The time has come for Formula 1 fans to get excited because it is time for the official game by Codemasters to be released. As with every F1 game we have had to wait for the back end of the season for the release due to licensing but I think that we would rather get a game late than not at all. With the previous versions being so good I have high hopes for F1 2012 so let's see how it did.
Upon first loading the game and letting the opening video play you will find a rather familiar vision of highlights for early in the season with a rather well chosen backing track of, "AKA... What A Life!" by Noel Gallagher. After watching cars spin, crash and fly through the air you are welcomed by a screen that looks familiar, the screen where you need to enter your name and country of origin. After this you will be thrown straight into the driving seat of ether the Ferrari, Red Bull or McLaren, in the young drivers test at the Yas Marina Circuit. The test will give you the instructions and help you learn to drive a F1 car. You will need to complete at least the first day to get a contract offer for your career. Obviously the better you do in the test the better teams you can choose from in career.
After the Young drivers test you will find yourself at the main menu where you can enter the world of F1 in a number of different ways. As with every racing game there is a quick race mode where you can choose from any of the 24 drivers to race around any of the tracks, then there is the menu for career which includes the Young driver test as well as career mode which lets you go into a five season career while trying to work your way up to be the best in the world, the only down side to the career this year is you have no option to have any less than a 25% race which for the casual player is probably a bit too long with most of the races being over 12 laps as well as practice and qualifying. The new feature in the career sub menu is the season challenge which lets players who don't like the idea of having to do a 25% race the chance to do a shortened career of only ten races with one lap qualifying with a five lap race. The aim of the season challenge is to start at the bottom of the grid and challenge drivers in better cars and try and win them, when you win you will then have their seat in the next race. So your aim is to work your way up the top teams within ten races.
Another new game mode is the champions mode, in this mode you will have certain objectives in each race in a set car on a set track against one of the six world champions that are gracing the grid this year, like having 3 laps to catch and overtake Kimi Raikkonen and having to overtake Hamilton after a pit stop for wets with two laps to go at Brazil.
If you feel that you would like to know a circuit a bit better there is a track guide presented by Anthony Davidson, watching these track guides will tell you the braking zones and gearing, this could give or take vital seconds off your time. One thing that does really spoil the racing experience is that you seem to be the only car that gets penalties. On a few occasions now I have had someone out brake themselves and collide with the side of me but instead of them getting the penalty I am the one driving through the pits or with time being added on at the end of the race. From that negative to a positive when racing I have found that unlike last year the AI racers seem to be going off the track and making contact with each other so there are more retirements in one race than there was for the whole of the game last year.
With not that much to change in-game given only one new track added to the calendar this season and with not a lot changed on the cars apart from the new stepped nose, the developers really didn't need to do anything different visually from last year. But thankfully there has been changes to the visuals as well as the audio to the cars. Visually the cars and environments are better than last year. For example the Singapore GP looks more vibrant and with this being the only night race on the calendar you can see why Codemasters have had trouble with it the past couple of years. In last year's instalment there was light always shining off the top of the tyres, this would have looked ok if it wasn't stupidly pixelated and made the tyres look unrealistic. As with all F1 games that have come before there is damage and brake lock ups. The damage the cars sustain when crashing into walls and anything else you can find looks unchanged but when you lock up your brakes instead of both front wheels locking up only the inside or unloaded wheel locks up giving a more realistic feel. If you feel like you are locking up too much there is the new feature of adjusting your brake balance on track by using the D-pad, putting more pressure on the front or rears.
For the first time there will be localised weather, just like in the real world you will be racing around the track and then suddenly there will be a shower but instead of this affecting the whole circuit it may just affect one or two corners. This will leave you having to make race changing strategy calls.
Thankfully Codemasters have taken another step forward in trying to restore an annual F1 game with the introduction of new game modes and localised weather. I know that I will be playing F1 2012 for most of the year. As with every game there are bugs and glitches that will need to be ironed out like having very little feel through the steering at high speed, but apart from that, this has the potential to be the best F1 game to date.
- New game modes
- AI racers make mistakes
- localised weather
- Too easy to get penalties
- Lack of feel on steering at high speed