Codemasters doesn't just want to have you play F1 2012, they want to educate you on many of the nuances of the sport. No matter the level of interest in Formula One racing, there is a logical starting point for you in F1 2012.
If you're brand new to the sport, and wouldn't know Sebastian Vettel from Jimmie Johnson, the Young Driver's Test is for you.
If you're already a seasoned Formula One fan, and this release was one of the most anticipated video games of the year for you, there are options to jump right into the action.
Here's my take on my F1 2012 experience.
Graphics & Background
In still shots the environments, background and overall racing scene look sharp. In the actual race with all car models in motion there is a slight downgrade. This happens primarily because there is no movement in the crowd.
This keeps the game from being on the highest level visually.
The game does an excellent job depicting different weather conditions, and the car models look pretty. However, in this category it is fair to compare the visuals to other racing titles—even those also published by Codemasters.
I'd say F1 2012 isn't quite on the level of the Dirt series this year.
That said, it is still a satisfactory performance, as visuals aren't exactly where this title is aiming to make its most significant mark.
Graphics & Background Rating: 7.75 out of 10
Driving & Realism
Depending on the skill level you select, you can get a very realistic Formula One driving experience. If you keep the difficulty settings modest the game plays more like an arcade driving title, with Formula One personality.
That could be an attractive option for novice drivers that love the Formula One look and culture. The aforementioned Young Driver's Test teaches you the controls and the details you need to appropriately operate your vehicle.
Here is a video of the first 20 minutes of gameplay, including a couple of nasty crashes:
You can select your driver level at the initial boot-up of the game. That tailors your experience moving forward. For more experienced virtual drivers F1 2012 offers a plethora of realistic controls and strategic options.
Experienced players will notice more effects from driving in wet conditions, while also delving more into the use of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) and DRS (Drag Reduction System) to better pass opponents and maintain leads. Here is an example of a more experienced driver in action:
One thing that should be consistent with all racing titles is the feeling of pure speed. I like to feel as though my vehicle is really flying when I accelerate. F1 2012 delivers that experience, but it is appropriately controlled.
This is Formula One, so it isn't solely about speed—although the vehicles travel upwards of 180 mph—success is as much about precision driving and positioning. That is accurately conveyed in the driving experience.
Driving & Realism Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Sound & Presentation
The soundtrack is a nice blend of cultures, but it isn't present in very many areas of the game. This is somewhat understandable as some games tend to bombard you with loud music.
Still, there could be more of a stamp of style in the audio package. The voice-overs are done well, and the sync of voice with the mouth movements of your engineer are intact. I really do wish the drivers themselves appeared in the game more.
The licensed drivers have their images on the driver select screens, but they appear in their helmets in other sequences. Having the likes of Michael Schumacher and Vettel's facial renders appear throughout could add some personality to the game.
On the flip side, the cars are accurate, endorsements are emblazoned across the bodies of the vehicles, and spread throughout the track environments.
This is a decently presented title, but it could have benefited from a splash of color—literally and figuratively speaking.
Sound & Presentation Rating: 7 out of 10
Modes and Options
There are 20 tracks to race, and 12 F1 Teams with two drivers apiece. Each track and team offer a variance in gameplay. The teams' vehicles are equipped with different engines and chassis which causes the vehicles to handle differently.
You can choose Quick Race to take on a field of renown F1 drivers on your choice of track. There is a multiplayer option to battle online, via split screen or system link.
The online battles can be especially intense as you can compete against up to 16 human drivers, and eight A.I. controlled cars for a full 24-car grid. That is a pretty hefty online driving experience.
The career mode options can begin with the Young Driver's Test, or you can plunge directly into a Season Challenge. In this mode, you can race a single season where you attempt to defeat your rival and finish atop the standings.
The Career Mode is very similar to Season Challenge in its calendar-based functionality. However, instead of achieving glory in just 10 races, you'll race a full 20-race schedule and successive seasons.
The Proving Grounds offers three separate challenges. Champions Mode is new to the F1 series, and it is a scenario based racing mode that target the best Formula One racers in the world.
For example, the first challenge in Champions Mode has Kimi Raikkonen ahead of you with only seven laps to go. You must catch and overtake him to pass the challenge. As you defeat each challenge you'll unlock the next scenario.
There are also the standard options for Time Attack and Time Trials as well.
This is a solid set of options and it should keep most Formula One fans happy, though there is nothing groundbreaking or overly original here.
Modes and Options Rating: 7 out of 10
This game and genre will still be best appreciated by hardcore Formula One fans, and I don't think that is a bad thing.
I give the developers credit for reaching out to fans that may not be veterans of the sport, but from a pure gaming standpoint, there could have been more added in the way of innovative modes and options.
Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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