REVIEW – This year, Codemasters decided not to launch the annual Formula-1 game adaptation on the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Instead, they pulled it two months forward to to the Austrian Grand Prix weekend. All while expanding F1 2019 in comparison to the previous titles.
This time, I got the Steam key on the 20th for F1 2019, in the afternoon, and I didn’t have to worry much about the review embargo, as the pre-load for the game started on Friday afternoon, a few hours after it ended. (This embargo possibly makes sense for consoles, but for PC, not really.) I’ll say in advance that it’s going to be a slightly different review from the usual…
F1 2019 immediately starts off with the character creation. Name, head, helmet, racing number, nickname, etc. It’s going to be visible in the online profile as well, and I’ll mention this first – due to several factors that makes me impossible to enjoy F1 2019‘s this aspect – that you’ll have a license that describes how well you drive, how fair your driving style is, and you’ll level your license up, as this is the game’s method to line you up with other drivers with similar skills. Now, for me, when the game is only available for YouTube gamers who play simulators a lot, guess how good it goes. Aside from this, there’s also eSport (which, similarly to MotoGP 19, isn’t active yet), and a noticeable league emphasis to make you play in a team. Also, F1 2019 concentrates on constant gaming, but it shouldn’t have a peer-to-peer system, as the net code suffers from it. In this aspect, the game doesn’t seem to work as expected. It’s hard to judge BEFORE the game is even out, but the ghosting cars, the lag, and the drivers that screw the race up for other participants will probably be a problem once again. Anyway, let’s just say it didn’t change much. A welcome addition is that you’ll have a unique multiplayer car, and you can change it livery – I like it, as it won’t limit you that much.
Less buttons, more?
This less/more aspect can be somewhat applied to the career mode, which I spent most of my time on (and I likely will continue to do so until I max my car out, lol), as in some aspects, it did not change, but in others, it significantly did. Let’s start with THE ADDITION OF FORMULA-2! An F2 championship and a story mode? Wow. However, the issue is that there’s the „I’m friendly, but initially, I’m angry” type of driver (Lukas Weber), and the other „my ego is the size of the Equator and I cannot admit fault when I broke your front wing but I’m right and not you” (Devon Butler – what kind of name is this?), which absolutely feels like something I have seen fifteen years ago in TOCA Race Driver 2.
As that was also a Codemasters game, the comparison is fair. So there will be cutscenes, but the F2 career start is really undercooked. You’ll get only three races. In the first one – Catalunya -, you’ll have a turbo issue, in the second one – Red Bull Ring -, Butler will knock your front wing off, pushing you down the order, while he also gets penalized, making your goal to pass him, and in the third one, wow, you get the oh so epic final in Abu Dhabi where you have to beat Butler to get the title.
Yeah, kindly, go to hell: I pushed Butler off the track down to plum last, and I caught up despite having a damaged front wing, and still got to win with a three-second penalty for the Butler incident. He finished dead last. (I intentionally wanted to see this after TOCA Race Driver 2 – in that game, the grand showdown has his car as invincible. No thanks, I’m not interested in such garbage.) That’s bad. I understand the game has somewhat of a story, but this F2 introduction is weak. Not to mention that CURRENTLY (and, in fact, until „later in the year”!), the F2 2019 season is not available! You only get the 2018 season. What on Earth was Codemasters doing then? They say it’s a new game, and yet, they couldn’t include the season in time?!
You gotta be either blind or stupid…
Then you’ll end up in F1, and based on your performance, you can choose from many teams (I think you can go to any of them…). I, as always, picked the weakest team, which is Williams once again. However, as a surprising addition, Weber and Buttler… I mean Butler also joined F1! In my case, Weber went to Sauber Alfa Romeo to partner Kimi Räikkönen, and Butler joined Toro Rosso to join Alex Albon. I’ll only say that after nine races (because if you actually want to also UPGRADE your car, then you should spend time on the three free practices as well to complete the six tests that have been directly lifted over from 2018 for more resource points), I have not seen F1 races with them. In F2, I got one after each race ended.
