Another year gone but Codemasters bring us F1 2018 and lets get this straight from the start, I love Formula 1 and as a huge fan I always feel room for improvement each year but this year could be a very good year for myself and all Fans of F1.

The positives begin with a series norm: beautifully rendered vehicles. The lighting and shaders in this game are outstanding, and that only magnifies the work of the art team in charge of bringing these vehicles to the game.

Beyond the appearance and motion of the cars, the textures of the tracks are conveyed with noteworthy authenticity. As I played around in Photo Mode and zoomed in on the Tarmac and other surfaces, I was impressed with how real it all looks. Even the renders of the drivers while outside of their cars have seemingly gotten better. In some racing games, this is where the falloff begins from a graphical standpoint

It’s good to see consistency in this aspect of the game. Where there is still some slippage is in the crowd, pit crew and other roadside human beings. This is forgivable in a racing game especially, but when the entire game is as attractive as F1 2018, average renders of any kind are noticeable.

As good as the game looks, the nucleus is in the gameplay. F1 2018properly scales the learning curve from novice to maniacal expert as well as any racing game I’ve ever played. For those that don’t know, the world of Formula One racing is an incredibly complex and somewhat intimidating one to take on as a new fan. I remember watching a documentary on the sport (that I can’t remember the name of at the moment) as an onboarding after the movie Rush was released in 2013.

I’d heard of Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, and others, but I didn’t know much more about the sport.

While watching that documentary, Rush and some races since then isn’t enough to make anyone an expert, I have gained a massive appreciation for the labor, teamwork, and skill required to be successful in the sport.

Because of that, I understand the task the folks at Codemasters have in bringing a Formula One simulation to gamers, while still maintaining the requisite playability to attract fans who may not have a clue what the Grand Chelem is all about. With all that said, F1 2018s gameplay delivers a perfect balance between fun and technical specificity.

You’re able to tailor your experience to your skill level and knowledge resource and still enjoy the proverbial ride. Cars from different eras handle differently, and if you pay attention to the instructions given by the engineer in your ear during races, you will notice differences in your vehicle’s performance after damage and wear.

Car damage looks pretty realistic, although the F1 series never allows you to see any hellacious crashes. This is for obvious reasons. There are renders of real people in these cars and overall, that scene while fun in a video game is tragic in real life. Recreating those kinds of scenes will never fly in an officially licensed game.

The race overlays can be overwhelming, even on the novice difficulty settings. There is so much to monitor, and sometimes it feels as if you’re missing something. This is part of my biggest gripes with the game. F1 2018 doesn’t lack much, but it is missing a fun tutorial that teaches gamers the sport and how to play the game at the same time.

F1 2018 can be played by just about anyone, but you can still walk away relatively ignorant to the sport. It would be nice if there was a tutorial similar to what the NHL series by EA offers.

Unlike many of the previous versions of F1 and quite frankly, most racing titles, this one does a pretty good job injecting a human element. In the career mode, you are being followed by a media group that constantly interviews you after races. Your answers dictate the relationship you have with teammates and it can impact the exposure and attention your team receives. Each team has different values.

While the career mode was where I had the most fun in the game, the Grand Prix is a close second. This mode returns and still gives you a chance to build your own series with a variety of races. There is also Championships (multi-discipline racing) Events, Time Trial and a modest, but acceptable online feature set.

You can race ranked or unranked, but you can also engage in an Online Championship series. It’s customizable and a conceptually sound way to engage with friends in the F1 racing experience. This is likely a good jump-off point for fans interested in pursuing the F1 eSports scene, but casuals who might be looking for a slightly looser experience might feel a little abandoned.

Smaller mini-games that can be online exclusives might be a good addition to the series moving forward.  However, for now, the core audience is likely satisfied with the options.

F1 2018 isn’t without flaw or area of opportunity, but the engine that powers its positives revs much louder than the noise made by its few skid marks. This is truly one of the best racing games you’ll ever play.