F1 2017 Codemasters Next Big Win

Since the mid 90’s I have been a gamer. The top of my gaming lists have always been racers. The sense of speed, the sound of the engine, the ability to do things that in the real world would have me locked up and my licence taken away has proven to be my addiction of choice.

Over the years that addiction has not faded away. Now my setup has grown to include a force feedback steering wheel and pedal set, soon to be topped off by a play seat. So as you can see, I am now more into my racing than ever before.

Another year has gone by and the time for the annual sports games is upon us. For me that means only one thing. A new racer!

Enter F1 2017 From Codemasters and Bandai Namco, but is this just another annual entry or is it something truly special? Only time will tell.

Over the past few years Codemasters have been refining their F1 titles. Deftly taking what felt like a generic racer and turning them into competent racing RPG's. F1 2017 has continued to build with an excellent career mode. Rather than jumping in the car and going from race to race, there is a huge amount of things to do between sessions and race weekends. This is largely thanks to the incredibly in depth R&D section and the need to manage your engine.

First things first, once you go through the standard “build your character” area, you are given a choice of which team do you pick to drive for? But beware, your choice does have consequences. Pick one of the front runners and sure, you'll be in a fast car that has the ability to be up near the front of the pack, but this is what your team expects. Pick one of the teams that is lower down the field and the expectations may be lower. You may improve over the season, but you’re in a car that simply will not keep up with the front runners.

Now comes the bit where F1 2017 really comes alive, and it’s not the racing. Well for now it’s not. Between races/sessions is where the real work is. You are required to maintain each part of your car. Finding that slim point that gives you a fast yet durable car. If you forget this part your engine can seize mid race, your gearbox could lose a gear and they're just two things that have already occurred to me. Sure you can swap things out if they do fail, but just like in a real F1 race, you suffer the penalties.

Before each race you have your practice sessions allowing you to fine tune your car and optimise your strategy for the race. You are given a list of tests to perform during practice that helps the team give you the information you need to get the fastest times out of yourself and the car. You can choose a setup with less downforce so you have more top end speed, or crank up the downforce for those tight and twisty tracks. Want an advantage off the line? You can lighten the fuel load meaning you will pit earlier than the rest of the field which may give you some clean air. These are all adjustments you can put into place and decisions you have to make.

Alongside all the new management features is an in depth research and development tree. If your car is lacking in certain areas then you can invest your research points. Research points are earned during races and also for completing the team’s objectives in practice which can improve things like, durability, power, handling, aero and the list goes on. This carries on through your career time with the team seeing you build your car the way you want to all the while improving as time goes on.

Now it's time for the racing and let’s face it, this is really why we are all here. F1 2017 truly shows you just how different racing an F1 car is from a regular old race car. If you drive it like you would a heavy sedan, you’re at the back. Touch the kerbs too much and not only does it unsettle the car but it can damage it very easily. I have to also mention that the sense of speed is just insane. With a decent gaming headset on with the volume cranked, you will feel your heart rate going up as you pull each gear on the way to 8th before a slight, ever so slight touch of the brakes and back down to 4th gear and using your accelerator to drive it through the corner all while there are others around you trying to do the same thing. F1 is so much faster than other forms of racing so everything happens faster. I found myself making more frequent but smaller corrections on the steering and would end up in the wrong gear because I’m used to down shifting twice not four times. Often I would hit a ripple strip that would shoot me out to the other side of the track while giving my favourite hand gesture, the angry fist shake, to other drivers as they bumped or crashed into me.

Returning in F1 2017 are the classic cars which are available in a single race or during your race season as an invitational event. Driving these older cars gives you a real sense of just how far the technology of F1 has come over the years and just how crazy some of these people driving them needed to be.

Issues in F1 do not come too frequently which is a delight. Other than a few slight graphical glitches during cut scenes which really doesn’t impact the game at all.

Codemasters have truly given us the best, most in depth F1 experience to date. If you’re a F1 enthusiast you will spend hours upon hours tinkering your setup to take hundredths off your lap times. If you’re more inclined to just jump in and have a race, it has you covered too with the Championships mode designed to be closer to arcade with less focus on the nitty gritty.

All in all a fantastic racer and a true homage to the sport. F1 2017 is available now across all platforms.

Pat (Snoogs)

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