The world's premier single seater series is back on consoles for its 2017 edition with a shiny license in tow. This is now the third iteration since the series made its debut on the current generation of consoles, and as you'd expect, it's been given a healthy polish along the way.
While this isn't a perfect racing game, for fans of the F1 experience it covers every base you'd want. It's better looking and better performing than ever before. It supports HDR and will get a fancy upgrade for Xbox One X owners.
Regardless of which console you're playing on, it's a lot of fun. And it's being released on August 25.
Shiny happy people
We're not short on great-looking racing games nowadays, and F1 2017 fits into the pack perfectly. Part of the attraction is the official license that Codemasters has, which means all the teams, drivers, and circuits are from real-life F1. Not just that, but representations of their hospitality suites, the team bosses on the pit wall, and all the likenesses are pretty spot on. If you follow F1, you'll know who you're looking at in an instant.
There's a real sparkle when you consider F1 2017 graphically. It's as sharp as a tack, gloriously colorful and every bit a true-to-life digital recreation. Some of the details are exciting, too, like the heat haze that radiates from the back of the car in front or the way the sunlight glistens on the tarmac.
What isn't so good is that while the graphics are beautiful, F1 2017 suffers from horrendous tearing. This seems to be a byproduct of keeping the frame rate at 60 frames per second (FPS), but it's frequent and annoying. It's also worse on some tracks than others.
There's only so much you can do with the hardware available, and Codemasters took the stance of frame rate over all else.
Strength in depth
Career mode is once again at the heart of the single player experience, but it's not all she wrote. The basic idea of the career mode is unchanged from F1 2016, but the overall execution is certainly more complete. There's still the cheesy moments of dealing with your agent, and your engineer, and this year also includes a rich guy who wants you to drive his cars in an invitational event.
The behind-the-scenes aspects of the career mode are where the work has been done. There are little touches which make a difference to the immersion, like being able to now go to an agent's office or the R&D suite where you can examine all your data and speak to your chief engineer. But even this isn't what truly makes the career mode an epic experience.
All of the rules of the real-life championship now apply. That means engines, tires, gearboxes are all subject to rules on how often they can be changed. You have to get through six races with a gearbox before you can swap it out. Or you can do it early and suffer a grid penalty.
Wear transfers across these parts from race to race. That means everything your team does can affect how long your important parts work at their best. The teams further up the grid will have better engineers, but if you're driving for Sauber, you might not be as lucky.
Race weekends are customizable as to how much you want to do, with shorter qualifying rounds and races all down to your decisions. If you're hardcore, do a full race weekend of three practice sessions, full qualifying, and a full race distance. Or just do 25 percent, it's up to you.
Performing well is key to developing not only your reputation as a driver but also to improve the car. Meeting objectives means R&D resources to spend, and there's a huge map of things you can do to your car to make it better. One of those is beating your teammate. This benefits both you and the car, so make sure you leave them in the dust.
The closest you'll get to being behind the wheel
The in-race experience is generally first-rate. But there are moments you'll be immensely frustrated, broken hearted, fully angry and also jubilant. Because F1 2017 is so well put together, it's incredibly immersive. If your car breaks down or you get shunted from behind by another driver, you'll be sent on a roller coaster of emotions.
All those practice laps, all that fettling, all that effort to drag yourself up the grid, it's all gone in an instant. Terminal damage is terminal damage. There is no rewind. No reset.
At the same time, your on-screen companion won't be the only one punching the air when you've pulled it all together and got the "W." F1 2017 invites you to fully invest in the experience, and it'll play with your emotions throughout.
Added realism comes from such staples as safety cars and virtual safety cars (not that you ever really know what's going on with those), from pit stops where your team will scurry around before your very eyes trying to get you back out there in a flash, and from manual start-line procedures.
By default, you'll be in charge of launching the car properly, and it's an important skill to master. You have to press "A" to dip the clutch, reach optimal revs and launch when the lights go green.
A bad start can, and often does, ruin your race. That's partly because the driver AI is a little aggressive at times when it comes to sticking to the racing line. Contact will also mean warnings and penalties, as does cutting the corners or exceeding track limits. You're rewarded for driving a clean race and punished if you get a little too aggressive.
Historics and other events
If you enjoyed F1 in the days of old when the cars just had large engines and made one hell of a noise, then you're in luck in F1 2017. There are 12 historic racers to get your hands on, though one of them, the 1988 McLaren MP4/4, is exclusive to preorder customers and those buying the day-one edition. Here's what you get:
- 1988 McLaren MP4/4 (preorder and day-one only).
- 1991 McLaren MP4/6.
- 1998 McLaren MP4/13.
- 2008 McLaren MP4-23.
- 2006 Renault R26.
- 2007 Ferrari F2007.
- 2010 Red Bull RB6.
- 1992 Williams FW14B.
- 1996 Williams FW18.
- 2002 Ferrari F2002.
- 2004 Ferrari F2004.
- 1995 Ferrari 412 T2.
The historic cars can be driven on any of the circuits from the main F1 calendar, as well as the added short circuits and the night time jaunt around Monaco. If you're chasing more depth than just a single Grand Prix, there are dedicated championships for them.
These are also available for the modern day cars and they're a less intense way to experience a title charge without getting fully engrossed in a career. They're less involved off the track, leaving you to concentrate on what's the most fun: driving.
The bottom line on F1 2017 for Xbox One
F1 2017 is in many ways another yearly, iterative update on a licensed franchise. Yearly updates are often hard to get excited about, but F1 2017 isn't one of those. Sure, it's not a hardcore simulator, but it's got plenty of techy tweaks to keep the motorsport nerds happy while still being approachable enough for more casual gamers.
It looks amazing, it handles extremely well and there's enough depth in the single player career mode to keep you going until next year's game. The addition of historic cars is a welcome bonus for fans of the sport.
It's a shame that it suffers from so much tearing. It's admirable that Codemasters wanted to keep a high frame rate going, and that much is fact. But it's hard to deny how horribly distracting they are when they come.
Everywhere else, F1 2017 is a thoroughly enjoyable, deeply engrossing experience that both fans and newcomers will enjoy.
F1 2017 should launches on Xbox One alongside PlayStation (PS4), PC and Mac on August 25 for $60.
- Stunning graphics.
- Deep and immersive career mode.
- Bad-ass historic racers.
- Hideous tearing.
- Sometimes over aggressive driver AI.
Review conducted entirely on Xbox One with a copy of the game provided by the publisher.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine