Friday, October 5, 2012

F1 2012 Review

So many of our yearly sporting franchises have been annualised and cemented into a pattern of incremental updates to slightly improve the game. Ever since NBA Live fell away there have only been one sport with a competitor pushing it to greater heights (FIFA vs PES), but that battle is in the corner of one game. This is the third Formula 1 game in as many years, providing the true simulation experience that not even Forza can provide with its roster of 'super cars'. Codemasters could rest on their morals and simply put out a F1 2012 that is F1 2011 with a new roster since it was still a decent game, but they have gone out there to make sure the franchise is moving forward. Just like another new franchise in UFC Undisputed 3, this is a big step forward into becoming an elite sporting game that truly recreates the adrenalin rushing experience that is F1 racing.


F1 2011 was already a good looking game that did a great job at conveying the notion of speed to the gamer. Codemasters this year have taken what they already had and merely tweaked whats on offer, putting a bit more detail into the smaller parts of the game. Probably the biggest addition to the game graphically this year are the more realistic weather effects. F1 2012's Active Track Technology allows rain showers to appear on certain parts of the track, with storm clouds able to be seen out in the distance. The water physically changes the track and is more than just a visual addition, making the player change their race strategy on these now treacherous corners.

Each and every track on the F1 schedule has been painstakingly recreated to create the ultimate authenticity for the player. Every corner and straight will feel just like the real thing so we can truly feel just like Vettel as he is pulling around a tight hairpin. The Circuit of the Americas in Texas is a new addition to this years game as F1 returns to USA in November 2012. These tracks aren't dead either, as a lot of detail has gone into having an active crowd supporting the drivers as well as an always busy pitstop with crew members receiving an extra polish of detail this year.

Simply put, the cars sound damn amazing. The engines are loud and you can feel the power of the beast you are controlling. Forza Motorsport 4 have mastered the meaty sounds that muscle cars produce but F1 2012 have done a brilliant job at recreating the sound of speed that accompanies a Formula One car that is travelling in excess of 300kmph. One thing that I wasn't expecting when booting up the game was the amount of audio put into a game like this. Your pit crew play a big role in practice and race day, providing advice and stats to keep you one wheel ahead of the other drivers. This adds to the whole F1 experience and is great to see it added into the game.


The drivers in the Formula One championship deal with some of the fastest vehicles in the planet. Only an incredibly small portion of the population could handle these cars, which is why it is so difficult. Codemasters have made sure that F1 2012 follows the challenging nature of these cars that require complete precision lap after lap. If players were thrown into one of these cars without adequate preparation I could sense a high rate of people abandoning the game. This is why the Young Drivers Test is a brilliant addition to the game. As soon as you boot up the game you are thrust into what is essentially a one hour tutorial that gradually introduces everything you need to know. Instead of being a straight up tutorial it is interactive and brilliantly introduces you to the pit crew and the options outside of the racing as well.

Opening up F1 2012 hoping for a walk in the park will leave you ultimately disappointed. Even on the easiest mode you will need near perfection and intense concentration to be successful. Cars handle well, as long as you abide to real world physics. Following correct racing lines and braking with enough time  to spare will let you run a successful race. If not then you will find yourself in the grass or sand. If you don't spin out then your tyres will pick up grass, affecting your grip for a few laps. The authenticity of this is beyond belief and I can't believe how realistic the entire race experience is. Those who can't perform to the same degree as Vettel lap after lap have the option of four flashbacks, which are essentially rewinds like in Forza. Unlike Forza, you only have four for the entire race and from experience I learnt to only use them for big mistakes and just cop trips to the grass on the chin.

There are a variety of game modes on offer to satisfy everyone from the casual gamer to the hardcore F1 champion. Proving Grounds is a nice area for newcomers to start at, learning the trade in time attack and time trial modes that strip away the physical competition and allow you to focus on getting a good feel for the car. Champions Mode is similar to other sporting games that have challenges set by some of the biggest names of all time. There are six challenges that have you pitted up against the best, this definitely isn't for the lighthearted and well have you pushed to the absolute limits. The bulkiest part of the game is of course the career mode. You start out in one of the smaller teams and work your way to objectives set by your crew. Eventually bigger names will see your talent and you will hopefully move up to a F1 powerhouse and be a contendor for the championship alongside the biggest names of the sport. For the social creatures, multiplayer is also implemented well with a vast array of online and local options available.


In some strange way, Codemasters have made the most realistic F1 racing game to date, yet also the most accessible. The array of modes as well as the Young Drivers Test opens up this challenging game to a whole range of people who previously may have been turned off by the sharp learning curve of annual franchise. Turn off all the assists though and this game is tough as nails, something racing enthusiasts can really admire. For me trying to play this properly it gave me a new respect for all the real world drivers of these beasts. F1 2012 is a superb game that provides the sense of speed and danger like no other racing game out there. I can't recommend it enough, this game will test your concentration, skill and anger levels but by gosh is it worth it.

Graphics - 9/10 
Sound - 9/10 
Gameplay - 8.5/10 
Overall - 9/10