Codemasters won the rights to the F1 game franchise in 2008 after Sony’s contract ran out. The first game in 2009 was nothing major, but 2010 saw a massive change in the series. The obvious change was the amazing graphics aswell as a fantastic new weather system which allowed a race to be wetter in some parts of the tracks, than others.
2011 followed a year later with even more changes; The new DRS and KERS, massively improved steering, a possibility of a red flag during races and a cool new feature, the introduction of a Safety Car.
Codies had a lot to live up to for the 2012 edition and they lived up to it. . . . Kind of.
A notable observation is the improvement in graphics, again. Another fantastic introduction is the first lap carnage. In 2011, The cars would be slow off the line and go into the first few corners in a nice neat line to allow the player to make massive gains at the start, which was very unrealistic and not enjoyable. But in 2012, the cars are all over the track, you can’t get as much an advantage coming off the line, and there is utter pandemonium into the first few corners. Although, if you are good enough, you can jump from the back to the middle of the pack, you will have a very hard time of not being passed by the faster cars. For example, If you are driving for Marussia, You will be swamped by the Sauber’s, Force India’s and the Toro Rosso’s in the mid-field.
Another great feature is the penalties. If you overtake someone off track, you will not be automatically given a time penalty, but you have a time limit that comes up on the screen which gives you time to give back the place before the time runs out, or you are given a penalty.
Practice has been scaled down from the usual 3 practice sessions to just onepractice session in a weekend. Steve Hood, creative designer at codemasters made the final call and based his decision on the fact that there was nothing to entice players to do practice and he decided to remove two sessions until he could develop something to improve practice.
One of the biggest new features in F1 2012 is the Young Driver’s Test in Abu Dhabi which enables you to drive with either Red Bull, McLaren or Ferrari where you do various tests such as straight line tests, KERS and DRS tests among other tests, ending in an overall evaluation. I was really excited for this part of the game but completely let down as it proved to be no more than a simple tutorial for those who have never played F1 before. But, it is somewhat important as, how you do in the test determines how many teams offer you a seat.
Another new feature is the Championship mode where you challenge all 6 World Champions on the grid on particular tracks over 10 races where you have to beat your rival in each race which ends in a race where you compete against all 6 Champions at once. This is a great feature and I have to say that although it is good fun, I wouldn’t spend too long playing it; Career mode is better.
One of the biggest controversies of the game is the removal of tire scaling. If a player is playing a 25% race, then they will not have scaled wear and, theoretically, they could run the option tyre for all but one lap (As you still have to run both tire compounds in a dry race). However, on my last point, I’ll explain why it’s still a good idea to keep a split strategy.
The car handling is something that has been hugely changed since 2011. I would havesaid ’The car handling has Improved’, but it hasn’t been improved. It has been changed. Now, You have to be very careful going around corners and have to wait until your are fully out of the corners before applying full power. This is a pity as cornering used to be where I caught my speed in a slower car but this advantage is now completely gone. Along with cornering, you will also notice the change in the steering when going down a straight. A slight twitch on the controller has a bigger effect now and if you over correct yourself, you’ll end up wobbling down the straight. Something I’m not hugely happy with. Altogether, I’m not happy with the changes to steering but, don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible.
On the whole, I think the game has been improved. Better graphics, more realistic racing, and great new features over-weigh the bad handling and the tire wear. I’d give the game 8/10 and would really recommend it to any F1 fan. But don’t worry if you don’t like this new edition, Codemasters are treating us to two F1 games this year. F1 Race Stars, the Mario-Kart of F1, is being released in November and promises to be great fun.
What’s your impression? Please leave a comment below with your opinion on the new F1 game.
By Ben Sweeney