Developer Codemasters is back with the tenth installment in its long-running racing series. Once again they have crafted one of the most realistic simulation experiences in the racing genre. F1 2018 Headline Edition is available now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Codemasters Birmingham
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
A career in racing
I get to play a lot of racing games, from the arcade-style free-for-all of a series like The Crew to more realistic simulations such as the mainline Forza games. These games all have some form or another of a “career” mode (very good ones in fact), and are excellent at what they set out to do.
That said, if you are looking for a racing simulation that actually simulates a genuine “career” in racing, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than F1 2018 Headline Edition. This game isn’t just about authentic racing action. It’s about developing your car, working with a team, and generally managing a career one the Formula One circuit.
Choosing a team
If you do elect to go for the full career mode payoff, you’ll begin by selecting a team to compete with. Each team will have different goals and expectations. Teams have advantages (and associated expectations) that tend to line up with real-world circumstances.
In choosing to sign with Ferrari myself, I may have been in a bit over my head as an “amateur” F1 racer. I admit it, I drew myself in with flashy thoughts of racing for a big name I knew like Ferrari. Ferrari is the best! A household name in racing as well as luxury! Why wouldn’t I join them?
And it’s true, team Ferrari is a big deal—with quality cars at your disposal from the start. But those great cars come with expectations for winning, a task that I may not have been up to on my first F1 experience. A novice like me would do better to join an ambitious team with room to grow, in tandem with my own growth as a driver.
Building a better car
Once you sign a contract with your racing team of choice, the road to fame and glory begins. You’re entire career will be based on earning upgrade points that can be used in research and development. The result is a car that improves along with your success, ultimately determining what you are capable of achieving during your career lifetime.
Earning upgrade points isn’t tied solely to performance on the track—although that’s certainly a big part of it. You’ll also have to contend with other aspects of a racer’s career from season to season.
Your interaction with the media will have a significant impact on your career—and subsequently your ability to generate upgrade points as well. Say the right thing and keep your team happy, along with the flow of quality development on your car. Say the wrong thing and risk hurting morale—and subsequently increase your chances of mechanical failure.
A better overall performance leads to even more opportunities in the future. Negotiating a more lucrative contract as time passes will open even more doors for generating upgrade points and developing a car that can send you on the path to greatness.
Gorgeous cars and tracks
Adding to the realism of managing your own racing career path is the environments you’ll be performing in themselves. The view from the cockpit is spectacular, and really adds to the immersion of the game. The detailed recreation of each F1 car creates a level of authenticity that is easy to become lost in.
The tracks themselves are a thing of beauty as well. The high level resolution makes the difference in texture from asphalt to turf palpable and satisfying. The lighting involved in creating different weather patterns as well as time of day truly shine.
F1 2018 Headline Edition comes with over 20 full-length tracks, so there is plenty of racing action to be had. These aesthetically pleasing environments create an exciting and invigorating recreation of genuine F1 action.
Better get used to it
If there is any significant flaw in F1 2018 Headline Edition it may be that it leans to heavily into realism for its own good, without taking non-hardcore F1 racing fans into account. F1 racing certainly has its own style and strategy, which the game captures perfectly, but there is little in the way of introducing these aspects anyone who isn’t an F1 superfan.
I think F1 2018 Headline Edition is still a fun game for any fan of racing, but more could have been done to bring outsiders into the fold. I certainly picked things up as I played the game, but it still fell a little bit more “inside F1” than need be.
If you’re in the mood to take on some friends or the public at large, F1 2018 Headline Edition also features a robust online component. You can compete in ranked or unranked public matches, or create a private lobby for just you and your friends. The online servers were stable when I tested this component, and finding a match was fairly easy.
I would just recommend sticking to “ranked” matches for anything resembling a realistic experience. F1 2018 Headline Edition is a bonafide racing simulation, and braking is a must. While most racers in a ranked match seem to take things seriously, there is no real deterrent for poor behaviour in unranked matches. They can devolve into a circus rather quickly.
F1 2018 Headline Edition is a fun racing sim with an engaging and authentic career mode. It’s a pleasure to manage all aspects of an up-and-coming F1 racer in their bid to climb the ranks and achieve greatness in the world of Formula One. The graphics are excellent and it’s easy to become immersed in the 20+ tracks offered by the game.
There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve for those not familiar with the subtle nuances of F1, but the overall gameplay is satisfying and should keep most players hooked long enough to hone their skills.
+ Multi-faceted career mode
+ Beautiful graphics on over 20 complete tracks
+ Thoughtful and engaging upgrade system
– Little in the way of tutorial or inclusiveness to those unfamiliar with F1 racing
– Watch out for free-for-all chaos in unranked online play.
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5 (80%)
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