As with last years impressive effort Codemasters has done the same again and more. This years entry into the F1 series has little tweaks and additions that make the experience more immersive and provide more replay value. The staple is of course Career mode. Here you create your own driver, and for the first time you are able to select a female driver. Choose a team to join depending on your preferences, be it your favourite team, or the teams expectations of you (finishing positions etc.)
Once you start your career you are introduced to familiar faces from last year. Emma the PR Agent deals with your contracts and also for this year, will organise some invitational events, but more on those later. Chris the Engineer deals with R & D which this year has had an overhaul, again more on this later. Each race meeting has three practice sessions, there’s a little more to it than just getting to know each circuit, as with last year there are also practice programmes to run, these include track acclimatisation, Tyre Management, Fuel Saving, Qualifying Pace, Race Strategy and Team Objectives.
Completing these Programmes is much more important this year, as the points earned from completing them tie in to the aforementioned R & D, which is much more involving this year, not only is the list of possible upgrades huge, but there is also a chance that the research can fail, meaning having to retry at the cost of more points. You can of course spend points in upgrading the quality of the research meaning less chance of failure. I found myself skipping most of the practice programmes last year, as they felt a little pointless after a while, this year however the changes made are welcome, and definitely kept me wanting to complete the programmes, especially after an R & D failure.
Another new addition to the game is engine wear, You’ll have to keep a close eye on this as you progress through the season, and if needed change out worn parts from the four available. You’ll be given a heads up if parts become worn during a race, and advised on how to manage them. things such as changing fuel mixture, and not riding kerbs to hard. it make the racing very involving and becomes more about managing the car as a whole rather than just keeping your foot in.
During the Season Emma introduces you to an odd looking chap named Jonathan, he runs the invitational events, and from time to time will stop by to offer you a drive. Invitational events will have you competing in various challenges using the newly added Classic Cars, the challenges range from overtaking x amount of cars within a time limit, Check point challenges where you have to cover a certain distance before time runs out, Pursuit has you chasing down cars that have a head start, and you must pass them before completing the allocated laps and finally Time Attack. these can be played from the main menu too, but must be unlocked in career first.
There’s also championships you can get involved with too, starting with the obvious F1 2017 Championship in which you play as a real world driver. There’s also a whole bunch of others including Classic Championships, Sprint Championships and more, there’s only a few open to start off, with the rest having to be unlocked from points earned in the ones available. These additions are welcomed and provide a nice variety of cars and race types to try out if you’re looking to break up the career mode.
Overall the gameplay feels solid, from the controls, dynamic weather, car management and talking to the pit crew. Combined with the tweaks to the R & D, F1 2017 ticks all the right boxes. There’s also plenty of options to make the game as easy or as difficult as you want, making it as welcoming to newcomers as it is challenging to hardcore racers. Visually I did encounter some juddering and screen tearing during the cutscenes in career mode, although during races the visuals were spot on, and seemed to be slightly improved over last years game. Audio is as good as last year, possibly made better with the awesome sounds of the classic cars, just listen to them scream!