Taken out by a Ferrari at turn one? Very authentic
The ‘drive as fast as you dare’ F1 of yesteryear is now a clipboard-toting ‘drive as fast as the fuel/tyres/battery allows’. Regardless of how enjoyable that is (read ‘isn’t’) for real-world audiences, it makes for a very different kind of racing game. Tweaking last year’s superb effort rather than overhauling it, this feels like it’s been optimised for the hardcore fans of the sport. The superb career mode is largely unchanged, but the small tweaks make a huge difference to how involved you feel at every stage. The returning press interviews put your reputation and even car development firmly in your own hands: gush about the team and your rep goes up. Tell the press that you were an ‘idiot magnet’ in that last session and said idiot’s team will think less of you. You can even praise your aerodynamics department and they’ll give you more favourable prices on R&D parts. It’s easy to understand but, with far-reaching consequences, provides greater leverage to shape the game to your liking.
On the track, the cars feel a little heavier, and less skittish over kerbs. The newly-added tyre carcass heat level doesn’t noticeably do anything last year’s game didn’t, as you still have to manage your tyres. However, this year the Energy Recovery System is also manual (if you so wish), which sees you managing the level of the battery as you drive. That’s on top of the existing fuel richness settings that acted as a turbo, which means double the scope for tactical play. Use it well and the game absolutely shines.
However, such complexity isn’t for everyone, and while playability is significantly increased on more basic difficulty levels, it’s just not an arcade racer, especially when the damage modelling feels worse than in F1 2010, which is frankly inexcusable. New track Paul Ricard is a shadow of its 1990 self, looking like someone went crazy with a paint roller in a car park. And while it does include a trademark flat-out right-hander, it’s yet another sterilised version of a oncegreat circuit.
Visuals have been improved, with more realistic human likenesses (just watch Adrian Newey run off the podium with the trophy when the champagne starts to fly) and more naturalistic environments. It’s not perfect, though: the game can stutter when the AI pits, and the replays have some serious framerate issues, which spoil the otherwise excellent TV-like presentation.
There are 20 themed/classic championships for variety, further classic invitationals and extra downloadable events, but the modern career mode feels super-deluxe next to any of them. Not all of the game feels state-of-the-art, but that modern core is exquisite. Maybe one day Codemasters will make a dedicated, retro F1 game. Until then... embrace modernity. Use as much ERS as you dare.
“WATCH ADRIAN NEWEY RUN OFF THE PODIUM WHEN THE CHAMPAGNE FLOWS.”
Passing the AI is harder in F1 2018, as it often takes its line, Vettel-style.
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