Review – F1 2018
We have been truly spoilt in yearly offerings from the team at Codemasters of the F1 titles, each year brings something different while the core gameplay has never diminished at any point. F1 2018 straight from the word go has you drawn into the complexities of racing while showcasing visuals that are some of the best around in any game, while the eSports scene has took off and expanded with the official teams sponsoring the pro gamers the F1 franchise is as healthy as it has ever been and with this year’s title will only cement the future for many more years.
For most gamers the core replay value will be in the Career mode and the improvements are noticeable from the get go. Much like last year you have a PR manager who looks after your reputation with the media and the team and have an engineer who will guide you in the basics of the car set up and development within the team, the difference this year is the media interviews which on the face of it may seem familiar as this was introduced early on in the series but thee interviews have a big part to play in your career in F1. When you start your career you get to pick a team to race for, each one will have a Sportsmanship or Showmanship preference and each time a media interview comes up there are 4 choices in response and will be crucial in either securing your standings with the current team or to impress one of the other teams enough to where they would consider offering you a contract with them. Some of the responses can help boost the development of your current car, I found a lot of my responses boosted the engine department and made it easier to upgrade the parts.
The Research and Development aspect of the career mode takes a ramp up and is a welcome change, throughout the season you earn R and D points by meeting team objectives, beating rivals and by winning races. You can spend points on different parts of the car development, some parts will carry over to next year but the difference this time is that there are rule changes that will impact for the following year, focus purely on this year and you may well win the championship but fall victim to losing out to important changes and fall straight down the pecking order. I found it best to take a balanced approach and concentrate on the chassis for the following year and stay mid table, the next season I was towards the front qualifying in the top 6 and getting podium finishes. A real joy to do!
What impressed me with the last couple of titles is the rivalries throughout the season, always measuring against your team mate is standard practise but F1 2018 takes this a bit further. you can now select any driver in addition to your team mate to compare your career with, this has benefits as it will also spark interest from the higher teams.
All this is great in F1 2018 but what about the gameplay? Quite simply this years game handles and plays so much better than last years offering. This is mostly down to the handling of the cars, there has been much improvement in the way the car drives around the track with the track mechanics punishing you for going over the kerbs which put a huge smile on my face the first time I ventured slightly wide to get into the corner faster. Immediately my front end twitched and lost control snapping the oversteer to attempt to stay on track, this is the same all the way through on any track, mastering the layout of the circuit is key to get the most out of the car and the tyres.
Speaking of the tyres it has always been a concern from the moment Pirelli introduced all of the different compounds over the years that the F1 titles have not matched the speed, grip of the real life counterparts, this year is completely different and the grip levels and speed give the complete experience. Blasting round Baku on the soft tyre you might be tempted to think that even when you are pushing to the maximum that this is the absolute best time to then see that you are 2 seconds of the delta of the front car on the Ultrasoft, you can immediately tell the difference when switching to the quickest tyre although in this years game the focus is on tyre management which can be checked using the on screen display. Knowing when to push and save the tyres can win or lose a race or stint in a heartbeat! Do you push hard in the first few laps and take the best out of them to get a few seconds head start of the driver behind? Or tak a conservative approach and push towards the end of the stint to get a undercut in the pit stop. I often just go flat out in a race and when I was racing in Canada my right front tyre on the back straight exploded and then lost all of the hard work done for 14 laps.
In addition, there is the introduction of the Energy Recovery System or for short ERS. This is the release of all battery power that is saved by braking in corners and not pushing too hard. There are strategy elements to releasing the battery power of course, you can go full pelt and use the highest mode and be quicker for a while but run the risk of the engine breaking down and be vulnerable to attack from the other drivers who will be saving their usage in the early parts of the race. I found using the ERS sparingly in the early parts of a race and then when it’s time to push close to the pit stops maxing it out and gaining a undercut to be the best strategy. All these elements in gameplay provide a real simulation feel to F1 2018 and rivalling Project Cars In being the most immersive and technical racer. Getting the starts right is key and the AI are more blood thirsty than ever and will battle really hard to get past and to stay ahead.
How can we forget the Halo? F1 has been looking for a way to protect drivers over the years and with the sad death of Jules Bianchi from injuries sustained at the Japanese GP a few years ago the best solution was the Halo device. In the game this can be minimised if you want the full view in the cockpit cam but can be used in full for the true experience.
All of the tracks of the 2018 Calendar are included with the new revamped Paul Ricard circuit and the German Grand Prix Hockenheim. Each track looks impressive and more so with the HDR 4k elements, especially with the change of weather conditions. Extra DRS zones are added to the game this year to match the real life experience, with a future patch there will be more added when future races decide on the extra zones.
One part of the last years F1 title I really enjoyed was the inclusion of the classic cars and to be able to race a season in one or taking part in season events. This year is the same but adds a few more to the mix. For those that remember the Brawn GP team which won the drivers championship with Jenson Button and the team one to match. This team became the Mercedes team we now come to love and hate, the second car is the Williams 2003 FW25 driven by Ralf Schumacher and Montoya. A great experience to drive these beasts and turn back the hands of time, adding longevity to an already jam packed game.
F1 2018 is the Pinnacle of the F1 series to date! Immersive, impressive and unbeatable! Huge changes to the handling, track dynamics and the career mode you have to wonder what next the team at Codemasters can do to improve this year’s effort. A must buy for any F1 enthusiast.