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F1 2012 – The Verdict

F1 2012 – The Verdict

There comes a time where everyone feels the need for a little more excitement in their life, a little more danger. That person may join the army or bet their life earnings on black. For me extreme sports are where I get my kicks, and nothing is more extreme than the high-speed and precision of Formula One. Problem is that it’s notably hard to learn how to control a F1 car, let alone ever dream of becoming a professional driver. It can take years upon years of dedication and perseverance. Lucky for me Codemasters have just released F1 2012, and at the touch of a button I can be in control of my very own powerfully tuned behemoth. That settles that then.

With this being my first ever outing with a Formula One game I wont be comparing it to any past games, all opinions will be freshly formed. And with that I’m ready to begin my ascension to greatness in the seat of a monster.

The first thing I notice is how great everything looks. The graphical style is very slick, the menus are easy to navigate and simplistic, but at the same time offer everything you need in terms of information. The only thing that seems a tad out-of-place is the loading screen music which honestly sounds like it should be in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

But that’s enough about menus let’s get into the real content, the features and how the game actually plays. Features are something that this game is clearly not short on and there are a number that are new to this years release. The first you will encounter is the Young Driver Test, essentially your introduction to the game and career as a driver. During this two-day testing session you will cover the basics of car handling, using KERS and DRS and racing in wet conditions. You can also free drive round the track if the short tests are not enough for you. As a newbie to the Formula One games, this hands on introduction served as a great way to get me used to the feel of the car and how it handles. I would go as far as to say it left me satisfied that I could make some kind of an impact in qualifying for the first proper race. The video sections did at times feel a little condescending, but generally the YDT captures what I think the feel of testing a car as a newcomer would actually be like.

A couple of minor issues I can foresee are that for veterans of the game or anyone who generally just knows a lot about Formula One, this inescapable process before getting into the main season may seem a little grating. Also Yas Marina, the location of choice for the YDT is not exactly the nicest looking or most captivating of courses in my opinion, and so makes the YDT a little less exciting than it should and could be a potential put off any newcomers.

Season Challenge is the second of the new features I will highlight in this years game and where I found myself spending most of my time in single player. Season Challenge is a shortened version of Career with a ten race season, one day qualifying and five lap races. This short burst of intense racing is brilliantly addictive and has a great arcadey feel to it. Whereas you might expect to spend a few hours going through full qualifying and one race day in Career, you could easily complete Season Challenge in a couple of afternoons. It can also serve as a warm up for Career if that is your ultimate goal, helping you learn some of the tracks and compete in proper racing situations.

Career mode itself is where the real test of your skills begins. With only six teams available to you as a rookie driver (Marussia, HRT, Caterham, Toro Rosso, Force India and Williams), be prepared for middle of the pack scraps as the fight for every second counts. Perform above standards and other teams will take notice. They can even offer you a contract mid-season, but don’t expect the offers to come easy as the learning curve at this stage is huge. Being in control of so many features can seem a little daunting at first, but at the same time setting all the driving assists on takes away the enjoyment of the game. I personally started the season with a fair few assists on and removed them as I felt more comfortable with the controls although I still have major problems racing in wet conditions.

Champions mode is the final of the new features that I’ll be talking about in this review and yet another great addition to the game. This mode puts you in different racing situations against the current crop of driving champions, with certain race aims in mind. For example in the first challenge you are asked to catch up with and overtake your team-mate Raikkonen, he has older Primes while you have a fresh set of Option tyres and there are a number of cars in between you and him. You have three laps in which to overtake him before the end of the race and all normal rules and penalties will affect your final position. This is another mode that caters to the arcadey racers with more short bursts of gameplay that feel really satisfying when you pull off the objectives asked. While passing each task and earning a medal may be fairly easy, pushing those medals to gold at the hardest level is certainly not. This mode packs a lot of fun initially but can soon get a little tiring if you’re struggling on the higher difficulties.

