I would like to kick things off by saying that F1 is my favourite sport and every year I look forward to the F1 video game. So this year’s game is no exception, my hands were itching to get straight into the action.
There are very few sport video games that have an in-depth career mode like the one you find in F1 games. This time around Codemasters have give us a career mode that’s basically the centre of the game. It all kicks off by creating your character, picking a team, choosing a teammate and you are set to go. F1 2018 now has a central hub where you can structure your F1 career from. The Workstation acts as the games main menu in the career mode. This is where you can track your progress in the game. This year’s instalment also sees a really cool addition added to the game that I wasn’t expecting. If you watch F1 here in South Africa on SuperSport we get our coverage from Sky Sports F1. If there’s one thing the guys at Sky Sports F1 do best is ask questions.
F1 2018 has introduced pressured press interviews that throw questions at you after each race or practice session. If you’ve set the fastest time during a practice session a journalist will walk up to you and ask about the session. Your response will be timed and how you respond affects your relationship with the team. You get to see the results of your actions later on in the game, if you give responses that acknowledge the great work the team has done to give you a great car, you’ll be rewarded with great upgrades during the season. The same applies if you’ve dreamed of being a F1 bad boy, your egotistical responses will see your relationship with your team break down and find yourself without a job.
This leads me to my next point about this game, your behaviour and performance not only affects your relationship with your current team but how the rest of the paddock sees you. Personally I think this is great especially when it comes to negotiating your contract with your current team. I won three of the first four races of the season and at the end of the four race weekends it was time to renegotiate my contract. This gave me the option of choosing whether I want to be the number one driver and earn extra research points when I complete the objectives the team have set out for me.
The trick is to never undervalue your driver or over sell them, seeing that it’s a negotiation you have to strike a deal that will make both parties happy. The cool thing about F1 2018 is that other teams are waiting on the sidelines to get their hand on your signature provided that you are worth getting. It’s a really cool new edition to the game that I find fun, just like I explained, if your current team doesn’t value your driver, you can simply leave the team. It’s also a great way to learn the insights that go into negotiating a F1 contract, as a fan of the sport I am impressed by this feature.
The F1 2018 Career mode has a lot of depth to it and is also time consuming. I’m not a pro when it comes to racing games, I can’t play a racing game without using the adaptive racing line. As I spend more time with F1 2018 I hope I can get to a point where I see the racing line without using the on-screen one. My point here is that each circuit in the F1 calendar handles differently then the next one. So before jumping into a race one needs to go through a number of practice programmes that will help you get familiar with the track and how the car handles around it. The Track Acclimatisation programme teaches you how to perfectly attack a track. With Jeff your trusty engineer beside you, you learn where you need to improve and where you need to go faster.
This is a great way of getting to grips with each track, I personally ran this programme at the beginning of each race weekend so that I don’t struggle with finding my way around a circuit. If you watch F1 religiously you would have heard phrases like “Fuel Saving” and “Tyre Management”, getting these two things right is the difference between winning a race and losing it with a couple of laps left. These two aspects of F1 also form a huge part of the different practice programmes you need to run ahead of qualifying and the main race. It’s always encouraging to hear Jeff tell you where you can do better, you have no idea how much he’s words encouraged me to do better. Going back to my opening line, the career mode is quite lengthy but the practice runs are honestly what you need to run in order to come out on top during a race weekend.
Visually F1 2018 doesn’t disappoint, apart from the obvious changes to this year’s cars, the game does come with a number of visual updates that try to make it a total F1 experience. As you race you can spot the heat coming from the exhaust of the car running in front of you. I also noticed that when I ran wide of the racing line I picked up pieces of disregarded rubber. Unlike in the real world, this had no affect on my performance. The only time where the track conditions affect your performance is when it’s a wet track.
Visibility is very poor when it rains especially when driving behind a car that’s kicking up sprays of water. As the rain eases up, the track also dries up. Your trusty engineer will send you a message to inform you that an alternative tyre strategy is available, to the point where you go from full wet tires, to full dry tires in a matter of minutes.
It’s the little things that shine through in the game, whether it’s a helicopter hovering in the sky or seeing leaves fall from trees while racing at the Canadian Grand Prix. The visuals for this year’s F1 game are more than just a coat of new paint. From sparks flying when the cars hit a bump on the track, seeing the clouds develop in the far distant and seeing the light fade away. The guys at Codemasters have out done themselves.
If there’s one thing that stands out about F1 2018 is the games AI. I’ve stated quite a number of times how great my engineer Jeff pointed out what I need to improve on during a race or practice sessions. It’s the same system that we see being introduced to the game’s online races. The one thing most online players complained about was racing against players that either too skilled or are noobs. F1 2018’s Super License system was introduced this year to eliminate hardcore F1 players from competing with noobs (noobs are newcomers to any game) by placing users with the same skill set in the same category. Which left the likes of me in the same category as players who enjoy to turn an online race into bumper cars. As you get better you get thrown into a new class and I appreciate this, I’m happy that your time on the track gets rewarded in this manner.
In all honestly I spent most of my time playing the career mode, but do you blame me. It’s so lengthy and I used the resource points I gathered to purchase updates for the car. Research & Development plays a huge part of F1 and it’s important to keep adding new updates to the car so that it performs throughout the season.
There’s no doubt that Codemasters have given us a video game that not only looks stunning but also handles really well. I’ve been playing the F1 video game series since 2016 and I don’t ever remember struggling with the games handling. I used my PS4’s dualshock controller to navigate my way around F1 2018. The controller vibrants whenever you run across a curve, giving you the sensation that you are in the car. It’s a great game both visually and in the controls department.
F1 2018 is a great game if you’re a huge F1 fan, it has a tedious learning curve if you are not a fan of the sport. The jargon alone will put you off the game but this will give die hard F1 fans a hard-on and you will fall in love with the sport even more. It gets a solid 9/10.
I was provided a review copy of F1 2018 and played the game on PlayStation 4.