F1 2019 Review (PS4)
Codemasters made great strides last year with the release of F1 2018. F1 2019 looks to build on the successes by offering a wider range of gameplay features and a deeper user experience.
F1 2018 really focused on an improvement to the core part of the game, the racing. Handling was made a lot more realistic as the game models were brought in line with the wider, grippier cars of the sport. What was lacking in F1 2018 was any sort of inspiration away from the track.
F1 2019 has tackled this head on. The minute you launch the game into the main menu you get the sense of how much effort has gone into the user experience. F1 2018 had a plain, single lined menu. F1 2019 has a much more approachable menu that presents the modes you’ve been playing front and centre.
Which is great, as there are a lot more modes and options to delve into. Career mode is obviously there as the main one, along with jumping into single races. There are also the historical challenges there, along with a car gallery for viewing the classic cars that are in F1 2019.
But a lot more focus has been put on to multiplayer. Leagues and ranked races are there as usual. But new for this year is a weekly event. Monday through Friday you have the opportunity to practise and run Qualifying. Then on Saturday and Sunday there are race slots every hour that you can join. Competing in these races will award you points that can then be spent on customisation.
That’s right, online races are now done in cars that all have the same specification, but with your own custom livery. There are several preset designs, most of which you will need to unlock, but you can then choose the colours to use on them.
You also get to choose the race suit and helmet of your driver, again being able to modify the colours. It may sound like a small thing, but it makes a big difference to the appeal of playing online, and is something fans have been looking for.
F1 2019 is also the first time that we have seen such a wide range of cars in the franchise. Along with the field of official F1 teams, and the broad selection of classic cars that we have grown used to expecting, F1 2019 also adds in the cars and teams of Formula 2.
This means that when you start a career mode, you need to select a Formula 2 team to join. You don’t however get the drive a full season. But instead the career mode runs you through a few snapshot scenarios on your way to earning a Formula 1 seat.
Codemasters have also walked the same line that so many sports games have done in recent years, by adding in a bit of story to the career mode. During the above scenarios you have two key figures around you in Formula 2, your teammate and a rival.
The scenarios, and in between press events, are very much playing up the competitive rivalry between the three of you, depending on the results of the race.
All three of you progress into Formula 1 at the end of the season. It doesn’t actually seem to matter how you did in the Formula 2 races, but more on which team and driver academy you selected, as to which F1 teams are willing to give you a contract.
And once the F1 season is underway, these rivalries are pushed back to just questions during post race interviews and press clippings that your PR provides you with. You do get a bonus for selecting either of them in the games long standing “Rivals” section of the career.
Codemasters certainly haven’t pushed to boat all the way out as the likes of EA have done with their story mode careers in FIFA and Madden. But it is just a nice small touch to help break up the rinse and repeat nature of career mode in any racing simulator.
No. Unfortunately not. Getting your game settings right is just a tricky experiment. Especially if you join one of the midfield teams and are expecting to go wheel to wheel in each race. It’s simply not going to happen.
The best I managed was joining Toro Rosso and being “best of the rest” in most races. I could usually see the gap to 6th (in most cases), but the rest of the pack would be stacked up in a queue behind me. This was as much evident in a wet British Grand Prix, where I had pushed too hard and actually ran out of fuel at the end of the race. Yet none of the AI attempted to overtake me coming out of the last corner and I coasted over the line retaining my position.
Factory upgrades have been a success
But that really is the only qualm I have over F1 2019. For an annual game franchise, Codemasters have made plenty improvements over the last couple of years. And even with all the extra features and improvements they squeezed into F1 2019, they still managed to ship it earlier in the year than the normally would! F1 2019 also has a noticeable graphical improvement over F1 2018. But at 200 mph you might miss it!