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“Damn your love!” shout Codemasters. “Damn your lies!” And with that, F1 2019 is go, the latest video game adaptation of Fleetwood Mac’s song The Chain. The frustrations, burdens, and dependencies of the human heart are transmuted into a metaphorical automobile, which we must drive at great speed through the straights and chicanes of life, listening to the wind blow while surrounded by rivals and relying on our team with our very life on the line. Weird metaphor, but it makes for some fun video games.
Let's get straight to business, shall we? F1 2019 is the most authentic F1 game I've played. And yes, I'm old enough to have been around when Geoff Crammond was still doing his thing (Formula One Grand Prix was such an obsession back in the day I'd write a mini-fanzine reporting on each race in-between the full-length Grand Prix I'd run every Sunday), to have manhandled the Ferrari 312 around the original 8.774 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Grand Prix Legends and to have pumped 20p pieces into Namco's Final Lap.
And I've followed all of Codemasters' efforts since it acquired the official licence, from the modest beginnings of stopgap offering F1 2009 through to more convincing fare like F1 2013. There have been more than a few blips along the way, but plenty of high points as well - especially in recent years, as the team really began to find its voice. It's a familiar voice, too; the one of the avid enthusiast that tunes in to watch every test session, the one that revels in the details of new turning vanes and bargeboards and how upgraded rear wing elements might impact v-max down the long back straight.
The voice of F1 nerds like myself, basically, and to play F1 2019 is to indulge in a shared passion for the sport. This year's entry makes small strides in some areas and large ones in others, though as with the sport itself it's the small details that make the biggest difference. Visuals have been given the slightest of overhauls, though they have a big impact; there's now a perceptible haze that hangs over Bahrain as the desert night sets in, you can more readily read the state of a set of tires by looking at their texture as well as feeling the car slip under your fingers and new lighting gives the whole package a lift. The human character models still look as dreadful as ever, of course, although F1 2019 does manage to make Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto look even more like Harold Lloyd so I'll take that as a positive.