First play: F1 2019 from Codemasters – initial review

F1 2019, Codemasters game review

It's that time of year again...wait...no...It's early for a Formula 1 game right? Well, not this time! 

Codemasters have been hard at work developing the latest instalment of the official F1 game, which they’ve managed to deliver a full two months earlier than usual. At Motorsport Week we were able to get our hands on an advance copy of their latest effort to give you our initial opinion…

Career Mode

For countless years F1 games have often followed the same structure; you create your own character and jump straight into the world of F1. But for the 2019 edition - there has been a significant shift which allows you to further immerse yourself into the experience. 

With the addition of the Formula 2 championship into the game, you can opt to begin your career in the junior series and complete a trio of challenges. You'll then go through the process of personalising your character and should you decide to take the route in F2, the option will appear to choose a team and even which driver academy you wish to join. Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and even McLaren are amongst the options.

Once you're set, you'll get launched into the season with all of the drivers from the 2018 F2 season bar two as you'll be joined by a pair of fictional characters, one of which will be your team-mate in the form of Lucas Weber and an antagonist by the name of Devon Butler, both of which you will get to experience cut scenes with and the circumstances of those scenes will depend on how you perform in the challenges set out before you. 

When you get the chance to make it into F1, you'll also be joined by Weber and Butler and continue to do battle with them in the top flight as they take over a spot in the respective teams you’ll be racing against.

This year, not only can you switch teams based on your performance, but other drivers can now switch between teams from season to season – so you might see the likes of Lewis Hamilton driving a Ferrari, or Sebastian Vettel returning to Red Bull.

The ability to simulate the practice sessions has been brought in so you can earn those coveted development points in order to continue bringing updates to the car over the season - should you feel you don't have the time to go through all of the programs in each of the practice sessions.

Previous F1 games have not felt this immersive, largely because until now the licence for the game did not allow any modifications via F1's owners. Now, Liberty Media has permitted these small tweaks, it's made for a much more inclusive and immersive experience for the player.

Graphics

While still using the same engine, Codemasters has continued to develop their designs within the game, using laser scanned tracks and greatly improved lighting upgrades for the night races. Whilst racing around the likes of Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi you can certainly see the effort which has been made behind the scenes to bring a more authentic experience as you race your heart out underneath the artificial lighting.

The liveries also stand out in both the night and day scenes, especially the customisable liveries which the game has also introduced. A specific set of unofficial paint and sponsor designs are now available to use whilst racing online and you can tune the colours to your liking.

The wet weather effects are where the game has made some real strides. As the precipitation falls ever harder; your view becomes ever more restricted, almost to the point where it's nigh on impossible to see in monsoon-like conditions. 

Gameplay

The experience of being able to take a racing car around the track is something we would all love to take part in some day, playing these games is the closest most of us will come!

Whilst also taking the time to improve on the gameplay from their previous efforts in a much shorter timeframe, Codemasters also has taken on Formula 2 and done so impeccably. It's a rewarding experience to nail the best lap you can in the final throes of Q3 but painful when you make a mistake by missing an apex or running wide and you lose valuable grid slots from even the most minuscule of errors.

Tackling the F2 series is also a whole new venture in itself when it comes to getting behind the wheel. You'll have to remember you won't be carrying the power, the aerodynamic performance nor the cornering speeds of an F1 car and drive accordingly which will be sure to catch out even the most experienced of players. 

Currently, only the teams and drivers from the 2018 F2 championship season are playable, but an update soon after the launch of the game will bring you the current 2019 season.

Conclusion

After mixed efforts in recent years with their efforts to bring motorsports highest class to the gaming community, Codemasters has worked hard to try and bring the most authentic experience to the most hardcore of sim racing fans as well as the casual gamer who wants to play as their favourite driver in their favourite team.

If playing racing games is for you and you enjoy Formula 1 - you won't be disappointed by this game, which is quite easily the best Codemasters has produced since it took over the rights in 2010.

Pre-order F1 2019 from Amazon: Anniversary Edition (PS4) | Anniversary Edition (Xbox One) | Anniversary Edition (PC)