This is where F1 2019 starts to go into 2018, and I also noticed that the Williams is such a bad car that I had to brake earlier to actually take the turns properly. (In the rain, it was even worse.) Now I could just simply copy and paste what I wrote last year, and you might see a link here to what I said a year ago but I’ll just run over the things you need to know instead, in bullet points basically. You’ll still have two rivals, one of them will be your team-mate, and you can pick the other one. Defeating them (by having a better qualifying result, penalty-free in qualify, and in the race, race position, podium place, fastest lap, penalty-free and finishing the race matters) gains you more reputation points, which could push you ahead on the rookie-veteran bar if you win or backwards if you lose. (You also get resource points if you win.) A new addition is that your rivals (who FINALLY look different than in the past three years, they no longer have that bright eye garbage) could participate in the invitational events between Grands Prix, but they usually do so in the overtake challenge, the checkpoint runs, or the time attacks. For the free practices, you still have the six tests from 2018 (track acclimatisation, tyre management, fuel management, ERS management, qualifying pace, and race simulation), both with green (good result) and purple (perfect result) categories, with the latter giving you double the resource points.
You still upgrade the car yourself, and you still get contract negotiations every 3 or 4 race weekends (I honestly forgot how many, my brain is crap), where you get to negotiate your qualifying and race result expectations, whether you want to be first driver (gaining more resource points) or second, and if you want to complete easy/normal/hard team expectations (with each giving more and more resource points). There are still four perks (amount of upgrades developed simultaneously, upgrade completion’s speed, resource point bonuses, and the still unrealistic pit stop speed bonus – what is human error?), and you still get three shots to negotiate, but I think the teams have lowered their contract values, as I always got it for the first time. However, here’s another new addition: OMG! MID-SEASON DRIVER MOVEMENTS BY THE AI! In my case, Stroll and Ricciardo have swapped places, meaning the Canadian driver moved to Renault, and the always smiling Australian joined Force India Racing Point.
Oh, and the press interview thing is still present in F1 2019, but Claire, the interviewing lady got her lines re-recorded, and she also got new questions (if you run heavily used engine parts, she’ll ask about failures), which still pushes you around the sportsman/showman line, gain or lose reputation with teams, and within your team, you can either improve or ruin the morale for the Durability, Aero, Chassis and Power Unit departments (which either reduces the price of upgrades and their failure chance or increases them, depending on your answer). A tip: on all three departments (except for Durability, where you can’t do this), buy two levels each for the efficiency. That’ll cost you 2200 resource points per department, but in return, all upgrades, as well as their repair and modify-to-next-season work will cost 20% less. That’ll make you suffer for a while (due to no car upgrades), but in return, you get to upgrade ridiculously quickly later down the line…
A new addition: you can hear the F2 commentary duo after the races. (During the Grands Prix, you still have no commentary, which is a missed opportunity for MotoGP 19 as well.) Another new addition: the F1 commentary also seems to have been slightly upgraded pre- and post-race, but not by much. The cars sound acceptable, and you can still hear if your ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) starts to wear out, as you’ll hear a distinct noise. There are also new „classic” cars: the Anniversary Edition gets you two cars from 2010 (Ferrari F10, McLaren MP4-25), but the Legends Edition, which costs 10 euros extra (65 instead of 55) will also include the fierce rivalry between two legendary drivers, namely Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, from 1990. Their cars (McLaren MP4-5 and Ferrari F1-90) also got included. 8+ invitational events/challenges, as well as exclusive Senna/Prost multiplayer liveries, are also present in this more expensive version of F1 2019. You have to complete three of the events (which are carbon copies of between Grands Prix events, to be honest) to unlock the two cars. It’s a good idea, but in my opinion, it is not worth ten euros whatsoever.
The physics, in my opinion, has also improved, but it’s still not perfect. Handling has never been an issue. The menu system has been significantly overhauled, separating eSport, multiplayer and career – I like it, and the game finally picked up the TV visuals, which I lacked last year. There’s a ton of championships to race offline, and now there are a few more classic cars, giving you more variety, meaning you don’t have to play online. Even without that, you can easily spend 45-50 hours minimum on F1 2019. (And I might be way under with my prediction, too…)
OH I’M OUT! CRASHED!
