Small tutorial videos help inculcate some of the game’s newest features: added practice programs, a new start sequence, or tire management.
The lost step of earning a team through training is good and bad. For experienced players, few things were more annoying than waiting for the game to load, braking after a straightaway in 15 seconds, and waiting longer for the next task. It also does away with the merit-based team selection system that placed drivers in backmarkers or top-tier teams based on performance. Career mode drivers can opt for Ferrari or Mercedes-AMG at the outset—no working your way up the ranks, pal.
Like last year, a fairly thin player progression system starts by introducing you to your agent, your team, and the various locales from which to look at the same laptop screen: hospitality, truck, office.
Regardless of location, the player’s laptop becomes a gateway for various race or research and development tasks, including a vastly expanded upgrade system with a spider web of engine, chassis, reliability, or aerodynamic upgrades.
It’s here that the career improvements are apparent. Through task completions in practice, qualifying, and racing, players get tangible upgrades—kind of. More on that later.
Moving into the race weekend, drivers are greeted with the same menu system as before: car setup, race information including timing, and the deed itself.
Codemasters added more development programs to make practice more useful this year, including a fuel management program and race strategy program to the usual lineup of tire management, qualifying pace, track acclimatization, and overall goals. The additions help make practice sessions useful; many development points can be scored by successfully completing the tasks. Unfortunately, like the fuel management program, the tasks can become rote and largely unhelpful. Fuel management nearly becomes a moot point by specifying more gas in the tank before the actual race.
Once you’re in the car, that’s a different story.
F1 2017 screenshotEnlarge Photo
Behind the wheel, “F1 2017” will be nearly identical for annual fans of the series. For better or worse, the presentation hasn’t changed from prior years, save a frame-rate boost or HDR color tricks for enhanced gaming systems. (We tested the game on a PS4 Pro, where it understandably ran like a champ.)
Unlike other race sims, “F1 2017” doesn’t attempt to convey the sport’s insane speeds from any presentation angle. If you’re expecting the motion blur and gradual loss of peripheral vision at speed that, say, “Project Cars” offers from its helmet view, “F1 2017” will disappoint. If you’re expecting a rich aural experience that “Gran Turismo Sport” has teased us with, find some good headphones?