F1 2019 is shaping up to be another beautiful racing game in a generation seemingly swamped with racers. So what sets F1 apart from the likes of Forza or the upcoming Grid? Not a whole lot. I had a chance to sit down in a racing control simulator to find out what’s under the hood of the new F1 2019 and see if the annual series still has what it takes to compete in this growingly crowded genre.
To my surprise, Codemasters have finally listened to its fans’ feedback and complains. F1 2019 will finally feature Formula 2 cars and races which should make the game beefier than it already is. For those who are unaware, F2 cars are usually slower than their F1 counterparts, have less power and aren’t as flashy.
Your placing in the F2 series will determine your positioning when you move up to F1 later on. Of course this isn’t a game for the faint of heart, so you’ll want to perform relatively well if you want to have a better spot when being placed in the F1 series.
When starting up my E3 demo, the first thing I noticed, and what I think most everyone will notice is the beauty of being behind the wheel of this magnificent race car I found myself sitting in. Talking about the game itself, F1 2019 looks same as F1 2018. I didn’t notice any drastic graphical changes or modifications to the looks of the cars, tracks, or environments. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. F1 2018 was a gorgeous racer that still looks wonderful. F1 2019 looks just as stellar, but to really notice any major improvements is going to be a difficult job even for the best eyes. Let’s face it, we’re at the end of this console generation. It’s going to be hard to siphon out what few drops are still left in the bottoms of these game engines to really make anything appear better than they already do. The backdrops of the realistic environments, the glares and reflections off of the cars is still a sign of artistry from the developers.
From a gameplay perspective, I can say that F1 feels just as fresh as ever before. For some players, F1 cars are overly maneuverable due to their slender frames and light weight designs. However in F1 2019, the handling of these cars is superb and the traction feels incredible stable. You can feel the give and pull of the asphalt below your wheels as you make that sharp turn, or cut ahead of another driver in the straightaway. There’s almost a surreal variation of how I’d imagine real life driving inside an F1 racer would feel, and it matched up to my ideals almost instinctively.
What improvements have been made over the driving this year as opposed to 2018 is, again, another tough call. Without being assisted or being told what new features are built into each car, the average player likely wouldn’t be able to feel a whole lot that’s changed. This is specially harder if you are coming off from F1 2018 since the driving there was exceptional.
While driving on course, I was following along the augmented guidelines that laid over the track, minding my own business. I was slowing when the guides turned red at each sharp turn, accelerating when they went from red to yellow to green. Eventually I found myself near the front of the pack. That was until I began to violently spin around and veer into the dirt field against a fence just outside the track. Turns out, an AI racer wasn’t happy with my position and I was blocking his path to victory. He purposely rear-ended me in a successful attempt at taking my spot near the front. It’s a strategy that feels a bit dirty, but it happens in real life.
One of the big features F1 2019 touts over other games in the genre is its dramatized story mode. No, I’m not just talking about racing from track to track and trying to become the best racer. I’m talking drama off the track. Similar to last year, F1 2019 features a story mode that lets you have a chance to show the racing world what type of person you are. The E3 demo had me interviewed by a news reporter to try and get a feel of what my attitude was going into or coming from a race. You have a few options of dialog to choose from, and each selection reflects who your character is in the game. You can answer in a few different ways that will either make you look like a good sportsman, or a poor sportsman. These answers will also determine who would like to sponsor you and who thinks you’re worth it to represent them.
I wasn’t able to get into this feature for more than a few minutes, but it looked and felt refreshing to see something new being added into the racing genre. Besides, it gives some great moments to see character designs outside of your own and how much dedication these developers put into making F1 2019 the best looking game it could be.
Overall, F1 2019 is shaping up to be another great racer, and we can’t wait to go hands on with it later this month.