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F1 2012
F1 2012

Apple iOS | PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Sport
Developer: Codemasters Official Site:
Publisher: Codemasters
Release Date:
20th September 2012
F1 2012 Review
Review By @ 02:56pm 19/09/12
Arcade versus simulation – these three words are the fuel that fires most of the arguments burning across the Codemasters F1 2012 forums. In one corner sit the nerd-core simulation fans, who demand that the game engine spends more time calculating tyre warping during a 4G hairpin turn than it does the shiny reflections on the McClaren’s chrome paint job. In the opposite corner are those who don’t want to spend four hours practicing a single track so they can qualify on the pole, they just want something to pick up and play that makes them feel like an F1 driver when they’re not filling out TPS reports at work. Appeasing both crowds is a seemingly impossible task but, to my pleasant surprise, F1 2012 seems to have done a rather good job of it.

Personally, I enjoy both approaches to the genre, but my full racing cockpit, expensive German steering wheel, head tracking unit and seat shaker suggests that I’m partial to the simming side of the experience. As an iRacer I’ve spent weeks on a single track, so didn’t expect F1 2012’s handling to present much of a challenge. How wrong I was.

This year is the third iteration of Codie’s F1 reboot, and vehicle handling is easily the biggest improvement. After spending an hour figuring out the cryptic wheel settings (hint to Codemasters – you might like to explain what the hell Steering Linearity and Saturation mean if you’re going to allow users to change them), I finally found a configuration that didn’t feel like I was controlling a radio controlled car. By the fourth close encounter with a concrete barrier it became apparent that this year’s cars understeer like a road train doing 150km/h if you carry too much heat through a bend, necessitating earlier and more careful braking to coax them through the corners. Obviously I played with all driver aids off – flicking these back on will allow novices to still burn through hairpins with reckless abandon. The tail end of the car seems more planted this time around, allowing judicious use of the accelerator with less chance of it biting your face off with oversteer. Overall I’d say it’s achieved the holy grail of accessible game development -- easy enough to jump in and drive, but with an underlying depth that will take time to master.

It’s such a shame then that the rest of the game has changed so little. One of the most significant differences is the removal of the Grand Prix mode, so those who like to role-play through a full season as one of their real world heroes will be disappointed. Instead the focus is on the revamped Career mode, which kicks off with the new Young Driver Test. This glorified tutorial lasts about an hour, teaching newcomers the basics of hurtling around a racing track at speeds that would scare a speeder bike pilot. Veterans have no option to skip this training, and after completion you’re presented with the option of selecting one of the lesser driving teams. Only after completing a season will you be offered a chance to drive for a faster team, so don’t expect to win many races when you’re driving the F1 equivalent of a Corolla.

During each race you’re presented with a challenge to beat your team mate, and doing so rewards you with upgrades that propel your vehicle to death-speed faster than ever. You can also select a rival driver, and if you beat them you’ll be awarded something. I never managed to do so, so have no idea what that something might be. Don’t judge me until you try racing against the AI on professional mode, and at this pace I was always several seconds off the fastest qualifiers. Come race time the AI makes many of the same mistakes it’s made for the last three years though; able to drive at light speed through slow corners, yet bunching up and driving like a granny in crowded conditions, so despite my shoddy qualifying times I always placed relatively well in the actual races.

Driving these cars on a dry road is hard enough; cover the surface in puddles of low-grip water and it becomes downright insane, so wet weather handling is incredibly important to the F1 experience. Sadly the game’s modelling of rain is rather confusing – despite the downpour I was tearing through, my car would often handle much better on dry tyres than wets. AI cars can happily plough through small lakes while wearing Option tyres designed for dry weather, and the “rooster tail” of water that follows a real F1 car in the rain is pathetically under-represented. Making matters worse, my engineer would usually suggest the exact opposite tyre than the one that gave me the best performance.

Other issues that have plagued the series since F1 2010 are also still present. While these were acceptable when the new series first launched and we were all dazzled by the stunning presentation, they’re less so after three years of development. Rearview mirrors are less than useless, with trailing cars only appearing when they’re about five metres away, a massive issue when you’re racing cheek to cheek in a pack of cars. The penalty system is apparently controlled by a blind steward, and driving my entire vehicle over a chicane instead of through it didn’t result in any corner cutting penalties. Vehicle damage is modelled with the depth of a Wacky Races cartoon, allowing extremely rough driving before any crucial bits fall off. Finally, the player still can’t control the vehicle in pit lane, with each car equipped with the AI of K.I.T.T. every time they need a tyre change. Codies has blamed the pit and damage problems on licensing issues, which I don’t buy for a second considering every other racing game on the market doesn’t have these restrictions.

