In the past few years Formula One has continued to shine in both the competitive arena and the video games industry. The action on the track has lead to some fascinating races and overall championship victories and thanks to guys at Codemasters, fans have been able to replicate this through their own TV screens. For F1 2012, Codemasters are hoping to continue this streak.
Jumping straight into the action, F1 2012 kicks off with a new tutorial which will help to gauge drive ability, but also get people used to driving an F1 car again. Here, you'll get to pick one of the lower-grade teams and be put through your paces. It'll tackle the basics, such as acceleration and braking, but also help to explain about proper cornering and how to deal with different weather conditions. At the end, you'll need to hone everything you've learnt into one final push.
Once that's out of the way, F1 2012 is at your mercy. You've got the classic Career Mode, but there's also Season Challenge and Champions Mode. Career is as thorough as ever, letting you experience as much of what F1 has to offer as you want. This includes all of the Practice and Qualifying sessions, and of course, the races themselves. Compared to F1 2011, this mode isn't a whole lot different, it's very much a case of "same old, same old". It's a shame, because there's a lot more that could be expanded on here, and it means that the racing is still the only thing worth getting excited about.
For those who want to cut out a bit of the fat, Season Challenge offers a suitable happy medium. It condenses the entire experience down into quick bursts. Gone are the Practice and Qualifying sessions - they're replaced by a single one-shot qualification. You have one lap to set your best time and that's it. Following on from this you go straight into the race, which on the default setting is 5 laps.
One of the cool things about this mode is that it's quite easy to change team. As always, you will start off with one of the teams that helps to make up the numbers, but right at the start you get to select a rival to pit yourself against. Beat them in two races and you'll be offered the chance to join their team. It's all very reminiscent of Formula One games from the olden days, such as Super Monaco GP.Compared to the regular Career Mode, this snapshot of the F1 season takes a fraction of the time to complete. It's the perfect mode for those who don't necessarily have the time to commit, as it's still very rewarding.
Champions Mode is new to the resurgent F1 video game franchise, but is quite an old concept. Allowing you to square off against six world champions, it acts as F1 2012's scenario mode. You have five laps to try and beat one of the champions in an area where they are strongest.
When it comes to the racing, fans of the sport won't be disappointed. Codemasters has taken the time to make the physics even more robust, although in some cases this might cause some frustration for the more casual gamers out there. One area where things have been altered in the most dramatic fashion is the weather. Whereas in previous games racing in wet conditions was still reasonably comparable to dry, in F1 2012 it's like night and day. Even if you're very comfortable with your knowledge of a certain track, the introduction of rainy conditions saps that confidence right away. This will be great for enthusiasts who want an accurate simulation, but it's a bit of a pain for those who aren't quite at that level.
Each race will requite different tweaking and it's still very impressive just how different you can make the car drive by playing around in the garage. The stock setting will often be good enough for most, but if you want to push for the top of the leaderboard in the Time Trial mode, you'll have to venture into the garage at some point.
When looking at other areas of presentation outside the handling of the cars, the graphics have been given a bit of a tweak this time around - especially for the wet races. Unless you have some clear track ahead of you, visibility is very difficult and it gives you a whole new level of respect for the drivers who have to go through that scenario in reality.
F1 2012 is another solid game which continues to show Formula One in the best possible light. With refinements to accessibility and the game's visuals, there will be plenty to keep fans happy. It's a little disappointing that Career Mode hasn't been expanded upon in a more convincing way, but Season Challenge and Champions Mode do help to offset this.
|The improved weather effects.|
|Seeing changes in the garage convert into better lap times.|
|Career Mode hasn't been changed much.|
|Wet races can be tough, perhaps too tough.|
|It feels like this might be the last year where things can continue at this pace before it gets stale.|