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F1 2017 Review

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Gameplay:

Right away I want to apologize for something: I am not a simulation gamer. This game has some simulation elements to it that are, sadly, lost on me. I have looked at them, felt inadequate, and developed a respect for them. To be more specific, these are the features that allow you to customize various aspects of your car, which you can find in Career mode. They are cool but are over my head. Fortunately, those are just one part of the game, and the actual racing gameplay is another part, and that is not over my head. I am not that good at it, but I am capable of it.

When you start Career mode, you select the team you will be racing for and each one has its own expectations for you. Some want victories, but others just want you to consistently score points. I picked the second lowest team on the list, which turned out to be good because of my lack of ability. By 'lack of ability' I mean I am consistently in last place. I am also consistently having fun, which is really what matters.

There is more you can do than just Career mode and actually, I have been doing a lot of the Time Trial races, where it is just me, maybe some ghosts, running a track, just trying to do a better job each lap. The only pressure is to not screw up too badly and run off the track.

There are two gameplay related features I want to mention because of how much I enjoyed using them. The first is the Tobii Tracker 4C support I have already mentioned.

I am not sure if I have said it in an article or forum post anywhere, but I know I have said it in my head that an eye/head tracker like the Tracker 4C would be a perfect peripheral for a racing game. In a first-person view, it will translate physically looking left and right to virtually looking left and right, and that is exactly what it does here. I almost always use a chase camera view when driving a vehicle in a game because it feels better (the only exception is if I need the precision a first-person view may grant). Not in F1 2017. I am using the cockpit view and loving it. I have hands, the wheel, and the track in front of me with the mirrors to the left and right. When I move my gaze to the left and right or turn my head, the view shifts too and I can look in those mirrors to see behind me. It is awesome, but sometimes I lose track of where I am going and miss a turn this way. Awesome trumps my stupidity here, however. Of, course it picks up movement less than looking in the mirrors, so you might notice in the videos a little bit of a head bob. That is my head bobbing, and not just the character's.

 

 

I did try playing with the chase camera view, and I did worse than in the cockpit view. I do not think it is just my having adapted to the cockpit view, because for years I have used the chase view in other games, but that it works so well with the eye/head tracking that it is the superior view for me.

In addition to that feature, we also have Clean UI support, so the different HUD elements, like the minimap, are transparent until you look at them. This is a fairly common Tobii-enabled feature and I like it here just as I like it in other games. This is the reason the HUD is hard to see in the videos and screenshots, in case you were wondering.

The second feature is not exactly an in-game feature, but I was surprised how effective it is for me. To help me with reviews, satisfy my curiosity, and for some game testing I do, I have a wired Xbox 360 controller, a DualShock 4 (PlayStation 4) controller, and a Steam Controller. Sometimes a game works better on a controller than on keyboard and mouse, and sometimes one controller works better than others, due to its design and features. Only for a little bit did I use the KB/M inputs because, honestly, this is not a KB/M game for me. I will not doubt or question that some people can and do play this on keyboard and mouse, but I am not among them.

With my choice of controllers, I initially grabbed the Steam Controller, and while I know some people do not like it, for a racing game, it is my preference. The DualShock 4 does have great build quality and feels good in my hands, but the triggers on the Steam Controller are the best of my three controllers, and because throttle and brake are assigned to the triggers, it is important to me. I like their size, action, and travel distance, although I do change the controller profile to be Aggressive instead of the default Linear. (The grip buttons are also useful because I can assign special functions there, like taking screenshots.) Another change I made to the controller profile was to use Relaxed for the joystick, because I tend to slam the stick to the edge, so I need a curve instead of a linear response for that input.

 

 

One of the nice things about these Steam Controller profiles is that you can share them with the community, but also the developer can share profiles, and it appears Codemasters has. It is not currently shown under the Recommend profiles, but when I looked at the Steam Controller profile there were four action sets already there, and I did not make any of them. Two of them are for controlling with the joystick, while the other two use the controller's gyroscope for input. That means you can hold the controller up and turn it like a wheel.

It may sound gimmicky, and it is kind of awkward, but I gave the gyroscope profile a try and find it works best for me. An actual racing wheel would undoubtedly be superior, but I do not have one and do not plan on getting one either (I am just not the target of such a peripheral). It is kind of awkward to hold the Steam Controller up and turn it in the air, trying to hold down the right-trigger at the same time, but it made controlling the car much easier for me as it gave me a level of precision I do not have with the joystick, and in this game, precision matters. I had the haptics enabled, so there would be a tactile click as I turned the controller, and the joystick still works with this configuration, too.

Let me try to explain this picture to you: if someone were to see me playing F1 2017 they would see someone holding up a controller in front of me, turning it (awkwardly because there is no fixed pivot) and on the monitor in front of me in-game hands turning the wheel in sync, and the view shifting to match the movement of my head and eyes. That is pretty cool that I can directly control this game that much.

The game is fun and I am playing it in a way I might not have expected, but it is fun and feels right. I love the eye/head tracking and the Steam Controller's gyroscope improves my control, too.

 

 

One thing I do want to mention is that I did try using the DualShock 4 controller, which also has a gyroscope, but unfortunately, the gyroscope support is apparently broken in Steam currently. It was not recognizing horizontal input, like turning it, so I could not see how it compares. With its weight compared to the Steam Controller, it might have been easier to wield in the air, but until the gyroscope input works properly, I am not able to compare them.




  1. F1 2017 Review - Introduction
  2. F1 2017 Review - Graphics
  3. F1 2017 Review - Gameplay
  4. F1 2017 Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  5. F1 2017 Review - Conclusion
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