This review was conducted on a PC running a rather aged AMD FX 8320, a Radeon RX 580 and 16GB of RAM, F1 2019 automatically set graphics to Ultra. I tested it out and performance was great. I easily hit 50 – 60fps (depending on what else I was running in the background) at 1080p and the game looks gorgeous.
Tyre wear is incredible and you can’t help but smile as the sheen wears off as the tyres begin to warm up and grip the track. Damage is well done and looks incredibly realistic especially when small bumps remove small parts of the body work.
The trouble is that when you look at everything outside of the track and car, it gets a bit murky. Crowds look fine but I found myself actively trying to keep them out of photos. Water especially doesn’t inspire the same awe that the cars do. Of course, one can argue that the cars are the point and at 320kmph, I absolutely agree but I feel it worth mentioning the above.
There are also a few strange audio oddities. During some announcements, the change between tone is so abrupt that you immediately notice it’s a different recording. It can be a bit jarring at times but it is few and far between enough to not detract from the game as a whole.
There are microtransactions in F1 2019 and while I prefer they were not there at all, I can understand the need for them to be there. All microtransactions are cosmetic and you can see what you are buying but honestly, it’s not needed, you can customise your character enough with the base styles you are given.
While we aren’t a fan of the microtransactions, they can be ignored completely.
While there are a few pocks on the surface of F1 2019, the game is as deep as ever and perhaps the most enjoyable to date.
For newcomers, the career is well explained and tweaking is encouraged rather than made so complex it’s unapproachable. That having been said, the depth of the systems will satisfy the enthusiasts who have grown to love the F1 games for that reason.
This is a great entry into the F1 series and let’s be honest, somebody has to break up the Mercedes domination in F1 this year, why not let it be. Yes, beating them digitally counts.