A serious game with a newly added fun side.
So, What do you expect from a Formula 1 videogame? An alien invasion? The dead rising from their graves? A mighty sword with which to vanquish your foes? No, of course not. That would be silly. If you are a massive hardcore Formula 1 fan, you will be looking for an up to date game that features the teams and tracks from the most recent season of racing, and a chance to spend hours on end indulging in every aspect of a race weekend. For the casual fan, you may be thinking about an enjoyable burst of racing around well-known tracks with famous drivers, perhaps without such an investment of time. Either way, Codemasters have got you covered.
As the third F1 title from Codemasters, fans of the series will already know pretty much what to expect in F1 2012. We are talking about a lengthy career mode which will see the player playing through a number of seasons as they work their way up to the big teams. Each race weekend can be like a campaign by itself, with test runs, qualifying and the actual race itself, interspersed with tweaking the various aspects of your car to get that extra 1/100th of a second off your lap time. It’s all very involving, very technical and very long. This is where the real fans of the sport will spend their time, and the game will likely last them well into the next season.
With games such as these that get annual releases, I would imagine it to be difficult to know what else to add to a game that already covers all that the sport has to offer. This latest installment brings everything bang up to date with all of the drivers and teams from this year’s Formula 1 season. The tracks have also been updated to follow this years calendar, and includes the new American track in Austin, Texas. The weather effects are not only stunning, but also make for some interesting racing conditions. In fact, the visual tweaks that have been made since the last installment have left this game looking very, very nice indeed – not that the last game wasn’t a healthy dose of eyecandy to the F1 enthusiast.
Beyond the career mode, there are plenty of other options for the hardcore player. There are the various time trials to play around with, perfecting your run at a particular circuit, and of course there is plenty of online racing to be had. There is also the chance to run through the entire racing season with a buddy playing as your team mate in the two player Championship Mode, which is a real bonus.
So, the veteran F1 gamer has been catered for with everything they could expect from the latest Formula 1 game. But that is really only half of the story, as Codemasters seem intent on providing the best possible racing experience to those who don’t have the time, or the inclination, to spend hours perfecting their racing lines in a highly competent simulation. Not that there isn’t plenty there already to make the game easier for newcomers, there are a multitude of assists that can be turned on to shift the game away from simulation and towards arcade. But Codemasters have gone one step further and included three new modes within the game, aimed at the more casual racer and those who want to improve.
First up is the Young Driver Test. The perfect starting point for anyone who has just picked up the game, this mode acts as a fairly enjoyable tutorial. Taking place on the Abu Dhabi track, players will find themselves learning the basics of being an F1 driver, dealing with everything from racing lines to the technical Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and the Drag Reduction System (DRS). It’s all very “to the point” and even veteran F1 gamers may pick up a tip or two here, so it is recommended for everyone.
Next is a handy option for those who find the full-on, multi-season career mode a little foreboding. Season Challenge is like a bite-size career that sees the player racing much shorter races as they try to out do a rival across three races to advance on the board. With only ten races in a season, and only five laps to a race, this mode is plenty of fun without having to put your life on hold.
The final new mode offers some objective-based gameplay as the player takes on some big names. Champions Mode will face the player off against six famous F1 drivers – Alonso, Button, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Schumacher and Vettel – with the player having to complete certain challenges to progress. This is something quite different to everything else, but is a welcome addition and only goes to pad out an already content-filled package.
F1 games have always been rather serious affairs aimed at the serious F1 gamer. F1 2012 still provides that serious edge, but the edge has been softened by the inclusion of more content for the newcomer. It is a great move by Codemasters and one that I hope they will expand on with future games. F1 2012 is a great F1 racing package that will appeal to a much larger audience thanks to the additions. It is also bloody good fun.