Game Review: F1 2012 [Xbox 360/PS3/PC]
Every year we get our annual dose of sport games from FIFA to Madden, all of which see minor gameplay changes as well as roster updates. The F1 series is a special case though as with each game we see many adjustments to both the gameplay and game modes, and as they say, third time’s a charm.
When you first start up the game you will appear in Abu Dhabi, completing a set of tests, the Young Driver Test to be precise. This will take up to an hour to complete and you must finish it if you wish to continue to the career mode. This teaches everything that is essential to know about the sport of F1 and more importantly, how to drive an F1 car like a professional, giving you a better chance of winning races both offline and online. This is a perfect for all those players who are either new to the sport or not familiar with the driving mechanics of the game. However for people who have experience in both fields, it’s rather annoying that this test can’t be skipped, as even though it’s definitely a welcome addition, it just should have been an optional one too.
Once you get past this though, the world of F1 2012 is yours to explore and for the dedicated there are a lot of options on offer that could easily last you until the next game in the series. You have the standard Quick Race, which is great for practicing your driving. There is still the Career Mode, which puts you in the racing boots of a rookie, and you must work your way up to the top teams in nineteen races each season, this alone has the potential to provide players hours and hours of gameplay. The two interesting additions though are Season Challenge and Champions Mode. Season Challenge is basically a shorter, more compact version of Career Mode. It lasts only ten races with one-shot qualifying, whereby you only have one qualifying lap, and when it comes to race day, there are only five laps. The intriguing twist with this mode is that you pick a rival to compete against, once you pick your rival, you must beat them in position when it comes to race day. If you manage to beat them twice you will then be offered a contract for that team. It’s a nice idea that is used to quickly put you in your desired team and one that works very well.
Champions Mode is very similar to something like Tiger Challenge in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. Whereby you have to complete a series of challenges that were done in the real life version of the sport, in this case Formula One. The initial concept of it sounds great, as these were the highlight of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, problem is though there is no longevity to this mode and is over before you know it. I can see what Codemasters have attempted by bringing these new modes in, as it will attract fans of the racing genre, but Champions Mode needed more content in order for it to be a standout mode.
Co-op Championship Mode is back and is still the best addition to the multiplayer suite as quick race events still just lead to players crashing into each other, not the way that F1 races are supposed to go.
So the Modes for the most part are great, the driving on the other hand is perfection. I have played my fair share of racing games and none of them compare to the experience that can be found in the F1 franchise. The cars handle beautifully and feel precise, and the AI is very very good, for instance if you try to overtake on a corner, they will defend their position, but will back off if it’s heading to a collision. To win races you need patience, skill and consistence, if you make one mistake then the race is all over. There is the option of rewinding, but they only last so long, so your skill will determine you results in the end. Above all else though the experience offered here is as realistic as you want it to be, you want the full laps with all assists turned off and standard rules applied? Then you can do it. This is the closest that people will ever get to driving a real F1 car, it’s that good.
F1 2012 is perfect as a racing game and very good as an F1 game, it just needs the style as much as the substance of modes and gameplay. If this could be achieved in F1 2013, then you would have the definitive F1 experience, until then we have the definitive racing game of 2011.