"F1 2017" video game review: closer to wheel life Page 3


F1 2017 screenshot

F1 2017 screenshot

Enlarge Photo

Instead, “F1 2017” focuses presenting the speed like you might see on TV—not from behind the wheel. Only the near-chase view offers any hint of the massive g forces at work, and it’s hardly perceptible.

In the same way that the game focuses on the speed instead of everything else, don’t expect many variations in the races.

After three grands prix in our testing, no safety car was loosed at Australia, Bahrain, or China—not even a virtual safety car. (Any F1 fan will say that the rate of attrition in Australia is usually 25 percent or higher—a safety car is almost a certainty at that race.)

Tire degradation was minimal, and despite warnings that our engines were nearing their effective ends, we found no loss of power.

That’s good if you’re playing the game to race. Not so good if you’re playing a sim to experience every crease in the tires.

It’s largely the same race experience as previous years, and although the AI can be dialed in to savagely attack your car at every opportunity, we had no problem on medium difficulty opening up a minute or more on our competition after 15 laps. In China. In a Red Bull racer. (None of that should make any sense.)

Newcomers to the series will likely be enamored with the near-constant 60 fps speed of the game, and the beauty of tracks like Azerbaijan and Mexico. Seasoned racers may grow tired quickly of more of the same, in the same views.

 

F1 2017 screenshot

F1 2017 screenshot

Enlarge Photo

The ugly

Like prior years, the F1 game isn’t without some quirks: fixable or not.

Our tester, which arrived early with a Day 0 patch, had small issues such as a driver dropping completely out of a car during a victory animation sequence, or missing audio.

The game’s commentators, David Croft and Anthony Davidson, don’t offer much by way of insight. And the game’s voice recognition system hears ghosts. Or itself. But it’s certainly not listening to me.

The expanded upgrade system is a great addition to the game, when it works. We spent all of our race warchests on three specific upgrades, only to have two fail on delivery. No refund of points, no explanation, just try again. Batting .333 may work for some games, but in "F1 2017" that kind of failure rate is downright annoying.

Our biggest headaches came not with bugs, but rather the game’s AI. Set to medium, racers unpredictably followed blue flags—or not at all. Set to harder modes including expert or legendary, other racers vigorously hunt and chase like mall cops in go karts.

Collision physics aren’t entirely realistic either—it’s bumper cars until it tacos a front tire. Small damage is hardly noticeable, but without a wing the race car tracks like a drunk uncle.

The F1 series has undoubtedly come a long way, into the current console generation, since its debut in 2015. Unfortunately for devoted fans like yours truly, it hasn’t gone much further than that.

Codemasters provided an early copy of "F1 2017" to Internet Brands Automotive for review purposes.


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