F1 2012 Review (Xbox 360/Playstation 3/PC)
It’s easy to pass off F1 2012 as an iterative sequel and be done with it, but deep down there is a hint of maturity in the third release of the series. Although the core mechanic remains the same, Codemasters have tightened the screws and added enough extra content to make F1 2012 more than a simple racing game with short term appeal and try to extend your knowledge of a sport they clearly adore.
The core mode of Codemaster’s F1 series has always been the career mode and while there are fringe benefits littered around the edges, this is still the case for 2012. In career mode you progress through a drivers career (preset, or of your own design) from the first steps into Formula One, to lifting the title at the end of the season.
Every race and driver of the Formula One 2012 season is on show in great form and as always, F1 2012 is a great way to showcase new circuits yet to be reached in the actual race calendar to fans of the sport. The driving feels crisp and reactive under your control as the car slides and stumbles across the circuit begging for that extra grip.
The changing feel throughout a race, as your fuel depletes or your tires degrade, is excellent and is an added challenge if you start to race longer than the minimum laps. Plotting your pit stops and trying to make your tires last longer than the competition becomes a dangerous game of cat and mouse as you juggle speed with efficiency.
After the season you’re probably going to be looking for a new challenge and there is now multiple modes to fill your time with, the best of which is Champions Mode. This new mode pits you against the best drivers in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Sometimes you’ll have three laps to gain 6 places and overtake your rival, while in others you will just have to hold your position in the pouring rain. It’s an extremely difficult challenge with the standing water puddles on the track that send you spinning off into the grass.
It’s worth noting that the water is excellently modeled and really changes the way your car handles in corners and straights. Overall this is a great feature and does more than offer you a challenge, it strives to make you a better driver and so, in a way, is training you to think different and react to certain situations in differing ways. This will have you considering everything you’ve achieved to this point and will make you a better overall driver within the game as you begin to react fluidly to changing conditions.
Some of these challenges will pass you by and you’ll consider yourself a true legend within F1 and some will infuriate you beyond belief but that is the true beauty of the mode, constantly challenging and allowing you to feel great while always lurking in the back, ready to take that swelling pride straight from you the moment you feel you have everything covered.
Multiplayer offers a different challenge from anything else in the product and, as always with this sort of thing, it depends on the group that gathers as to what kind of experience you will have. In some cases you’re grouped with like-minded individuals that go out to race the best times they can and put in the best overall race possible in hopes of winning yet, other races were full of people determined to destroy their cars as they bump across the curbs, crash into other cars and try to win by default as they’re the only car running at the end of it all.
While it’s good F1 2012 caters to both audiences it would have been nice to see something defining the two. Perhaps a way to enter what kind of race you want to have or a way to determine what kind of online driver you are. Either way it didn’t matter, the multiplayer is extremely fun and fast paced much like the rest of the game; modes are split and offer a few laps to race or a full grand prix if that’s what you’re looking for, which will allow up to 16 players to line up against you on the grid.
The great thing about the multiplayer is that it is prominent in most modes in the game. If you’re looking to play through a season but don’t want to do it alone then you can drag a friend in with you and go through the Co-Op campaign which will see you take both spots in a Formula One team, not only vying for personal glory but also for the Constructors Championship come the end of the season.
F1 2012 also offers a Young Drivers Test, which is a simple way of teaching you about Formula One and the mechanics outside of simply hammering down on the accelerator. This will allow people unfamiliar with the sport to see how best to put a Formula One car through a chicane and how to get the best speed out of a lap.
It will teach you the KERS and DRS systems which exist on a Formula One car that allow extra speed that will have you racing like a professional within an hour. Season Challenge offers a shortened season with a score mechanic where you’re put to the test and expected to consistently pick a rival to battle over the season. Once you beat them you’re offered their seat at that team and so you progress through ten races trying not only to be the F1 World Champion but to also show you can beat anyone who struts around the paddock.
F1 2012 still struggles with its AI and although it is vastly improved from previous years, you will still hit the same walls you did before. Back markers may now move out of your way eventually and cars won’t directly try and nudge you off the track but once you’re in a superior car they won’t catch you after that first corner of a GP. Obviously this shouldn’t be a problem but if you’re going in for a career and starting at a minor team you set that difficulty accordingly.
Unfortunately the difficulty doesn’t scale and so what ever perfect settings you may have had for the start of your career, aren’t going to be relevant at the end. Although not a tough change it would be nice for the game to recognise this change in status and team and start ramping up the other teams abilities and performance, so you’re not running away with first position every time.
F1 2012 feels like a coming of age for Codemasters. They have built a product that doesn’t rely on a knowledge of the sport to truly enjoy and will no doubt appeal to a larger audience than the previous games. Every year they come out and make improvements to the product and in this third year they have truly stepped up to the mark and offer enough outside of the core modes to keep people interested who think F1 gets boring after 50 laps or don’t want to invest 8 hours in a career.
Options exist for the most casual or players to jump in and start having fun within minutes and that is the true strength of F1 2012. If you’ve ever dreamed about overtaking on Suzuka’s 130R or wanted to see Monte Carlo’s Grand Hotel Hairpin from the course itself then this game is for you. If you’re curious about open-wheel racing and want a game to whet your appetite then this game is going hold a lot of appeal to you too.
F1 2012 is great at shining, as a sport still growing in popularity, in a great light and shows a love for the product that was built and allows players to drive and learn at the same time.F1 2012 Review (Xbox 360/Playstation 3/PC),