In a nutshell
F1 2012 is the latest title in the quintessential Formula One series. This latest entry into the celebrated series offers much more content than the titles before, making it far more than just a seasonal update. An absolute gem for any die-hard simulator F1 fan, and with a little care, anyone can go F1 racing.
Developer: Codemasters Racing
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.0/10
The headline new game mode in F1 2012 is the ‘Champions Mode’ where you get to drive as one of the six world champions that feature in the game. So drive as Shumi in the Ferrari, or Raikkonen in the McLaren through a winning championship. This unique new mode alone makes this a ‘must have’ for the enthusiast.
There’s more though, as it is clear that the focus with this year’s title was to offer substance. Codemasters Racing had the racing-physics down with the previous games, so not much evolution was needed, if anything, in that department. So the developers clearly went to work on offering content or variety. New to is the ‘Young Driver’s Test’ which serves as an introduction to the race-physics. Here you need to pass a few different tests to achieve medals. The physics seemed a little tougher here or less forgiving.
Players can also participate in familiar online races as well as exhibition races which offer any car, any driver and any track in a quick shootout. It’s the most pick-up-and-play portion of the package and with the various settings, you can make it as easy or as difficult as you like.
Then with Career Mode you now have two offerings – a watered down sort of career where you start from the back of the pack and work your way to the front of the grid’s teams over a season. You select an opponent to focus on overall, choose the difficulty and you are graded according to how you did. You pit yourself up against the online leader-boards. So for example, I started in the Caterham, set it on ‘difficult’ and chose to rival Maldonaldo. So I graded highly for firstly beating him amongst the rest of the pack, then for choosing the highest difficulty and for choosing a rival in a higher-ranked car ahead of me. You have a quick lap to qualify and go straight into the race. So it’s different from the full career mode with the full sessions over a weekend.
The normal career mode will be familiar to fans that played the previous games. You need to test with the lesser teams, get a drive and then work your way through a seven year career. The better you do, the higher your chances of scoring a drive with the leading teams. This features the entire race weekend, but you can skip sessions.
I have never known how a F1 game could offer more with the career or other modes. Fortunately the good folks at Codemasters did and the new modes add so much depth and variety to the package. Previously I would do a full career hopping from team to team, and within a few months, I would only pick up the game when inspired. With this package, I have been switching from mode to mode like a kid at Christmas who’s just opened up all the presents – which do I play first? I am interested in the traditional career, but love competing on leader-boards, and then there are the various Champion’s seats to drive in. I can see myself busy with F1 for a long time to come as I compete in all the modes.
Gameplay and Controls
Fans of the series will know the design of the physics that Codemasters Racing managed to exquisitely put together. The driving physics portray the intensity of the sport, without being overwhelming. The focus is on racing across every last metre of the track, and so every corner is an event. If anything I only noticed minor tweaks with F1 2012’s physics over last year’s game. In particular with the driving aids off, the physics seem a little less forgiving. I remember with last year’s game, accelerating on the curbs for example would result in your tyres slipping. This year’s title seems to have furthered this, and so the curbs are even more punitive.
When driving without the driving aids switched on, even with traction control on ‘medium’, the traction seems to be more challenging for the simulator that will race without the aids. With F1 2012, with the traction control switched to medium, I seemed to slide out more or with more ease when accelerating too hard. You can’t blame Codies for these choices, it is the avid sim-fan that will purchase these titles year in year out. I am also playing with a controller, so an accelerator would give me way more control with the acceleration. With the controller it is difficult to control the acceleration input. Arcade fans can still get to grip with the controls though, they will just need drop the Need for Speed way with the controls – a little care is needed.
With the overall gameplay, and I can’t quite pin-point why, the gameplay seems a little more fluid, a little more exhilarating. I don’t think the developers tried to do more than tweak the physics, and I am glad, because the Codemasters formula is the finest the sport has ever seen on consoles – I would know, I have owned and extensively played every Formula One game on consoles.
Sound and Visuals
The visual theme is where last year’s players will see the most change. Not that last year’s game was in anyway poorly presented, quite on the contrary actually, but the new presentation is even more welcoming than last year and absolutely gorgeous. The menus are neat and beautifully designed with a host of showcase ‘niceties’ for that authentic F1 experience. The cars look as gorgeous and realistic as ever, as do the tracks. These latter aspects would take a keen eye to notice progression from last year’s game, but last year’s game was already pretty stunning.
I do think the sound quality has moved forward with in some areas. The gear-changes deliver a more solid ‘clunk’ when activated and the higher revs seem to scream a little more realistically. The rev-range seems to be more distinct now as you climb through the range. The menus and sub-menus now feature a narrator who guides you through the modes and drops interesting information.
The overall audio-visual quality is of the very highest calibre, and I believe the quality will only be improved with the next-generation. The presentation is an absolute treat and makes for an authentic and a grand F1 experience, from booting up to hitting the track… absolutely exquisite.
I have always maintained that Formula One games must be one of the most difficult sports to portray in a videogame. I mean if you make it an extreme F1 simulator, then you run the risk of totally alienating a vast majority of the “wannabee race aces.” It is an exceptionally difficult sport, extremely technical and a second as they say “is a lifetime,” in Formula 1. When Codemasters took over the licenses a few years ago, they managed to bring us driving-physics that were manageable for the arcade fan, whilst still delivering enough of a challenge for the simulator fan. Most of all, the actual “racing” was and is as exciting as even a fanatic could hope for. F1 2012 leans a little more to the simulator side, but spectacularly so.
I think arcade fans can still switch on enough of the driving-aids on offer to be able to pilot the cars. And then there are the F1 fanatics like me, who will want it purely for the fact that it features the latest livery, tracks and drivers. If you fit in the latter category, you would’ve probably done enough laps with the old game to notice other subtle tweaks here and there with the physics, totally justifying this season’s purchase for more than just the aesthetic upgrade.
In the end what makes F1 2012 a totally justifiable upgrade is added content. The new beg to be played and a far from after-thoughts, giving you much more than just a career to race in.
Read about our ratings here.