Does it manage to push the bar?
Codemasters made massive strides in the racing genre with the release of F1 2010, and created an ambitious F1 game. Its successor F1 2011 was an incremental upgrade; a symptom of yearly release schedules. So then, with F1 2012, they aim to innovate again by bringing in new features.
F1 2011 looked stunning, and quite possibly one of the best looking racing games ever made. It’s no different here in F1 2012 though, with Codies polishing the hell out of the visuals and smudging out all the niggles. While performance issues were prevalent in the console versions for the previous games, it’s not really an issue in the PC version with the ability to crank up the settings to max with bells and whistles enabled.
I have a soft spot for F1 Championship Edition made by the now defunct SCEE Liverpool. While not that meaty in content, it featured terrific balance and gorgeous visuals along with a fine handling system. F1 2012 surpasses that in almost every way, but one major issue I have is that, you won’t really find a lot of difference with this year’s iteration and the superlative F1 2010.
These games are almost always difficult. There’s no scope for mistakes and you really need to master your car’s handling, and learn how it behaves when you modify the settings or add new parts. That’s the thrill in all this, though. It’s a game made for the fans of Formula One and is not really accessible for new comers, who just want to zip around in Ferarris and McLarens.
The game contains a nifty tutorial called the young driver test where it updates people new to the game on the mechanics and other systems which will be vital when playing the competitive career mode. The KERS and DRS system, especially the DRS, need some getting used to because it can be very confusing to activate them at the right stage. KERS gives your car a 7 second boost and DRS has to be activated in a specific area to gain speed.
There are a lot of cameras available here along with a new one which gives you the exact same view that you usually see on TV. It’s exhilarating, although, I always used the cockpit view because of the incredible detailing and it feels such a thrill to drive an F1 car at a blistering pace sitting in the drivers seat. Of course, you can play this with a controller too, but I prefer the wheel. The physics engine has been tweaked slightly and is sort of reminiscent of GT5’s F1 races, so a wheel is very much recommended.
Codies have introduced new modes like Proving Grounds where you get to play the champions mode; a bunch of pre-set races against known Forumla One superstars. You can call this as the arcade mode. There are also time attack and time trails available here, and you know what that entails, right? If you cannot spend a lot of time in the Career and Season Challenge, Proving Grounds is very much recommended.
Talking about Season Challenge, it’s a new mode where you get to jump into races quickly and also check out the different teams out there. I recommend people to play this mode for a while before jumping into the time consuming career mode. You have to complete mini-objectives like finishing the race at a specific place or beating your rival which you can select at the HUB menu. There is also an e-mail system where owners and managers, named after the real-world ones, send you mails which increases the overall immersion.
The presentation is top notch here, with fully functional and accessible menus, to the uncomplicated HUB system which tells you all that you need to know. Of course, there is a slight learning curve especially if you know nothing about the sport, but hey, that’s your fault, isn’t it? Codies have tried to make this iteration as accessible as possible but it is simply not a noob friendly game at all.
This is very much noticeable in the races where you cannot make a mistake or end up way behind struggling to catch your competitors. Knowing thge layout of the fantastically designed tracks are vital to winning a race or at least completing one without making any mistakes. The car models and tracks look gorgeous on a PC, with stupendous attention to detail brimming from every nook and corner. Make no mistake about it, this is a game which has been designed by a team that knows what its doing.
The multiplayer modes are quite straightforward with LAN and Split-Screen support available from the get-go. I didn’t really get a chance to test it out due to the lack of players but this really shouldn’t be a problem once the game is out. Based on F1 2010 and 2011’s online mode, I think Codies must have done a competent job here as well. Even without the multiplayer mode, there’s enough content available to last you a while. If you are obsessive about winning and your stats, then expect to play this game for a long time.
F1 2012 is truly a work of art, however, it does not look like a big improvement over its predecessors, because F1 2010 already set the bar very high. I can’t really blame Codies here though, it’s a drawback of the yearly release schedule but Forumla One fans can’t go wrong with this game. It’s splendid.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Fantastic visuals. Great handling. New features. Slightly more accessible than previous games. Competitive Career mode.
Not much improvement over previous games. Not for newcomers to the sport.
F1 2012 is truly a work of art, however, it does not look like a big improvement over its predecessors, because F1 2010 already set the bar very high.