What F1 2012 Right
- + Great handling
- + Balance between simulator and game
- + Young Driver and Championship modes
- + F1 fans will be pleased
What F1 2012 Got Wrong
- - Presentation is bland
- - No realistic damage
- - Not for the inpatient
F1 2012 feels like an F1 simulation and a video game, something previous attempts to virtualise the motorsport have treated as mutually exclusive. It’s a great simulator, but also more accessible if you want to achieve something substantial without wasting half your weekend completing seventeen-thousand laps just to qualify.
I must confess that I pay lax attention, at best, to the real world of formula one. However, I’ve always been drawn to the video games, in much the same-way that I’m somewhat of a Fifa addict, but rarely watch an entire game of soccer (you see, I do watch football, so I couldn’t use that term here...).
F1 2012 is the third iteration from Codemasters, and perhaps most noteworthy off the bat is its attachment of the ‘2012’ moniker on a game actually released in 2012. As much as I like to see that, I’ve been corrupt by, well, everyone else, and did a double-take when it arrived on my desk, just to be certain that it is actually the new F1 game.
Names aside, its big new feature is the Young Driver Mode. Here, you’re taught the basics of formula one racing and learn how to drive, let alone race, such a unique machine. It holds your hand through accelerating, breaking, turns that go left and some that go right, as well. After some more tutelage, you’re thrown into the action to use some of the sport’s more advanced techniques, KERS and DRS, without crashing into the other newbies.
Even if you’ve played previous F1 games, it’s a nice refresher on how everything works, and what improvements have been made this year. Codemasters has polished up pretty much everything, and then there are the changes implemented to the sport over the past 12 months, giving purpose to the rather spectacular 45 minute tutorial, which never really feels like one. After passing with flying colours, you’re free to start an illustrious career.
Once you’re signed by a team, you’ll have to crawl your way up to the top from the lowliest of ranks in the lengthy Career Mode. It isn’t easy, and will make you fight to shave a millisecond off your lap times, at first without success. It can all come unstuck in the blink of an eye if you misjudge a corner by the slightest of margins or momentarily lose concentration. It’s all so easy to toil away for ten laps to make up just two places, only to lose all that hard work and end up stranded at the back from a mistake that’s corrected within a fraction of a second.
If you’re less concerned about playing 100 percent by the real world rules, the limited rewind feature is magnificent. It allows you to rewind and fast-forward your current lap to find the perfect moment from where you can make it all right again. Once depleted, however, that’s it for the race, so use them wisely.
Outside of the Career Mode, the Proving Grounds is where most of the fun is to be found. It houses the time trial modes and offers you more freedom to play with the teams and cars that you admire. It’s complemented nicely by Championship Mode, another new addition that sees you race against six of the current F1 champions. While Career Mode takes a serious commitment as a formula one simulator, the Proving Grounds and Championship Mode offer just as much fun in more bite-size gaming sessions.
The F1 vehicles handle much the same as in previous years, but feel a little more polished. You’ll need to keep concentration whilst racing at breakneck speeds as a small lapse in concentration will see you spin-out into a wall and perhaps even flagged for dangerous driving if you attempt a ridiculous 180 turn after veering into the gravel. I wish that was only a one time thing. Sliding around and wheel spin looks cool, but it will totally shred your tires, and that gravel detour will ruin any grip they had left. Newcomers and rusty veterans will benefit from an array of driver assists, namely the line and break recommendations, but also traction control and auto-breaks to get you into the swing of things.
Everything looks good without being noticeably amazing. Damage in particular is still underwhelming and the least realistic part of the package. However, rumours suggests that licensing may be to blame, and that we may never see full damage. Meanwhile the presentation isn’t overly exciting, but it gets the job done.
The Final Verdict
F1 2012 takes you through its learning curve with a rather ingenious tutorial under the guise of a new mode. From there it’s challenging and will punish the smallest of mistakes, but has some more accessible game modes if you want to drop in for a quick race. Formula One fans will not be disappointed, and with a wealth of content, there’s plenty to keep you entertained until F1 2013 is actually released in 2013.
By Ben Salter