Both basketball and hockey season are behind us and now we look forward to the summer and Formula One. I’m an avid listener of the Bill Burr podcast every Monday he’d break down the race for a casual fan of F1. As I listen to this podcast from week to week my interest in F1 grew. Why does Lewis Hamilton win so much? How has Mercedes won every freaking race so far this season? More importantly, do simulation F1 video games hold up to their real life counterparts?
Upon launching the game the first thing you’ll notice is just how awesome this game looks. This isn’t surprising as most Codemasters racing games have a high quality look to them. The cars have a tremendous amount of detail and so does the track. I wouldn’t expect anything less from an end-of-generation racing title. While on the topic of presentation the game feels like an F1 broadcast. The race commentators don’t repeat lines that often. Every track looks unique and the desert track in Bahrain has this cool haze that comes in at night. One negative is that the human character models look soulless and stick out like a sore thumb compared to everything else.
Drive Your Own Career
The biggest change to F1 2019 is the addition of the F2 feeder series. While currently F2 is only majorly featured in career mode there will be a patch later down the road that will allow you to play the entire 2019 F2 season. Speaking of career mode this is where the game really shines. They’ve added a bit of story similar to the FIFA series, but feels more like NBA 2K. You start with customizing your driver and being dropped into the F2 series to start. You and your teammate, Lukas Weber, are trying to topple your rival Devon Butler. Devon is arrogant and Lukas is naive. It’s no Days of Thunder, but I was sad to see the cut-scenes and driver interaction disappear once I was promoted to F1.
While in career mode you’ll be doing these practice sessions which earn you points to improve your car. Think of this like an RPG skill tree that your team can research to improve your car’s speed, handling, and braking. Unfortunately, you don’t get the effect of these upgrades right away as it takes a few weeks to research and they have a possibility of failing. Failure means you’ll have to research the upgrade again, but for a lower price.
Other modes in the game include Time Trials, Championship, and Grand Prix. These modes test your skills and knowledge of the track against AI drivers. In Time Trial you’ll be racing against an AI ghost to set the fastest lap on a track of your choosing. If you purchase the Legendary Edition of F1 2019, the Championship mode lets you relive the legendary rivalry of Senna versus Prost. Completing this will unlock two legendary F1 cars. Lastly, the Grand Prix mode allows you to customize a season of F1 letting you decide what tracks to race and their order.
Take You For A Ride
My favorite thing about F1 2019 is how it feels. The cars have a sense of speed not matched in any other sim racing games. There’s a level of detail you can tune your carto in order to gain slight advantages over the competition. You have to actually follow the rules, especially compared to other video games that claim to be realistic. Races are long and not easy, even on the default difficulty. They take a level of concentration I thought I had lost and endurance that maybe I never had. Before the actual race you’ll have practice races, a qualifying race, and then the big race, which gives you plenty of time to learn the track.
Once you’ve dominated your rivals in career mode you can take your talents online. I joined a league called the “SquirrelLickers” which was a five race league. Each race will take place on Tuesday, but can vote to postpone the event. I look forward to getting to know my new league rivals in the weeks to come.
I’ve decided that F1 2019 is one of my favorite racing games of this generation. It scratched an itch that I didn’t know needed to be scratched. The in-game driving experience is so good that I end up looking past the more shallow parts of the game. The career is one of the most interesting and in depth modes I’ve encountered. The inclusion of classic cars and the F2 cars give you a variety that breaks up a typical career mode. It disappoints me that the Senna vs Prost challenge is locked behind a more expensive version of the game. The customization options for your driver and car are lacking and the cool stuff is locked behind microtransactions. The load times entering and leaving a race are a bit long even on a PS4 Pro.
With all that being said the dense career mode, weekly online events, and the upcoming inclusion of the 2019 F2 season will have me coming back to this game long after the official F1 season is over.
F1 2019 review code provided by publisher. Version 1.03 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.