With all these single player features covered I’m sure you’re wondering just what the online multiplayer is all about. Multiplayer consists of two sections, full twenty-four player races in different modes such as Sprint (three laps), and Endurance (25% of full race) and the second and definitely more sensible option Co-op Championship. It’s not that the full multiplayer races are not good fun, it’s just that you’re never going to be able to take the race seriously. There’s always some nutter crashing into everyone and everything, people with more skill and less skill than you making for very hectic driving conditions, and quite a lot of people who either quit, are DQ’d, or lose connection half way through a race, leaving only a handful of the twnety-four that began. The Co-op Championship on the other hand is brilliant. Working as a team towards the constructor’s championship builds experience as you are both able to talk over tactics and handling tips. If you have the chance, being able to share the full season with a dedicated racing friend makes it all that more enjoyable and is definitely something that should at least be attempted.

Controller vs. Steering Wheel is one of the topics I was most asked about when I covered the demo earlier in the month and just for the sake of this review (and any future racing games I buy) I decided to go out and buy one. I initially started playing with a controller and so will start off with my feelings on how that fared. I found the handling to be great once I had gotten used to all the button controls, though at high speeds the analogue sticks felt a bit jerky and this made hitting the apex difficult at times. Overall the controller was great to use and I had no problems completing competitive, although slightly jerky lap times. As this was the first time I had ever used a wheel for my console I initially found it very hard. I was overcompensating for turns making my driving even jerkier than the controller and found myself occasionally taking my eyes off the screen to press buttons. After a while I got used to the wheel and adjusted the settings to my liking. Turns were smoother and I felt I had better grip of things. Whether over time this would become better than my controller handling it’s hard to say but after years of gaming with a controller and not a wheel, it still didn’t quite sit right for me. Another problem and something that I’m quite frankly confused about is that Microsoft seem to have not included any shoulder buttons on their Speed Wheel, meaning that a re-mapping of the controls is needed and some features like camera control are just missed out on altogether when using the wheel. Personally I would stick with a controller in this case as it fares very well with this game. It also took me an awfully long time to decide on which wheel to choose, as many of them are very expensive or not suitable for F1 gaming.

To sum up my feelings for F1 2012, it’s been a very enjoyable ride but the learning curve to get to the stage I’m at (which is still pretty amateur) was very steep. There are plenty of features, that cater for both the hardcore simulation player and the more casual player, that will keep you entertained and attempt to increase your skill in the game. Online, while fun, was disappointing as getting a good clean race was almost impossible unless you filled a whole lobby with your friends, and only having a couple of game types seemed a little shallow. If your asking the question of whether to buy a wheel for this game or not I would suggest not as the controller does a great job. There’s masses of single player content and replay value by taking on different skill levels or attempting a season with a different team.

The Verdict – Headshot

Platforms Available – PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Platforms Reviewed – Xbox 360

Please check this post for details on our scoring system.

F1 2012 Hands On First Impressions

F1 2012 Hands On First Impressions

Being a fan of Formula One and wanting to play a F1 game are two entirely different things. In my opinion the games that I have seen in the past haven’t delivered the excitement and tension I get when watching the races on TV, and don’t convey the same feel of complete precision and total control that the drivers have over their extremely powerful cars. That is until now. I’ve been following all the press releases and developer diaries from Codemasters game this year with a close eye and they seem to have been making all the right changes. Introducing some great new features such as the Young Driver Test that feature in the real F1 world, brings a new sense of realism and for the first time an eagerness to play a F1 game. The following is my first impressions after playing today’s demo release from Codemasters F1 2012.

After first setting up your character the demo puts you in a MacLaren car ready for the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi. The YDT goes through all the basics of controlling the car, things like cornering, acceleration, breaking and how to use features like KERS and DRS. You can also free drive round the whole track in wet or dry conditions to test different settings. The full YDT is not available in the demo as the whole second day of the test is missed out. During the second day you can expect more performance testing, learning about tyre conservation, systems tests and wet weather tests.

The YDT seems like a good way to ease in anyone who hasn’t played any F1 games before like myself, but could become a little grating for any veterans of the series or anyone who already knows a lot about F1. The videos provided during the test are informative but actually getting out and trying it all is where the real fun is and makes the video sections seem a bit pointless. Simple things like being able to drive your car out the pit lane and into the starting position would make the experience all that more realistic, and while you can view this if you choose, you are unable to control the car until out on the track proper.

