Codemasters churn out yet another instalment in its line of annual F1 racing simulator games. F1 2018 has arrived, but does it improve on its predecessor in any way?

I’m glad to say that it probably does in many ways, but unfortunately most of these improvements would go over the heads of many layman gamers who aren’t hardcore fans of Formula One or racing simulators.

Hardcore Racers Need Only Apply

Let’s clear this out of the way first. There’s a major difference between racing simulators and racing games. The former specifically targets racing fans who are well-versed in all the details and mechanics of the sport involved, while the latter is for casual gamers who are just looking to enjoy the thrill of driving virtual cars without worrying about burning out their tires and having to change them in the middle of a fast and furious race.

I confess that I’m part of the latter and it’s clear that I’m not part of the game’s intended demographic of players, seeing as F1 2018 is primarily a racing simulator. As such, I reviewed this game from the perspective of a non-racing fan, as well as a gamer who attempted to play this game as if it is a racing game instead of a racing simulator.

Just like F1 2017, which I had the pleasure of reviewing last year, I had to experience F1 2018 with full assists during gameplay. There’s a bunch of settings, and I had no choice but to choose the lowest, which is labelled as “Beginner.” At that setting, the game automatically activated the brakes for me while driving, and it takes a lot of control from me as the player.

The problem is that only racing fans would have the slightest idea of what Traction Control, or any of the other buzzwords, mean. As someone who is used to playing more arcadey racing games like the Need for Speed or Burnout franchises, it is extremely difficult for me to get used to the game’s steep learning curve.

F1 2018 Screenshot 1

Improved Career Mode With RPG Elements

Despite the game’s inaccessibility for casual gamers, I’m sure that F1 racing fans would appreciate the authenticity that F1 2018 is striving for. Immersing themselves in the position of a professional F1 driver has never been this accurate to the real thing. For instance, I played the Career mode, which boasts of new features like a new contract system and team morale which acts as a big factor in your budding career as an F1 driver.

I chose Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (Malaysia represent!) as my brand and my teammate was none other than Lewis Hamilton. Needless to say, I embarrassed myself during the early practice runs, where Hamilton achieved best laps while I was dead last.

One thing I did like in F1 2018‘s Career mode was influencing team morale and renegotiating my contract. Post-race interviews played like the real thing, as I was bombarded with questions from the media in press conferences. My answers could either affect my R&D team positively or negatively, and I enjoy having a certain degree of choice in any game I play. I could actually bad-mouth my team and blame them for “problems” with my car (although it was actually due to my atrocious driving skills).

It’s fun that I was given a choice to do so, which sorts of feel like an RPG element tacked into a racing game. But considering that it’s a game, no player would purposely sabotage their own car like that, which seems counter-productive.

F1 2018 Screenshot 3

Days of Thunder

One aspect that Codemasters have certainly outdone themselves in is the graphics in F1 2018. Dynamic weather options work extremely well in this game, just like they did in F1 2017 last year. Playing at different times of day will yield unique shadow and lighting effects. The cars in the game look like they’re painstakingly rendered, while the backgrounds often feel like an afterthought, considering how dull they are.

For my fellow Malaysians, I have some grave news indeed. I already pointed out last year that F1 2017 would be the last time that an F1 game will feature our prized Sepang International Circuit. The aforementioned circuit has been removed in F1 2018 since the Malaysian Grand Prix 2017 was to be our last such event, and that from then on the Sepang International Circuit will no longer hold Formula One races.

Still, we can be proud of the fact that our nation was historically the second Asian country after Japan to ever host a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

F1 2018 Screenshot 2

As a conclusion, playing the game like a normal racing game proved to be an unsatisfying endeavour. F1 2018 is clearly geared towards the most dedicated F1 and racing simulator fans, leaving casual racing game fans like me struggling to understand the game’s mechanics. At the very least, Codemasters has certainly delivered another authentic F1 racing game with an improved Career mode and great graphics.

Pros

  • Stunning graphics and visual quality
  • Improved Career mode with welcome RPG elements
  • Authentic F1 experience for hardcore fans

Cons

  • The steep learning curve might prove inaccessible for casual racing game fans
  • Feels like an expansion of F1 2017

Final Rating: 70/100

F1 2018 was released for the PS4, Xbox One, PC, and iOS on August 24, 2018. An Android version of the game will also be available soon, although an official release date has yet to be announced.


Reviewed on the PlayStation 4 Pro and review code courtesy of Ubisoft (Singapore).

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