F1 2012 brings forth the best simulation of the Formula 1 competition to date, providing a great challenge for veterans of the series with outstanding AI and some of the best wheel-to-wheel action of any racer, period. Codemasters have placed an emphasis on racing action this year, providing the player with many new modes to allow them to jump into the action straight away. This is a thinking man’s racer; the difficult AI will punish you if you do not stay on the racing line, or hit the right mark on a turn. This becomes one of F1 2012’s greatest strengths, yet also one of its biggest weaknesses, as newcomers may be overwhelmed when race day arrives.
New players to the series will appreciate the new Young Driver Test mode, set in Abu Dhabi. This mode showcases the many aspects that will become second nature when racing, introducing the KERS (Kinetic Recovery System) and DRS (Drag Reduction System) systems to users. KERS allows your car to gain a small amount of power once during each lap, which can be critical to moving into winning contention, while DRS adjusts your rear wing to decrease drag and increase speed. F1 Also provides many driving assists to be allowed during racing; however these aids have a negative effect as some will affect your ability of being competitive. Along with 2012’s slick menu’s, first timers should be able to navigate fairly easy.
F1 2012 looks absolutely gorgeous, the beautiful Monaco circuit flourishes, the cars themselves look as sleek as ever. Though the backgrounds of circuits look worse for wear, however you will be driving too fast to realize or even notice. This game doesn’t shy away from the fact it is a hardcore racing simulation, there is a very steep learning curve for those who want to have a fun experience with the game. Don’t expect an easy showing, as your tires may be spending more time on the grass then firmly placed on the racing line. When you do get used to the simulation controls, the game excels. Wheel-to-wheel actions feels amazing, the roaring sound of your engine, the subtle down gear changes makes the audio here phenomenal. With such challenging AI, even when you have mastered the controls, the game will always provide a great challenge.
Time attack and Time Trial are included once more, these modes set you times to beat on various races earning you medals as you cut time off the best laps. These modes will satisfy the hardcore racer wanting to tests their talents against some challenging times, though feel like an afterthought in comparison to the other modes. Champions Mode is one of the latest additions to the series, allowing the player to compete in 6 unique challenges against current racing Formula 1 champions. These challenges involve historic moments surrounding that certain champion, once they are all defeated you will face the ultimate test against all 6 drivers in a 7 car race on the new American circuit, in Austin Texas. Season Mode slams you right into the action, with 1 shot qualifying and 10 races all containing 5 laps. Here you are given the option to select a rival, beat their position in 2-outta-3 races and their team will offer you a contract. It is a very simplistic premise, which allows the fun of racing without the in-depth details of Career Mode.
Career Mode is F1 2012’s pride and joy, offering you the ability to create your own driver, start from a small racing team and climb through the ranks to become a racing legend. You will be given small tasks during each race weekend, from such things as out qualify your team mate, to moving up through the pack on race day. These challenges are a nice addition, especially when you first begin your career as the starting cars lack the pace to really challenge for victory regularly. The mode is given a good amount of depth, with stats of your performances being found within the menus, the game will always direct you to the next point of interest easily. The presentation is left to be desired as the news clippings and bland emails used to describe race performances, could have definitely been given some work. Career Mode offers a robust racing experience, easily the shining star in this racing package.
Racing in F1 2012 excels, yet the entire race feels slightly weird. The lack of commentators calling the race is definitely noticed, this leaves the game feeling empty during races as you will only hear from your pit crew every so often. When you do pull off a victory however, you will be left wanting; there is literally no emphasis on your victory. Coming from back row of the grid to first place I was given nothing more than a small 20 second cut scene of my driver receiving a handshake. After such an intense race and the adrenaline pumping, this completely took me out of the moment, no after race champagne, no celebration and no interviews. This doesn’t replicate the aftermath of a Grand Prix and left me disappointed.
This is not just a single player affair, as splitscreen co-op play is offered in on-on-one duels or in full grid races. You will also be able to gain some more challenge when you take your racing online, allowing Quick 3 Lap Races, 25% Races and a Full Grand Prix. Finding a match in anything other than Quick Race is almost unheard of, there just isn’t enough people venturing online. The races themselves felt great, never experiencing any lag to speak of. Though be prepared for a chaotic race start, as many online will aim to take your car out at the first corner.
Formula 1 2012 is a great racer, nothing rivals the intensity of close racing through the tunnel in Monaco, or the mad scramble to find the smallest gap at race start. Providing some great AI, 2012 will always provide a challenge during every race. New racers however will be left scratching their heads as they constantly spin out or barely keep up with their rivals. The learning curve is very steep, but those willing to invest their time will be in for a great representation of F1 racing. Though lack of commentators and the almost non-existent emphasis on your victories, may take you out of the experience. Those looking for their yearly F1 gaming fix should definitely rev up their engines and take a look at the quality experience on this year’s podium. So what are you waiting for? GO! GO! GO!
Jamie Briggs is now a legend in Formula 1…The game :( He also runs Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and his videos on YouTube.