Formula One, Formula 2 and Senna vs Prost Legends content? Yes please
“There’s plenty of close racing to be done thanks to the excellent AI”
PUBLISHER CODEMASTERS DEVELOPER CODEMASTERS BIRMINGHAM ETA 28 JUNE
It’s amazing how time flies – it’s already been ten years since Codemasters took over the official Formula One licence. But there’s much less of an ‘incremental upgrade’ feeling for F1 2019; this year’s offering is a game of firsts. For starters, it now also includes Formula 2, acting as a feeder series for the career mode, allowing you to race alongside the four F1 newcomers who raced in last year’s F2 season, graduating alongside them and even taking or rejecting team orders in the process.
There’s also an emphasis on rivalries this year, even going so far as to having TOCA Race Driver- style story scenes between sessions, with one driver taunting you and another, more friendly racer, offering advice.
The difference in car handling between F2 and F1 cars is stark, with the lower formula noticeably heavier and underpowered, but that does make for brilliantly close racing. You can compete in multiplayer with these cars, too, and with an even greater emphasis on esports, you can now set up your own racing league, vote on changes to the schedule, and view stats in the revamped Super License area. Better still, online races will feature one-minute highlight reels, as the game generates a video showing the best moments from the session. You’ll be rewinding the action to see who caused the collision, just like the world did with Senna and Prost back in 1989 and 1990.
Stuff of legends
And yes, those two icons really are in the game, at long last. Codemasters has somehow managed to wangle licences for both Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the same game, appearing as they did in the infamous 1990 World Championship. You will need to buy the ‘ Legends’ edition of the game if you want to experience this rivalry and their two utterly beautiful 1990 F1 cars, but fans will already be preordering just at the mention of their inclusion.
Do be warned, however, that the actual gameplay is likely to stop well short of recreating entire classic races. The only playable challenge at the preview event saw Prost or Senna attempting to overtake nine other cars (Lotus 78s by the looks of things), before catching and passing the other driver. That never happened in real life, and the Monza on show was definitely modern Monza, complete with DRS signs. That feels like a massive wasted opportunity, but there’s still hope something special will be lurking in the other, so-far-unseen challenges.
Fundamentally, though, the game is playing very nicely, and there’s plenty of close racing to be done thanks to the excellent AI. Max Verstappen even moved across us, under-braking during one close race at Silverstone, having already moved across to cover the inside: incredible realism. Speaking of which, the HUD now uses real TV broadcast graphics, and there’s even the F2 commentary team on-hand to introduce those portions of the game, for even more authenticity.
The game will be available earlier in the year than usual, which means more of the real-world season will be playing out while the game is populating your Xbox One’s disc drive. That’s great news for anyone who is wanting to try their hand at beating the real drivers’ qualifying times.
It’s looking like yet another superb sim, and well worth checking out if you already own the 2018 version. Let’s just hope the Senna vs Prost content turns out to be worthy of those legendary names.
Above There are new lighting effects for nighttime races, as well as evening skies, for sweeter eye candy.
right The classic McLaren MP4/5B, driven by Ayrton Senna, minus cigarette advertising, of course.