Rubbin’, Son, Is Racin’
HIGH The Formula 2 addition is both substantial and welcome
LOW The “Legends” DLC is a monumental disappointment
WTF A setting for tax evasion would make it more authentic
I’m a big fan of Formula 1 because I find it to be absolutely insane. The cars of today are probably more technologically advanced than the International Space Station, the series used to be run by a guy who liked to be spanked by women dressed up as Nazis, and one time a driver crashed his car, then immediately walked off the track, got onto his yacht, and proceeded to pound beers while the race was still going on. Sure, it’s also amazing racing with the best drivers on the planet, but all that other stuff is just so damn juicy.
Unfortunately I don’t think the people at Codemasters would have the F1 license for long if they focused on the sport’s more entertaining aspects, so they keep their eyes on the driving, which is probably a good move in the long run.
F1 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of Codemasters acquiring the license, and one of my worries with this release was that street date moved up from the normal September launch, so the team only had about a ten month turnaround between iterations. The game does feel a great deal like F1 2018 did, but that isn’t so bad considering it was probably the greatest F1 game ever created with astounding graphics, sound design, depth, and a wide variety of options that kept players intrigued for months. Codemasters didn’t reinvent the wheel with 2019, but the wheel they have is absolutely still good for a few thousand more miles.
For players who don’t know a ton about F1, it can be a tad overwhelming, as there is a lot to keep track of while racing at simulation levels. Tire management, using the drag reduction system at proper times, and the counter-intuitive notion of accelerating to create down-force while cornering can be tough for people who aren’t well-versed, and 2019 doesn’t do a spectacular job of explaining it. Fortunately, it offers a wide range of difficulties, so players can tailor it to the exact experience they want. From super arcadey to hardcore sim with a racing wheel and cockpit set up, F1 2019 has it covered.
F1 2019 does have one big addition in the form of integration with F1’s minor league system, Formula 2. The F2 mode isn’t simply a re-skin, as the cars all look and handle quite differently, the teams are all different, and it even has its own commentary duo.
The career mode starts the player in a series of F2 challenges to help familiarize it, while also introducing the two main rivals that pop up in the occasional cutscener. These two characters (a stereotypical methodical German and hotshot Brit) aren’t Shakespeare, but it’s a neat addition to spice up the mode. Players can also select to play an entire season of Formula 2 if they wish. Add to that a litany of challenges and an incredibly comprehensive multiplayer component, and there’s a lot to do and see here.
The thing I was most excited to try isn’t featured in the main game, but rather a bonus found in the $69.99 “Legends Edition” (the content can also be purchased à la carte for $13.99).
Codemasters has created a special challenge mode featuring two of the greatest F1 drivers who ever lived, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, which is a concept that would make any F1 fan salivate with anticipation. Luckily, the publisher sent us a special edition for review, and I’m glad they did because now I can to tell our readers not to buy it.
For those who don’t know, Senna Vs. Prost is possibly the greatest and most storied rivalry in the history of motorsports, if not the entirety of worldwide individual sports. Their feud spanned a decade, featuring seven world championships between them. As teammates in 1988, they competed in sixteen races, and won fifteen of them. Both national heroes in their home countries of Brasil and France respectively, these men were diametrically opposed in every aspect of life from attitude, style, philosophy, and cultural background. It’s a fascinating tale of friendship, betrayal, triumph, and — ultimately, tragedy. I’d say it’d make a killer movie, but two hours wouldn’t even scratch the surface. This relationship could have — no, it should have been the backbone for the most amazing story mode in the history of racing games.
Instead, for an extra $10 (or $14), players get eight challenge trials hidden deep within a submenu, done up with zero flair. No cool cutscenes explaining their history, no added commentary druing the challenges… nothing at all. The ability to drive and eventually acquire their signature cars is cool, but given how much Codemasters hyped this content pre-release, I can’t help but see this as a tremendously wasted opportunity.
While the Legends edition content remains a bitter disappointment and not worth investing in, the bad taste it leaves in one’s mouth isn’t enough to sour one of the best yearly sports franchises on the planet. F1 2019 is a fantastic representation of its sport, and while this year is more evolution than revolution, there’s enough here to keep fans coming back.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Codemasters. It is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 PRO with an HDR certified 4KTV. An estimated 20 hours of play were devoted to playing through the various singleplayer & multiplayer modes, and one season of the career mode was completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E For Everyone and features no descriptors. Parents of little gearheads can be 100% assured this game will be perfectly safe for kids, and the difficulty levels are incredibly variable, so anyone of any age can have fun with it.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: F1 2019 has the option for subtitles, but they are incredibly small and they’re not resizeable. Attempting to read them to get instructions from your pit while providing the necessary focus needed to succeed while driving the car itself could prove difficult.
Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are fully remappable. From the menu, players can save two different control schemes (i.e.- one for a controller, one for a wheel) and customize their controls however they like.
In search of a dramatic change of pace, he sold everything he had (including 950 videogames) and shipped off to Asia where he's taught English and lived in Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, and now China.
He still loves his games, priding himself in his varied taste and playing everything from Disgaea to Madden. After getting a taste of the glitz of Beijing last year working at a Chinese mobile game developer, Jarrod went back to teaching and currently works in Qitaihe, Heilongjiang provide where the weather is cold and the noodles are poppin'.
Jarrod used to write for sites like GamesRadar where he had the esteemed pleasure of reviewing Wii ports and PS Move launch games for peanuts. After a multi-year hiatus, he is happy to get back into reviews with GameCritics.
...He read the site as a kid, which should make Brad, Mike, and Daniel feel old as hell, considering he's almost 30.