The Formula 1 gaming community is about to get a new toy courtesy of Codemasters. F1 2012 releases on September 18 (September 21 in the UK), per Codemasters.com. The demo came out for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 gaming systems on September 10.
The company has produced F1 2010 and F1 2011, so they have become consistent contributors to the Formula 1 gaming scene.
They also produce the popular Dirt series, as well as GRID, which is due to release its long-awaited sequel in 2013, per Codemasters.com.
Those games are a bit more "pick up and play" than the F1 seres. To the developer's credit, they know that and have put measures in place to not only teach you the basics of the game, but also to inform you a bit about this aspect of auto racing.
I've been playing racing games for years and I've always found Formula 1 games the most challenging. The demo takes steps to indoctrinate you into the game at your own pace.
You can begin by simply completing the straight line test that gives you the feel of the car, its speed and break sensitivity. This is important as Formula 1 cars handle differently than any other vehicles in real life, and subsequently in a solid simulation-style video game.
This is a simple video of the basics from the F1 2012 demo:
This is an example of the Young Driver's Test, and it is essential for those that are considering playing this game for the first time.
This tutorial isn't reserved for the console game. If you follow this link to the Codemaster's website there is a tutorial/quiz on the various skills required to be a Formula 1 driver. It's surprisingly interactive and pretty unique.
If you've already played F1 games in the past then the demo also allows you to jump right in to see what's new this year.
Here's an example of more experienced gameplay:
Stars, Cars, Circuits and Tracks
F1 2012 features the big names from the 2012 FIA Formula 1 World Championship like Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button. The official cars and circuits are also represented. Licensing is key for authenticity, and F1 2012 delivers here.
There are 20 tracks included in the game. Here is a diagram of the American track in Austin, TX. Click here to see each track at the F1 2012 official website.
In the two videos below you can see a Monza and Spa-Francorchamps Hotlap.
Racing Views and Options
Several camera angles and modes of play give gamers a few options with F1 2012. On one console you can compete against a friend or chase co-op championships using split-screen views.
The online component is represented as well. You can compete against 23 other racers (16 human, eight CPU controlled) to simulate a full 24-car grid.
The Champions mode option pits you against six Drivers' World Champions as you try to complete specific challenges to complete the mode. This video details the mode more specifically:
If you're interested in simulating an abbreviated Formula 1 season, you can try Season Challenge. This mode challenges you to reach the top rankings in only 10 races.
RaceNet will be available for F1 2012, as it is for all of Codemaster's racing titles. The online app tracks and brings together your racing accomplishments in all of the company's racing games.
They are truly the kings of racing games on console systems, so this option conceptually makes sense.
Gameplay and Strategy
Codemasters aims to make you feel as much like an F1 driver as possible.
The weather concept seems to be employed in this game as much, if not more than in any other racing title before it. You'll have to make specific calls and decisions based on the conditions.
In addition to handling climate changes, gamers will also use KERS and DRS to drive more aggressively or to fend off competitors attempting to pass.
Creative Director Stephen Hood said this via the Codemaster's website:
“Significant work has gone into the physics model, particularly the suspension, which has a real sea change on the feel of the car. You can really attack the track. It’s those extra elements that make you feel like a real FORMULA ONE driver.”
This developer diary covers the control aspect in detail.
Are You In?
This game will likely still appeal primarily to hardcore Formula 1 fans. However, the demo takes some steps to try and recruit new fans. If you're not an F1 fan, and you have the space available on your hard drive, it is worth a look as a demo download.
You never know, you may find a new sport/game to pick up.
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