Another great year of Formula 1 racing is right around the corner. And with a new season also comes another entry in developer Codemasters’ F1 simulation series. Check out F1 2019, out now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
F1 2019 Remastered Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Developer: Codemasters Birmingham
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
A genuine racing simulation
One of the things that always impresses me about the F1 franchise is how well it translates the intrigue behind the sport. I’ll be honest, my usual style of racing game is typically more arcade than genuine simulation. Let’s just say I’m more the “Forza Horizon” than the “mainline Forza” kind of racing gamer.
That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy authentic racing sims. It’s just that for someone like me a more arcade style of game is typically more accessible. Arcade style racing games tend to let players like myself run a bit wild without worrying about the real life physics and their consequences that true racers are so adept at mastering.
This is where F1 2019, and its career mode in particular really excel. It does a great job of helping new players understand not only the subtle nuances of the sport, but also explaining why they are important. Then on top of this it presents them in a fun and engaging way.
F1 2019 guides players through the early stages of career mode with a well wrought narrative driving it. This adds an element of excitement to learning what might be otherwise mundane elements of F1, such as the importance of team dynamics or spending time on practice laps. It’s the perfect balance for engaging new players while also not boring series veterans.
The racing sim that plays like an RPG
Part of the reason that F1 2019 and its career mode succeed in making the game so addictive even to those who aren’t necessarily F1 fanatics are its RPG style elements. The narrative that forms the backbone of career mode is interactive, allowing players to make dialogue choices along the way (think something along the lines of a Bioware game).
These choices will not only shape your character and you interactions with others. They will also ultimately form your identity—be it as a team player, a cocky hotshot, and so on. Keep in mind that different racing teams have different goals and preferences though. Your attitude will actually inform how well you get along with your team’s management and teammates.
F1 2019 also features an RPG-like upgrade system. As you complete each stage of the season you will earn upgrade points. These come in the form of a currency that allows your racing team to research and develop new technology and upgrades for your car. Branching pathways allow you to choose which area to focus on, improving your car’s performance as your career progresses.
The drive to keep racing
For me, this is F1 2019’s big hook. I’m not a big F1 fan in real life, and I have no pre-existing attachment to the mechanics of the sport or to the real life racers it portrays. Nevertheless F1 2019 finds a way to keep me pressing forward.
The narrative does such a great job of setting up goals and rivals for you. Just like a real F1 driver, the game compels you to take on certain racers in a bid to gain notoriety, and rewards you when you succeed. It offers more incentive to reach the finish line on top of simply winning or losing.
The upgrade system also has me constantly working toward unlocking the next improvement for my car. Even if I don’t win a race, the better I perform through practice, time trials and competition, the quicker my car improves as well. This means I will be even better the next time around.
Since all of these gaming loops center around the different stages of a real F1 circuit, it ultimately makes them more engaging to players who may not otherwise have pure dedication to a true F1 simulation. Frankly, it has me wanting to learn more about the sport in general by cleverly immersing me in its world through mechanics outside racing that I’m already familiar with.
A better console means better graphics
F1 2019 is definitely a sharp looking game. That said, it’s difficult to say with any certainty what improvements have been made over last year’s entry in the franchise. While the game features all 21 circuits from the 2019 season, it doesn’t appear as though much has been done to supplement F1 2019‘s appearance overall.
Of course it’s somewhat understandable given the number of new innovations in other areas such as career mode. Much like other annual sports franchises, it’s difficult to reinvent the wheel year after year. Certain pillars of gameplay will naturally remain in place.
I do however note that F1 2019 appears to play better—at least in my experience—on the PlayStation 4 Pro console. I began my F1 2019 journey on the Pro, only to switch to a PlayStation 4 slim console midway through.
When playing on the Pro, my experience was flawless. However when using the slim console I encountered a significant amount of screen tearing during races. Of course it’s difficult to attribute this to the difference in consoles for certain, and there are always other factors in play. Nevertheless for me the Pro console is immune to the screen tearing that are otherwise prevalent in my sessions on the slim.
F1 2019 is a racing sim with RPG elements that welcomes new players and challenges veterans
F1 2019 is in a league of its own when it comes to authentic sports racing simulations. I can’t think of another title that so accurately represents a genuine racing circuit and the subtle nuances of its sport and league dynamics. On top of this F1 2019 does an amazing job of easing in new players with fun mechanics while still catering to its F1 superfans.
There is some repetition overlapping last year’s entry, something that’s difficult to overcome in annual sports franchises. Nevertheless F1 2019 still does enough to be the best of the franchise to date. I did experience some screen tearing while playing on the PlayStation 4 console however—which did not appear to manifest when playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
+ Engaging career mode
+ RPG style game mechanics
– Some screen tearing
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF F1 2019
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5