Codemasters deliver an intense simulation of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship with their latest instalment of the video game franchise recently. F1 2012 is available in stores now for the Xbox 360 and features all the official cars, drivers and circuits to get your heart beat racing in an enduring tournament…
Immediately after selecting your required difficulty level depending upon how confident you are as a driver – and if you’re up for a hefty challenge, your task is to pass a Driver Test in Abu Dhabi with one of the available licensed Academies to inevitably win a signing for your gaming Formula One career. Spread out over an in-game 2 day period, the Driver Test covers the basics required to play the game properly. This includes straight line tests, Hairpin’s, KERS and DRS system checks, wet weather racing and completed with a final evaluation before hitting the main options modes. It is essentially a tutorial, but none the less a means to unlocking more Achievements all the same even if it isn’t needed for the hardcore racing drivers out there.
The Main Menu consists of Quick Race, Multiplayer, Career, Proving Grounds, MY F1, VIP Pass and for the first time, RaceNet Options. As you’d expect from Quick Race it does exactly what it says on the tin (or screen in this case) , you select from one of the twelve licensed F1 teams and then choose your favourite driver. I selected the Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes team and was able to choose between Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button – finally in tweaking the Race Settings I was able to vary the laps, weather, camera and participation levels before having the ability to choose my favourite Grand Prix course – and it had to be Monaco!
Multiplayer allows you to choose from three options, Xbox LIVE for online racing against other players connected to LIVE, Split Screen for two player local games, and System Link sessions. Unfortunately despite a fee to play multiplayer games over Xbox LIVE already with a Gold subscription – F1 is another one of those games that requires an Online Pass just play online and comes in the box with all new retail copies, or if buying used live in hope the code is unused or else you would have to buy a pass at the Xbox LIVE Marketplace menu in-game. Using the online pass you will be able to play a 2 player Co-Op Championship and up to 16 player races online adding longevity if you’ve tired of your Career – plus any title without online gaming doesn’t really feel complete with today’s technology!
Career Mode, the chances are that you will spend most of your time here than anywhere else as you progress through the World Championship and all twenty real world Grand Prix circuits – or hunt down the FIA World Championship title in just 10 races with Season Challenge mode. You’ll be assigned an Agent who will handle all your affairs, send you emails and manage your media briefings throughout your career which is all displayed on your Career Hub. You’ll spend a lot of time managing your options and so getting familiar with the Career Hub is good idea before you start any races; as your Race Calendar, Contract Offers, Standings and Team Mates will all be visually displayed.
Depending upon your difficulty level, you’re going to be in for quite a long Formula One Season as there are a total of 20 calendar race events from around the worldwide Grand Prix circuits. You will start out with just a few unlocked that you must complete before being able to unlock others to progress just as previous years based on your racing performance. Additionally, for the first time in the franchise on Xbox 360, game changing dynamic weather is in play as localised weather can significantly change your circuit conditions as you race. Inevitably though being a racing franchise, Career mode doesn’t really offer anything new when compared to past seasons of the game – it’s mostly the same tracks, but all racing cars now have improved physics and suspension handling so that realism is greater improved. The major difference I can see with F1 2012 is that is aims to entice and please new players with lots of tutorials on how to race the cars, handle them and improve your performance as you progress up the ranks. It’s not just about getting “stuck in”, but about getting it right, and then trying…and trying again. More often than not you are guided and spoken to throughout on how to perform well on each of the tracks and change your racing style – it’s very adaptive, and intuitive. If you’ve always been a bit crap on F1 in previous years, at least in F1 2012 you’ll be taught on where you’re going wrong and how to improve.
Offering up more gameplay options than just online and Career modes, Proving Grounds in F1 2012 opens up an additional Champions Mode, Time Attack and Time Trial Modes. Champions Mode will test your limits as your objective is to catch and overtake many of the world’s greatest racing drivers from Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, and even Michael Schumacher in the mix. Both Time Attack and Time Trial modes are to test your endurance and speed unlocking medals for your best performance.
Visually, a video game racer has never looked so great until now. With F1 2012, everything is so polished, bright, shiny and stunning replicated car models that really are quite impressive. Gameplay wise there are a few hiccups because it’s not the easiest form of pick up and play racers, but it’s easily the most enjoyable, realistic F1 racer to date on the Xbox 360 and likely to be the one to entice more newcomers than any of its predecessor’s. Codemasters have done a cracking job this year, but if you own all the others then it’s a pretty predictable experience just presented in a new graphical format with better handling on the cars.
Looks great, plays great – but a niche market and aimed for the fans only.