Game review: F1 2019 game is more exciting than F1 itself

The biggest highlight of F1 2019 is the new career mode that begins with you being a F2 driver working your way up to F1.
The biggest highlight of F1 2019 is the new career mode that begins with you being a F2 driver working your way up to F1.PHOTO: CODEMASTERS

I stopped watching Formula One (F1) recently despite being a long-time fan.

It is getting boring with Lewis Hamilton running away with the world title almost every year (except in 2016) for the past five seasons.

Boring can also be used to describe its video game counterpart from last year - F1 2018 - which has only moderate improvements over its predecessor.

Thankfully, things are different with the F1 2019 game. The biggest highlight is the new career mode that begins with you being a Formula Two (F2) driver working your way up to F1.

Regardless of the name you give yourself and the team you choose in F2, your teammate will be Lukas Weber and your arch-rival Devon Butler. Both are your racing rivals, but Butler is the major pain in the neck.

There are cut scenes that show interactions among the three of you. There are also media interviews, in which you have to answer each question from a set of given replies within a 30-second limit.

Your answers will dictate your inclination towards sportsmanship or showmanship. Your inclination will affect your choice of F1 team later. It makes you really feel like a young racing driver learning the trade.

In addition, the F2 championship is a great way for players to get to grips with driving in this game. And it can be brutally difficult to race, especially if you are a beginner.

Thankfully, you can adjust the difficulty level, the amount of driving assists such as driving line and traction control, and your rivals' artificial intelligence (AI) level.

The lower the AI, the less skilled they are and less likely to make overtaking manoeuvres.

On the downside, the F2, with only three races, is a tad too short. You will soon find yourself promoted to F1, at which point you get to choose the F1 team of your liking and the real-life driver will be booted out of the team.

I chose Williams, a proud F1 team with plenty of history and famed for having the late legendary Ayrton Senna in its roster. Unfortunately, Williams is now at the end of the pack. Still, the team suits me better as an upcoming F1 driver.

You will find your two F2 rivals being promoted to the big league too. But there are no more cut scenes and drama with them or your current teammate.

Instead, you can only read e-mail messages containing your old F2 rivals' interview transcripts to know how they are doing via a workstation.

  • FOR

    - New career mode thats starts from Formula 2

    - Instant replay to correct mistakes

    - Superb graphics

    AGAINST

    - Formula 2 segment in career mode too short

    - Races can be a drag at times

    TECH SPECS

    PRICE: From $49.00 (PS4; PC; Xbox One, version tested)

    GENRE: Racing simulation

    RATING: 9/10

This workstation is also where you will be entering your races, looking at the research and development options to decide what aspects - such as aerodynamics and powertrain - to upgrade and keeping track of how you are doing against your direct rivals in terms of reputation.

The unforgiving nature of this motorsport soon sets in after you embark on F1. For each leg of the season that brings you from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi, you have to go through three practice sessions and a qualifying session - to determine your race start position - before you get to do the race proper. Just like in real-life.

Of course, you can skip the three practice sessions. But that means you might not do so well in the qualifying session and race, as you have not familiarised yourself with the track and done tests for the engineering team.

In addition, although the races have been reduced to around 14 to 16 laps each, unlike the 50 to 60 laps real F1 drivers need to do, there is still no margin for error and things can become a drag.

A little lapse of concentration and you will crash, which happened to me often. Indeed, you might find yourself unable to enjoy the superb graphics and details - from the chassis to the racing venue - of this game. The weather mechanics, like rain, add much spice and uncertainty to the game, as you need to change to wet tyres.

Thankfully, there is the flashback function that allows you to rewind a few seconds at any point of the race and restart to rectify mistakes you have made - a life saver for many of my races.

Apart from the career mode, you can pit your skills against others in multiplayer modes or start a standalone season in F2.

The career mode is enough to keep me busy though, whether it is the mid-season roster changes after I had impressed enough to be able to switch to a bigger team like Red Bull Racing, putting poor Pierre Gasly out of his job; or running out of fuel near the finishing line in a race.

Now, that is not boring anymore.