In one week from now you’ll be able to download the very latest instalment in the decade long Formula One Game franchise from Codemasters – and while it looks bloody good, it’s the gameplay they’ve introduced that will make it stick.
From your first flying lap you’ll think the graphics are out of this world – but that’s because you’re seeing those crisp new shiny F1 tyres which is new to the real-world sport in 2019, and of course comes to the game. It tricks your mind into thinking there’s a radical step-change in graphics, but in reality it’s just an immensely solid improvement on F12018 which was already outstanding.
From the marks you make in the grass to the drops of water coming off the tyres in the wet there’s no doubt the realism has been dialled up a notch.
Oh and the sound, the sound is glorious. On an “offboard” camera angle there’s a new depth and realism to the sound for sure.
But to be honest, I think it’s the radical changes to the entire set of gameplay options that will impress the most, and have you coming back to the game night after the night – if the family allows it.
For starters, your career starts in F2 not F1 – which of course any prospective F1 drive would likely have done. But don’t worry – you can skip the feeder series if you want to get straight to F1.
When you start your F2 career you’re introduced to your team-mate Lukas Weber, and your closest rival Devon Butler.
The purpose of this is to test you, profile you, understand your style.
Will you let your team mate pass you under team orders? Will you fall for the mind games the try on you out in the paddock?
In our limited testing we found ourselves thrown into the guts of an F2 race, rather than having to compete in the whole weekend. This means you can earn a driver reputation during a series and perhaps join Weber and Butler in F1.
If you do, you’ll continue to get questions from the press about them and your rivalry as you race through an F1 season.
You’ll also race against George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon – all real drivers who successfully made their way to F1 in 2019.
A really great addition to the game overall.
Within the F1 season you’ll see all the 2019 drivers, earn a point for a race fastest lap and for the first time the player and official drivers are now capable of signing contracts with different teams.
It’s also now rare to switch teams mid-season.
My son noticed a possible change to the computer driven cars on track, as Lewis Hamilton moved more clearly out of the way of me during his out-lap while I was on a hot lap in practice, something I’d not noticed in previous editions.
Multiplayer has long been a part of the game, but for 2019 you have a whole new look. You can customise your car design, create your own league and as an administrator of a league you can apply grid penalties and edit results after the races.
For all players there are new Weekly events in both Standard and Classic Grand Prix cars, and have the week split into two phases, practice and qualifying as one, with the race as a second.
As for actually driving, well – it’s hard to do a direct comparison because my F12018 setup has been a year long evolution. Needless to say my times were spot on for 2019 but there was a very different feeling to the car. It seemed to snap more under steering for me – but that’s what I’ll spend the next 12 months working with my engineers on – to get it just right:)