F1 is back with the 2019 chapter of the franchise on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and this go around will make you feel more like a Formula 1 driver more than ever before.
There are some video game franchises that like to churn out a new title every single year. Call Of Duty is the one that immediately springs to mind. There has been at least one new CoD game every year since 2003. However, before CoD and other games were doing it, the world of sports had annual video games releases down pat. FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K, WWE. They all release a brand new game every year. Although the games might not get as much recognition for doing so, Formula 1 can also be included in that list. F1 2019 hit store shelves this past weekend, and as always, it is a must-have for any avid fan of the sport.
Early iterations of F1 games were simply about fans being able to drive around some of their favorite tracks using their favorite racers. Modern day gaming naturally calls for so much more than that, and F1's video game developer, Codemasters, continues to deliver on that. F1 2019's graphics are simply breathtaking and the detail is incredible, down to the flecks of mud landing on your visor should you veer off the track and drive through some grass.
Formula 2 Has Joined The Battle
While incredible and accurate graphics are a must for a modern F1 game, what we weren't expecting was for the game to have a story mode. For the first time ever, players are able to drive Formula 2 cars in an F1 game. In fact, if you want to play through the game's career mode, which we highly recommend you do, you have to first ascend through the ranks of F2. You don't have to play an entire season, but instead, have to play through a few scenarios complete with cut scenes. You can play an F2 season outside of the career mode as well, if you so choose.
As you walk around the F2 paddock, you'll meet Lucas Weber, your teammate, and Devon Butler, your arch nemesis. Before F1 teams frantically try to sign you, you'll clash with Butler on three separate occasions. How you perform in these three races will determine which F1 teams come knocking, and whether or not you win the F2 championship. It's a nice touch, and once those three races are out of the way, you can continue with your regularly scheduled season just like any other F1 game.
All Are Welcome
Like any good sports game, Codemasters wants to make its F1 games feel as close to the real thing as possible. It has done that with F1 2019 like no title before it. The amount of control players have over their car is remarkable. You won't merely feel like a prop as your AI mechanics and teammates work around you. You can be as involved as you like. If you are an F1 savant, we would recommend diving head first into every tweakable extra the game has to offer. It certainly made the experience a better one for us.
That being said, one of the other things F1 does incredibly well is it makes itself accessible to players of all experience and ability. We went into our first time playing the game having not tried out an F1 title for a number of years. The lack of a tutorial worried us a little. However, the difficulty level and assists make this a game for absolutely anyone. Never played F1 before? Drop the difficulty level down to one (on a scale that goes all the way up to 108) and throw on all the assists. Need a challenge? Crank it to that 108 difficulty level, which we have still been too afraid to try.
Organize Your Chaos
Whether you're an F1 amateur or the Lewis Hamilton of driving games, we would recommend doing a few laps of the track before heading online. As you might have guessed, online F1 races are pretty chaotic. Most players have no regard for the rules and the carnage that occurs going into the first corner is always catastrophic. It can be a lot of fun, but if you're serious about your F1 driving, we'd give it a miss.
That doesn't mean you have to forgo playing the game online entirely, though. For the first time ever, Codemasters has introduced online leagues to the F1 world. Closed groups allow players to meet at a previously agreed upon time to race and compete, with their results being recorded. Some leagues race at the same time every week, others venture out onto the track on a more regular basis. You can create your own league or request to join a previously created one.
Whichever sport was the first to decide that it would release a brand new, updated title every single year sort of shot itself in the foot. More annoyingly for the rest of the sporting world, it made a lot of extra work for them too. Truth be told, some games can get away with simply updating the rosters and watching the money roll in. F1 doesn't do that. Since it isn't as popular as the FIFAs and Maddens of the world, it likely feels the need to go the extra mile. With F1 2019, it has done that in major ways. Very few people get the chance to race Formula 1 cars for a living. The rest of us have to rely on games like F1 2019, so we greatly appreciate the amount of work that has gone into it.
4 Out Of 5 Stars
A copy of F1 2019 was purchased by TheGamer for this review. The game is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.