Moving onto the second part of the demo and I’m now placed in the Williams team for qualification in Monza. There is a lot of useful information in the build up to the qualifying and race itself which I like a lot, adding to the build up of your qualifying lap and the race itself. You can receive mail from your team about your performance and any goals they might have for you in the race ahead, view weather conditions, and watch a Hot Lap video with commentary. The Hot Lap videos are a very good idea that are unfortunately not delivered in the best of ways. A lot of information is thrown your way in just a few minutes and there is no way to pause or rewind the video to take another look. It would also be nice if the video could be viewed in full screen instead of half screen with the track layout in the other half, a mini map on a full screen would be much more effective.

Hitting the apex is very tricky when using a controller.

Car tuning and customizations are something that have been restricted for the demo but look to be very in-depth if they are all available in the main game. Before a race you can alter all kinds of aspects of the car such as front and rear wing aerodynamics, suspension height, tyre selection, gear changes and how much fuel you have on board at any one time. You also have all the usual driving assist options such as ABS, manual or auto gear changes and breaking assists. Interestingly you can also choose a rival driver for the season allowing you to set your own goals of beating the driver in a race and in the season as a whole.

Once setting my fastest lap and placing second on the grid (must have been beginners luck), it was time for the real race. For the purposes of the demo you play in Season Mode which is a shortened version of the full career mode. The season is ten races long and only five laps per race. It started off well, handling was a little unstable as I was using a controller and so hitting the perfect apex and sticking to the race line was a little tricky but quickly getting used to how KERS and DRS worked gave me a valuable advantage and I pulled in front in my first lap. Pulling ahead of the pack by a few seconds I was starting to get a bit ahead of myself and pushed my speed too much, making a few mistakes. Luckily the Flashback feature allows you to rewind the race a certain distance before your mistake and let you try again. This may seem like cheating but fortunately you can only do this four times a race and I found myself having used all four Flashbacks by the time I was on the fourth lap.

With just over one lap to go I messed up again and found myself in the gravel with no way of altering my mistake. Pushing back onto the track it got even worse as I almost caused a collision with Vettel and was awarded a time penalty. Now back in sixth place I pushed my KERS and refocused for the final stretch. Gaining one place during this lap I noticed that not having any music or much team chat over the radios was a little strange. The noise of the engines and the odd screech of tires was all that was audible and realistic as this may be, over the course of forty or fifty laps of a full race this could become very tiresome. I finished the race in fifth place but was pushed to twenty-first due to my time penalties.

Racing without a proper steering wheel is the biggest grumble about the racing control. The various customisations I could make to the handling and assists helped but ultimately this would be a totally different game when played with a wheel which I don’t have. The game immersion is really good giving you lots of information in the build up to the race and allowing you to adjust accordingly. As I mentioned before this could be improved by small things like allowing you to control your car when leaving the pit and lining up for the race start or being apart of the pre race interviews that you see on the BBC. The menus and overall layout is clean and well explained and made making any adjustments easy. Equally if you’re not fussed with all the pre race waiting around and just want to get out there you could set the game to easy and use quick set up options.

The F1 2012 demo was played on the Xbox 360 and is available to PC and PS3 owners over the next couple of days. The full game release will be on September 21st in Europe.

Codemasters Release New F1 2012 Screenshots Ahead Of Today’s Demo Release

Codemasters Release New F1 2012 Screenshots Ahead Of Today’s Demo Release

Codemasters F1 2012 demo is out today for all Xbox 360 owners, and I for one can’t wait to try it out. The game is set to be the most realistic of the series with a host of new attributes that feature in the real world of Formula 1. That feeling of driving your first F1 car, setting your fastest lap, and lining up on the grid for your first race must truly be amazing and Codemasters game is probably the closest most of us will ever get to taking control of an F1 car.

The demo allows us to try out two of the new features included in this years game, the Young Driver Test mode and the first race of Season Challenge at Italy’s Monza track. Codemasters have released new screenshots of Monza and news of a competition with more details to follow on their Froums.

The demo is due for release for PC owners via Steam tomorrow with EU PS3 owners having to wait until Wednesday.

If you’ve tried out the demo let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

On Board F1 2012 – Circuit of the Americas Full Lap

On Board F1 2012 – Circuit of the Americas Full Lap

It might be tricky for anyone keen to glance at the currently unfinished Circuit of Americas track, due for it’s maiden race in November of this year. Luckily for us Codemasters creative director Stephen Hood has already driven round the track using next months final, pre-launch version of Codemasters F1 2012 game. Being a fan of the sport but having never played an F1 game, I for one am excited to see the games progress.

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