This lead is intentional. The game is still buggy, and it managed to pull off a bug that I have never seen before, and if it stays in the game AFTER it’s been released, I’m going to have a laughing fit at Codemasters. Let’s start by saying (and I’m pointing it out right here that it does NOT affect the final score) F1 2019 has Denuvo. Why? I have no idea because it connects to online services at every boot – you can easily take this ridiculous DRM out of the game, which now has a 438 MB exe. Without it, it’d easily be under 100 MB. Now, my PC is better than the minimum system requirements, which is why I think I can expect the game to run on 1080p at 60 frames per second on ultra low settings. But no. The game stutters for half seconds. I blame it on Denuvo. In 2018, F1 2018 leaked a Denuvo-free exe. I tried the game with that, and guess what? I could set almost everything to ultra high, and I had no hiccups and stutters at all. So, Codemasters, think about it, because this is the reason why I don’t plan on playing online AT ALL in the long term, as the stupid copy protection garbage makes the game stutter either on braking points or in the middle of the corners. Oh, and they can also go f themselves for not mentioning Denuvo FOR THREE YEARS on Steam (and since then, I’m simply not buying F1 games – this is how you lose customers!). It’s not even mentioned in the EULA. No, all you get is Online Revalidation and that the game connects to a third-party service to get a ticket. I think this should be punished, and I absolutely cannot understand how Codemasters can get away with this. I don’t buy games with Denuvo, simply put. I have two games as an exception: I had to review INSIDE pre-release, and I got DOOM as a gift after the D was taken out. So the performance is bad unless you either have a high-end PC or play on a console.
I also noticed in Monaco that as I ended my free practice sessions crossing the finish line (the session ended and I was finishing up my lap), I noticed cars coming OUT of the pit lane. Hold on, that’s illegal. What the hell is the AI doing? Also, Paul Ricard. The race started on full wet tyres, but I noticed it drying up, so I pitted for inters as it was the right choice. What did the AI do? Not pit at all, just run the race on a single set of old wets. Congratulations, zero improvements. In Monaco, the tunnel was weirdly bright, and on a few parts of the track, I had weird graphical artefacts on the screen during the race as if my GPU was dying. Yeah. On ultra low settings. I doubt it: I’d have seen that elsewhere as well, then.
And now for a glitch, or more like an exploit, which is such a gigantic flaw in the game’s 1.03 version that I can’t find the right words. So, in Montreal, I got the Williams on pole, because I like this circuit. After the quali, I thought it’s time to swap the whole engine, as I perform well here, and I think I’d need to do this once in the season anyway. Okay, I swap everything out. You’d think that the 60-place grid penalty would kick me down to 20th, right? Think twice: I STARTED THE RACE FROM POLE, despite the game saying grid penalty for changing components. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? I thought I’ll repeat this in the next race to see if it’s a one-off. So Paul Ricard, pole, swapping everything again. Thirty-place grid penalty, starting from pole position again! I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS, WHAT IS THIS GLITCH? This is where F1 2019 dropped half a point in its 1 to 10 score.
Last year, I gave F1 2018 an 8 out of 10, but this year, I’m giving F1 2019 a 7.8 out of 10. It improved, yes (physics, F2, career mode, multiplayer unique liveries), but it has bugs (and I think we’ll find more over time… but there’s this deadline thing, and I’m pretty sure I’d get more complaints if I don’t submit this long thing before the game is out :D), and it doesn’t seem like a new game, despite what Codemasters says. I wouldn’t pay 65 euros (or whatever it costs on PlayStation 4) for the Senna-Prost extras. I honestly just sat down and started writing down my thoughts, because that is what I think is needed here (and at other times, nothing more than the bare minimum, as there’s absolutely no reason to do more for nothing), and it ended up as a 15K+ character thing in a somewhat personal style. I don’t even know what others say or think as I didn’t even watch a video of the game – this is all that I had on my mind. It’s a good game (let’s just say the career mode is addictive, and for maximalists, it will not end until all upgrades are on the car), but I don’t think you should skip F2, because, without it, there’s no Weber and Butler. Codemasters might make you see Vettel move to Mercedes in the game. A tip for the end: please, for the love of God, make a COOPERATIVE CAREER MODE! One team, two players, let’s upgrade the car TOGETHER! Don’t make me work on the car on my own with my team-mate doing nothing!
+ F2! Two new drivers and cutscenes!
+ More classic cars (although for more money…)
+ Improved physics
– It’s buggy pre-release – if these issues stay in the game, Codemasters deserves a gentle knock on its head…
– F2 2019? Only later this year…
– The AI seems to do a few stupid things
Genre: annual video game adaptation of the Formula-1 series, now with Formula-2
Release date: June 25, 2019 (Legends Edition) / June 28