I can only imagine that as the years roll on, it becomes increasingly difficult to continue adding new and exciting features to franchise based games like F1, generally being limited to new season changes, such as which driver is on which team, and the livery that they race with. Here we have F1 2019, Codemaster’s latest entry to the F1 franchise of games. So what, if anything, is new here?
Perhaps the biggest new feature is the addition of the F2 feeder series, your performance in which dictates the offers that will be on the table for you when you move up to the premier league of F1. However, the way it’s set up in career mode means that you’re only taking part in a handful of races in the F2 series, and even then - the first couple of those have you joining mid-race. It’s there more to setup your rivalry with the cocky know it all “win at all expense” Devon Butler, and introduce you to your “for the greater good of the team”-mate Lukas Weber. A great way to set up the story as to your friends and rivals within the main crux of the career, but it does feel a little on the short side.
When you collectively move up to the Formula 1 career with friend and foe in tow, you’ll end up replacing three drivers that are in the current roster. That’s strikes as quite a large change if you were expecting to go up against the complete 2019 field, but also lends to the continuation of the admiration and animosity you’ve built up with the drivers in the F2 series. It also leads into one of the next big changes Codemasters have up their sleeve; drivers can now change teams mid-season and aren’t fixed. They can come and go from the sport, and sign new contracts as they do. It’s a small change, but adds credence to these living, breathing teams.
Career mode, otherwise, remains largely the same as F1 2018, there’s the full swathe of racing available, from practice sessions through to the race itself, and the continuation of the practice session challenges, that take practice from just looping the track to actually learning the track. It’s a worthwhile endeavour to take part in these sessions, as they reward you with the points you require to upgrade your car and team to the best of their potential. These upgrades really come into their own when you’re playing the game at harder difficulties, where the additional speed or reliability of your car can really make the difference between finishing at the front of the pack - or even finishing at all.
Codemasters have done a great job of explaining all of the many nuances of Formula 1 racing to you in guided chunks, that allow you to take on board what’s being explained to you. Meaning that even complete newcomers to the format will be able to race like the greats on track without being overwhelmed by pit strategy, DRS and ERS.
If you’re not about all of the team upgrading and whatnot, you can choose to dive into a championship and just tear around the tracks. No drama or tomfoolery in sight (barring the fuss you’ll kick up when you get it wrong into the Monaco chicane... again). You can also take part in a full F2 series here, as well as some other specialities, like the classic F1 cars.
The AI aren’t afraid of you either, making them feel a lot more alive than other racing games have done. If you’re charging them up the straight, they’ll make moves to defend their position, and they will jostle for their position if you’re trying to out brake them into a corner, leaving you as little room as possible for error. But they’re not always this aggressive, either. If it’s clear your going to get around them, they’ll stay out of your way to avoid incident. Usually.
Graphically, it’s more of the same as last years’ outing, only this time, Codemasters have really dialled in the night time environments. Instead of being silky black night sky, we have a muggy, heat-haze driven air of diffusion if lights brightening up the circuit. It’s a subtle change to an otherwise great looking engine, and really amps up the atmosphere in these darker areas. Again, from a sound perspective this time, the game continues sounding great from 2018, with more nuance in the little things, like the change in the sound of the wind rushing over the aerofoil when DRS is engaged.
F1 2019 (Reviewed on Xbox One X)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Another solid entry into the F1 franchise for Codemasters. It’s nice to see them expanding the game to represent how drivers work their way up into the F1 roster from the F2 feeder series. Being able to build your driver up from (an albeit short) F2 career really lends credence to the story of your driver making their way up through the ranks.