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F1 2019: the lines between virtual racing and real life have never been more blurred

Dream Team Gaming got hands on with Codemaster's F1 2019 before its release in June

Excitement for the annual Formula 1 release from Codemasters has reached fever pitch. 

With just a few weeks to go until F1 2019 hits the shelves on June 28, racing fans don’t have too long left to wait to get their hands on the official Formula 1 game.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the latest release in the popular Codemasters franchise and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

It’s lights out

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It’s lights out

As a relative novice to racing games, in particular F1 releases, I was fearing the worst as I got behind the wheel for the first time.

Advised by Dave Greco, Senior Designer at Codemasters, I began my racing career with a series of time trials, as I gradually eased my way into all things F1 2019.

According to Dave, that would be the most sensible introduction for newcomers to the F1 franchise.

“Time trials on an easier track are the best way to go for any beginners,” he said.

Practice in exhibition races before you start competing for silverware

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Practice in exhibition races before you start competing for silverware

“Just take your time to get a feel for the car with all the assists.

“As you start to feel more comfortable, you can move to a more difficult track or take off some of the assists.”

Visually the game is something quite special, and it’s the distraction of those stunning graphics that I shamelessly tried to blame 99% of my crashes on.

Spot the difference

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Spot the difference

Before I got hands on with the game, I was shown video footage that compared the visuals from F1 2018 to this year’s release.

The difference was startling.

“One of the first things we wanted to improve this year were the visuals to make sure they’re as realistic as possible,” Dave said.

And improve they have, with F1 2019 looking about as authentic as you can get for something that isn’t actually real life.

The experience is at it’s most immersive when played in the first person cockpit view.

Control centre

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Control centre

Whether it’s the reflection off your tyres from the blazing Baku sun, or the floodlights silhouetting you and your fellow drivers around the streets of Monaco, the visuals are undoubtedly some of the most impressive I’ve seen.

It’s not just with aesthetics where F1 2019 has received a makeover.

Virtual or reality?

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Virtual or reality?

Far more has been touched up under the bonnet to finesse the mechanics of last year’s release and make the users’ racing experience feel more realistic than ever.

“With the physics, everything has been looked at,” Dave explained.

“Right from the handling of the car, to the tyres, aerodynamics, engine and suspension work.

“We work with real engineers and get real life data from F1 teams and get feedback from drivers to make sure it’s as authentic as possible.”

I quickly discovered that practice really does make perfect with a game like F1 2019.

With every corner you get more confident, every straight more assertive and from every crash you learn.

Having cut my teeth on the time trials, I felt comfortable enough to start earning my stripes in the world of Formula 2 – according to Dave one of the most exciting new additions to the game.

“I am really pleased that we’ve got the F2 in the game this year,” he said.

F2 adds a whole new dimension to the game

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F2 adds a whole new dimension to the game

“It’s very unique in that the car is very different from the F1 cars and it actually plays very different.

“On the steering wheel it’s much, much tougher because unlike F1, they don’t have power steering in the F2 so it’s very tricky to control!”

The tagline for F1 2019 is ‘rise up against your rivals’ and true to that cry, the Legends Edition of the game renews arguably the greatest ever rivalry in F1 history.

Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost come face-to-face once again, with Codemasters marking their 10th anniversary as producers of the official game by securing the likenesses of the two greats.

Two legends, one iconic rivalry

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Two legends, one iconic rivalry

Fans can race as either driver in a series of eight special in-game challenges that leave you nostalgic and longing for the good ol’ days of F1.

The world of esports is an ever-expanding one and Codemasters have pulled out all the stops to ensure that F1 2019 becomes a mainstay of the competitive gaming scene.

“Esports is growing and growing, so we wanted to make sure we have a game to support that rapid growth,” Dave said.

Senna and Prost get behind the wheel again

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Senna and Prost get behind the wheel again

“This year our F1 eSports is going to double the prize money to £500,000 because the game needs to grow with the esports.

“Everything starts with the online races and from there some players will be good enough to go to the events and win the prize money.”

F1 2019 is set to drastically change the landscape for racing games.

Avid Formula 1 fans will appreciate the subtle nuances that have been worked into the game’s mechanics, with newcomers to the franchise set to be blown away by the impressive visuals.

F1 2019 is available everywhere from June 28, with early access through the Legends Edition coming on June 25.