Strip a modern F1 car of all of its sponsorship decals, goes the well-worn saying I’ve been guilty of bandying around myself, and you’d be hard pushed to tell any two models apart. So strictly defined is the modern rule-set, so homogeneous the designs, that underneath that lick of lurid paint every car is almost exactly the same – and it’s an accusation you could well level at F1 2018, the 10th mainline outing of Codemasters’ official take on the sport, and one of its most gently iterative outings yet.
To get a handle on what’s new you’ll need a cheat sheet to hand, and it hardly makes for compelling reading. The headline new feature is media interviews – something that returns from the series’ first HD outing, F1 2010, before it was quietly jettisoned a little further down the line. Eight years on and it’s not that much more convincing, a dead-eyed interviewer asking you some fairly banal questions with only a fairly banal selection of replies available, the results impacting gently on your standing within the team and its various departments. It’s cute but comes off inconsequential – there are no really mischievous answers available, or at least I’ve yet to come across the chance to ask a fellow driver to suck my balls – and of all the features to focus on, it’s surely low down on most players’ lists.
How about doing away with the barebones menus and returning to the more premium front-end of those older games? Or fixing the UI so it’s a little less cluttered and more in line with the FOM’s official feed? And how about introducing some of the feeder series that make up the travelling circus, so we’ve got something to play with beyond F1 cars? Maybe these updates are to come in future editions, as the series makes its typically gentle progress – tied down as it is to yearly instalments, even if you suspect the resources aren’t quite there to meaningfully move the games forward on an annual basis.
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