F1 2012 Review (Xbox 360)
Codemasters has turned their F1 games into an annual release, and F1 2012 looks to add on to the success of the first two games with new modes and the same gameplay fans have come to know.
However, the game might have used a playbook that played it too safe this year.
The dynamic weather can really alter a track and your approach to it.
For anyone who has played the previous F1 games, the handling of the cars will feel similar. That's not necessarily a bad thing as they all just seem to feel right. Going into a corner and braking simply feels smooth. With that said, it's disappointing there was no major innovation to the gameplay this year. Doing that might be difficult in a racing game where the quality is already high, but with this being the third year of an F1 game, it's something that has to be included to make the game seem new and warrant the $60 price tag.
The racing line, a fan favorite makes a return. Like in every other racing game, the racing line can be turned off. Flashbacks are also back in a Codemasters game (they were absent in DiRT Showdown). So if you ever miss a corner, or lose control, hit the Back/Select button, and it will be like it never happened. Those will come in handy if this is your first foray into the series.
Dynamic weather is a good feature, but it doesn't really come into play all that often. When it does, rain and other weather looks great on specific tracks such as Singapore, Austin and New Delhi. It also requires a whole new strategy, as the handling of the cars change drastically, as you'd expect with disparate weather conditions. Playing online, if you decide to play the sprint races, you'll never actually see the dynamic weather due to the sprint race mode being set dry events only.
The racing physics are still quite good. F1 2012 is a realistic simulation racing game, and you will get a lot of that experience. While the realism is still not completely perfect as you'll get some odd interactions between cars and sometimes the handling will feel a bit off in the corners -- the experience is a worthy one. As with most games like this, if you want the most out of it you might consider buying a racing wheel to compliment your racing experience -- just be forewarned there are issues with these controls are the present time.
The cockpit view still remains both overwhelming and amazing to look at. It also remains one of the best cockpit camera angles in any racing game. Playing in that camera angle, in which there are six in total, is by far the most fun and rewarding one.
The game features plenty of game modes to keep you entertained.
Two new modes debut this year; Young Driver Test and Champions mode will try and add some variety to the game. Champions mode sees you go head-to-head with six world champions from the 2012 season (e.g., Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button). Each driver has an objective you must achieve to move on to the next one. To defeat Hamilton, you must maintain first place without allowing him to pass you. Each objective is relatively easy, but you can choose a difficulty level prior to each one. Once you defeat all six drivers, your last goal is to defeat them all in a six-lap race. This mode gives you a challenge on medium or hard difficulty, and it gives you a break from the mundane career mode.
Young Driver Test mode will be a tutorial that will help new players get used to the handling of the cars. Codemasters really did an outstanding job with this. Videos, and numerous tests will make newcomers not feel as scared by the games controls and gameplay. The optional mode can take up to 15 minutes to complete. This will be featured prior to the career mode, so you know exactly how to play the game.
Season Challenge is essentially a shortened career mode that has you going through ten races. In this mode you'll have a rival that you will want to finish ahead in each event. After doing that in two races, you then pick another rival, and so on. Each race consists of one lap for qualifying and then the actual race. Finishing first is great and gets you more season points, but the main goal of each event is to finish ahead of your rival. This mode is for everybody: as it's short, to-the-point, and gets you right into the action.
The career mode basically remains untouched. Signing with racing teams, going from week to week, and race weekends. The new season challenge mode is in the career menu, but it's really its own separate thing. It's not that the career mode is terrible, it's just extremely prosaic. When it's your junior year with a racing franchise, it's time to introduce new features to the career.
One of the six camera angles you can choose.
16-player racing is once again featured in this year's version, and it's still pretty chaotic (in a good way). The lobby system seen in the last few DiRT games can be found in F1 2012. Sprint, endurance and grand prix are your race choices when going online. Sprint is simply a three-lap race in dry weather. Endurance is set to 25 percent of full race distance in dynamic weather and it includes one pit stop. Grand Prix is a seven-lap race in dynamic weather, it also includes a 15-minute qualifying session. Although these are the only three options available, they do enough to appease anyone wanting to play F1 2012 online. You can also do all of that via split screen or system link.
In my time in multiplayer, we had little to no issue with lag. With that said, playing online multiplayer was not all that fun or unique when compared to other simulation racers. It's good that penalties are on because you'll still have that one person try to take people out on that first corner. But if you are hit, there is really nothing to help get you back up front.
Co-op Championship allows you to compete in a season with a friend online. So instead of having to rely on an A.I. partner, you can now rely on your friend to help win that coveted trophy.
The verdict: F1 2012 is a good but not great game with the lack of innovation this year.
Codemasters does a good job at introducing you to all the controls and features the game has to offer with its new "Young Driver Test" mode. But most racing games require a low barrier of skill to play and enjoy them. F1 2012 requires more than that.
Add that with the same, bland career mode and no new gameplay features being added to move the series along and you end up with an experience that feels too familar compared to past efforts. The Season Challenge and Champions mode save the game. Even with nothing new added to the core gameplay, those two modes do a lot to make the game enjoyable.
Learning Curve: Unlike the other popular racer from Codemasters, DiRT, F1 2012 does take some time getting used to how the cars handle. The new "Young Driver Test" mode and driver assists do a good job of easing new players into the handling of the cars, but it's still not enough. It will take many hours before you're ready to take your talents online.
Control Scheme: Like most racing games, the control scheme is pretty simple. RT is your gas, while LT is your brake. The main difference here is that LB/L1 is for Kers and Y/Triangle is for rear wing (DRS).
Visuals: Without a doubt, the visuals are the best in the series. From improved lighting, to just a more polished look, F1 2012 outshines all others in the series.
Audio: Cars still sound fantastic. The race engineer does a good job at providing assistance, but he can get annoying after awhile.
Customization: You can customize how difficult the A.I. is and various other rules and driver assists. The driver assists is great for people who have never played an F1 game before. If you're into setting up a car, you can also do that before a race begins.
Value: At $60, it's hard to recommend F1 2012 to a casual fan of the series and genre. The career mode is basically the same it always was, just with better menus to navigate. The online is only intended for the hardcore fans, as trying to win a race against human players who are into this series is near impossible without enough practice and patience.
Score: 7.5 (Good)