F1 2019 review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-20
Online: Yes

F1 2019 is the first time I’ve ever played an F1 game, and in some ways it’s the strangest racing game I’ve ever played.

Of course, what that really means is that F1 2019 is probably the hardest, most true-to-life racing game I’ve ever played. Even though I turned the AI challenge level down to Very Easy, and I made the controls and the tuning as simple as possible, it’s still incredibly challenging..

And not in the way that racing games are often challenging, either. It’s not like there’s crazy rubber banding, or upgrading your car is next-to-impossible — which are often the biggest complaints I’ve had with other games. No, F1 2019 is just plain hard. The cars go at high speeds, the curves here are tight and treacherous, and the AI racers are excellent. You can’t just lower the difficulty, and then sit back and dominate — as I said, I tried that, and my reward was languishing near the bottom of the standings. It turns out, the only way to get good at F1 is to…get good at F1.

Luckily, F1 2019 gives you ample opportunity to do just that. Every race is preceded by plenty of opportunities to practice and learn the intricacies of each track. You can also spend some time in F1’s training circuit, F2, so you can get a feel for what’s expected of you. You can even opt for lower pressure teams, so that rather than disappointing the top-tier constructors like Ferrari or Red Bull, you can get your feet under you with teams where winning every race isn’t the sole priority.

I’ll admit (again) that this didn’t help me much. It takes real effort to unlearn years of ingrained driving game behaviour, where you can just easily drift around every tight corner, flick a nitro button, and zoom past everyone. F1 2019 doesn’t allow you to do that. For me, the defining moment of my time with the game was in one of my first races, where I’d fought my way up to 9th, with the first-place car less than two seconds ahead of me. I took one curve a little awkwardly, and even though I barely lost any speed, the slip was enough for me to plummet from 9th to 20th (also known as dead last).

Mind you, I think that’s the real appeal of F1 — and, by extension, of F1 2019. I’ve never been a racing fan, but I’ve always had the impression that it’s a couple of steps above the likes of NASCAR and Indy car racing. That’s an impression borne out by F1 2019, and it means that anyone who wants a real racing game challenge would be well-advised to check it out.

Codemasters provided us with an F1 2019 PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+