F1 2017

Up­grade trees, a deep ca­reer mode and clas­sic cars put F1 2017 back on track.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Phil Iwa­niuk

There are two ways to look at an­nu­al­ized li­censed re­leases like F1 2017. One is to com­pare it to last year’s ef­fort and take a stock in­ven­tory of all its lit­tle it­er­a­tive im­prove­ments. The other way is to com­pare it to the real thing: Ev­ery­one’s fa­vorite waste of a Sun­day af­ter­noon, Formula One. Ei­ther one of th­ese meth­ods demon­strates, in F1 2017’ s case, what a stel­lar job Code­mas­ters has achieved this year. FIFA’s de­vel­op­ers can be pretty sure foot­ball will be the same cav­al­cade of tum­bling mil­lion­aires when they set to work on a new FIFA, but for the ever-chang­ing Formula One it’s a dif­fer­ent story. The tires are wider and more durable this year, and the cars man­u­fac­tured to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent set of reg­u­la­tions. As a re­sult, 2017’s cars are sig­nif­i­cantly quicker than last sea­son (so much so that driv­ers com­plained of neck­ache from all the G-force dur­ing pre­sea­son test­ing), and F1 2017 ben­e­fits from that enor­mously. The cars are sim­ply more fun to drive than in the last game. They suck onto the tar­mac through high-speed cor­ners and bite into apexes as you turn in. They’re faster than ever, but not skit­tish like the aero-heavy cars of a decade ago.

They’re also be­ing driven by very con­vinc­ing AI op­po­nents who ex­ploit gaps in brak­ing zones and pounce on your mis­takes, but usu­ally leave a fair amount of space while you’re bat­tling. This is very much part of the it­er­a­tive im­prove­ment stock take, since con­vinc­ing AI has long been a se­ries strong­hold, but this year the rac­ing is closer and less li­able to have you lam­bast­ing other driv­ers like Screamin’ Seb Vet­tel. Sev­eral front wings were dam­aged dur­ing my sea­son-long feud with Haas’s Kevin Mag­nussen, for ex­am­ple, but the rac­ing was gen­tle­manly. Well, just about.

With the fun­da­men­tals in fine shape, Ca­reer Mode re­turns with a raft of im­prove­ments head­lined by clas­sic car events. The ros­ter of Wil­liams, McLaren, Fer­rari, and Re­nault cham­pi­onship-win­ning mo­tors feels great, not to men­tion fright­en­ing, but their in­clu­sion via some to­ken mid-sea­son track days be­lies the dif­fi­culty in hav­ing such a small num­ber with which to cre­ate events that make sense. They’re best en­joyed in time tri­als, where their in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics can be en­joyed with­out any over­ar­ch­ing ob­jec­tive.

Else­where in ca­reer mode, an up­grade tree of which Path of Ex­ile would be proud awaits you, and your route through it will de­pend on your team. My Force In­dia’s en­gine seemed to be made of elas­tic bands and lolly sticks, for ex­am­ple, and thus up­grad­ing ICE and turbo re­li­a­bil­ity be­came para­mount. In a dif­fer­ent ca­reer, though, I found my­self at Toro Rosso with a re­silient en­gine and gear­box, but strug­gling for aero grip.

This might not sound ex­cit­ing, but to the kind of F1 fan who still re­mem­bers Juan Pablo Mon­toya’s ‘oh deer’ joke it’s all cru­cial. In re­al­ity, rac­ing is more about car man­age­ment than hit­ting blis­ter­ing lap times, and in ev­ery mode bar time tri­als and quick on­line races, you’ll be in­structed by your engi­neer to lift and coast in or­der to save fuel, short-shift to save the gear­box, go easy on the tires, and switch en­gine modes. That kind of ex­pe­ri­ence might not be for ev­ery­one, but to those will­ing to re­ally en­gage with its level of sim­u­la­tion, it makes a P13 fin­ish at rainy Sil­ver­stone with only six gears feel just as grat­i­fy­ing as a win.

Con­troller feed­back is leaps and bounds bet­ter than last year

Per­for­mance up­grades

Last year’s per­for­mance is­sues have been ironed out, too. Max set­tings and a locked 60 fps wasn’t pos­si­ble on a GTX 1070 in F1 2016, but in this sig­nif­i­cantly pret­ti­fied in­car­na­tion it’s child’s play. Con­troller feed­back is leaps and bounds bet­ter than last year, too, and although the F1 se­ries has never ex­celled with wheels the way Project Cars and As­setto Corsa does, a sim­i­lar step for­wards has been made in that de­part­ment, too.

F1 2017 is as much as you could hope for from a se­ries with such a Sisyphean re­lease ca­dence: Pol­ished, more au­then­tic than ever, and brings well-op­ti­mized vis­ual im­prove­ments to PC. Un­til the real sport signs off on loop-de-loops, this is as good as vir­tual F1 gets.

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