Visually very little has changed, and I found it hard to see any differences other than a new camera shake effect and a subtly altered colour palette. That’s not such a bad thing though, as the game was a stunner when it launched and remains so. Note that I tested the PC version; I’ve read some rather worrying comments about the PS3 port. The lack of visual improvements are easy to forgive though, as you’ll be too busy listening to the stunning new soundscape to notice. No longer does each engine sound like a supercharged whipper snipper, instead capturing the essence of a box of engineering wizardry that has the power of 700 horses trapped inside. It truly is an amazing game to listen to.

After twenty hours of playing the game, I can happily say that I had a truly enjoyable time strapped into my virtual cockpit. Like the very best racing titles, with all driver aids disabled F1 2012 captures the hypnotic rhythm and flow that occurs when you’re racing the perfect line through a track you’ve spent hours practicing. Flick traction control and ABS on and newcomers will find it a much more accessible beast, allowing them to feel the satisfaction of beating Schumacher without sacrificing their social life. The only problem is that there’s really very little reason to upgrade from F1 2011 other than the inclusion of new teams, cars and two new tracks. If Codemasters had resolved the numerous bugs and gameplay issues that have been present since day one of the reboot it’d be a different story, but if they can’t do it by now, chances are they never will.
What we liked
  • Updated vehicle handling that will please both simmers and arcade racers
  • Gorgeous visuals now backed up by extraordinary sound effects
  • Young Driver Test is a great way to introduce noobies to the intricacies of F1
What we didn't like
  • Grand Prix mode has been removed
  • Feels like an incremental upgrade
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 05:20pm 19/9/12
6.5! pretty tough there though given it doesn't seem to be overly different from F1 2011 (or doesn't seem to be as big a step from 2011 that 2011 was from 2010) it's probably quite the honest score.

Might pick this up when it heads a bit cheaper. I enjoy Career mode in 2011 so it's sad to see it didn't make it.
Posted 05:24pm 19/9/12
it does the shiny reflections on the Mclaren’s chrome paint job.

Posted 06:52pm 19/9/12
Damn i was so looking foward to this. like Grunder said ill wait till it gets much cheaper like just before the 2013 patch :)
Posted 07:09pm 19/9/12
Hmm, glad I didn't pre-order, I was hoping for more.

Any comments on multiplayer? I heard there was going to be a career mode available?
Posted 09:20am 20/9/12
Sounds like once again they haven't fixed the rules engine that randomly disqualifies you for anything and everything completely legal.

Guess I'll just wait for their characture bobblehead F1 title they're working on - the one with tracks that go verticle, has powerups etc.
Posted 11:30am 20/9/12
Or we can just take our usual stange of telling first-post spammers to F- OFF!
Posted 11:30am 20/9/12
Multiplayer is exactly the same as last year - not a single change as far as I can see.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the game and am joining a league to play it every Sunday night. However, if I had to pay for it like everybody else, and wasn't joining a league, I think I'd stick with 2011. It's such a shame that major issues still haven't been resolved after three years.
Posted 03:58pm 10/10/12
I picked up this game a week or so ago. I played a little bit of F1 2010 and after being utterly spoiled by the Forza series I decided to let the series rest for a couple of years before picking up a copy.

As someone who has waited I have avoided the sting of seeing problems from the previous games remain unfixed. They just feel like fresh new problems to me. Well actually I haven't really noticed any glaring flaws with the game but I have only clocked up a few hours of playtime so far. One thing that was instantly apparent and pretty much made me buy the game straight away after playing the demo is the absolutely kick arse driving physics. I wasn't very impressed with the previous two games but I f*****g love this one.

I just wish car setups didn't bamboozle me so much. Luckily there are places where you can look at other people's car setups so I just copy them and hope that they are right.
Posted 09:57am 15/10/12
F1 2012 is a solid effort by Codemasters but I wonder how much time was spent on QA. Codemasters just released the 7th patch and yet the localised weather in career mode isn't 100% fixed. Patch #2 fixed over 200 issues according to the release notes.
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