Codemasters’ new F1 game is jam-packed full of new features and we’re absolutely loving it.
F1 2019 hit the shelves last week to coincide with the weekend’s brilliant Austrian Grand Prix, which many described as one of the finest races of the last few years.
Eager to show Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris how it’s done, we strapped in for the new game’s Career Mode to see if we could forge a successful racing journey of our own.
Prior to loading up the game, we’d heard excellent things about this year’s revamped Career Mode and we weren’t disappointed. Here’s seven really cool things we absolutely love…
1 You start out in F2… which feels far more realistic
In F1 games of yesteryear, it was always rather tempting to jump straight into the best possible cars available.
Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull… even McLaren or Renault, back in the day, at least.
But it all felt a little off.
After all, you never see an unknown hop into one of the big seats straight from the off in real-life, do you?
Well, much like the real world of F1 racing, this year’s game sees you cut your teeth in the junior ranks of F2, the championship which has been previously won by current F1 younglings Leclerc and George Russell.
The F2 championship makes its debut in this year’s edition of the game, with the current 2018 roster in full display, including Russell, Norris and Thailand driver Alexander Albon.
2 There’s an actual story-mode to play
As a kid, I would often use my imagination to create my own F1 championship as I blitzed my way through another season of F1 1999.
You don’t have to do that now, as Career Mode has a genuine story mode with scenarios and fictional rivals to race against to keep the game interesting; much like FIFA’s ‘the Journey’, with Alex Hunter.
Players can take part in certain F2 scenarios, which all lead to consequences and reactions. It’s all very realistic.
Minor spoiler ahead, but I was shocked when I was commanded by my team in the opening race to let my teammate – the fictional Lukas Weber – overtake to take over our position on track. I refused, and the team was not best pleased…
3 Setting up your car is enjoyable and feels rewarding
Setting up your car ahead of a Grand Prix weekend sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it?
That’s because, on the most part, it is.
But this year’s game makes it feel ridiculously rewarding and genuinely fun to do.
At first, the setup screen seems a little daunting, as there’s a great number of options available. But it’s all quite straightforward once you get the hang of it.
Of course, you could always cheat by downloading setups from the internet or reading through the track-by-track tutorials, but where’s the fun in that?
Personally, I enjoy the experience of experimenting with various car settings to find the right one for my driving style.
4 Driver transfers reflect the brutal nature of F1
For those of you following the F1 season this year, you’ll probably know all about the current predicament Red Bull find themselves in with Pierre Gasly.
To put it plainly to the uninitiated, the young Frenchman has failed to live up to the hype that saw him rise from their feeder team Toro Rosso last year into the boiling pot that is Red Bull for the current campaign.
There’s plenty of talk of him being switched for the more-experienced Daniil Kvyat before the season is through.
This is a scenario that can happen in the new F1 game too, as poor performances from yourself or AI drivers could lead to a mid-season change.
Driver transfers are more likely to occur at the end of the season of course, and provides the possibility of some of the current crop – including the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – chopping and changing, making career mode feel unique and far more realistic over 10 seasons.
Although seeing Hamilton move to Red Bull for 2020 did feel a little odd.
5 The AI are genuinely competitive and are tough to race against
When you’re up against a grid of 19 AI-controlled drivers, you assume it’s going to be a bit robotic and stuffy, or perhaps even a little chaotic (we’ve all seen iRobot, right?).
But with this year’s revamped AI, your computer-controlled opponents offer up some spectacular racing, with smart on-track moves – including late-braking lunges at corners to overtake – as well as realistic car management and race craft.
We’ve already had some genuine battles against AI opponents and they’ve all been incredibly satisfying.