It’s the time of year again that we settle in and get ready for the cold weather with a slew of new video games. While many sites are already covering the big titles coming down the pipe (think Borderlands 2, Halo 4, Black Ops 2) I’ll focus on one title that I look forward to each year. That game is Codemasters newest edition of their F1 title, F1 2012. While F1 2011 did little to distance itself from it’s predecessor F1 2010, F1 2012 looks to set a new standard for Formula 1 racing. With new additions to the title such as the Young Drivers Test, Season Challenge mode, Champions Mode, and a localized dynamic weather engine this year’s title looks to impress.
During my time with the demo this afternoon I was able to give a go at a couple of the new modes. When you first start up the demo you’ll be placed in the Young Drivers test driving a McLaren. You start off with some basic tests to check you’re driving controls. This is followed by a few short on-track tests and videos showing you the in’s and out’s of Formula 1. This game mode is designed for new racers to get a feel for the game as well as determine what kind of driving aids and difficulty levels they’ll use. It’s also a very interesting way for you to test the new driving physics as I’ve noticed some slight upgrades.
After completing my test, I was thrown into the new Season Challenge Mode as the driver of the #19 Williams F1 car. I was able to choose a rival for my race, and if I successfully completed the goal of beating my rival I was rewarded a contract with their team after the race. I’m not sure if this is the case in the real game, but I would imagine there are incentives for beating your rival over and over again. Also featured in the demo was a Hot Lap video of Monza. The video was incredibly detailed and was like what they show before a race broadcast on TV. The commentator (which is the voice of Anthony Davidson I believe) described key elements to capturing a fast lap at the circuit with keys such as brake points, the proper driving line through a chicane, and even suggestions as for when to apply the KERS and DRS.
I mentioned earlier there were some new tweaks to the physics engine that I noticed. I’m very familiar with the previous physics as I’ve played the last three Codemasters’ F1 titles on the Wii, PSP, PS3, Xbox, and PC (I’m a bit of an F1 game fanatic). The new tweaks aren’t huge but add to the realism. Things such as a car drifting left or right depending on the camber of the road and car setup aren’t huge but increase the immersion a lot. I also noticed the car felt a lot stickier than last years title. This was noticed most as I was going through the Parabolica at full throttle and the DRS activated. In 2011 the back end would get really loose and I’d have to ease off the throttle, but in this years demo I kept it flat out. This is a little more friendly to the novice driver, and should help increase the overall entertainment value to the average racer.
I like everything Codemasters has done with this year’s title, and my time with the demo made me even more excited to pick this one up. The only thing I wish that was available was a quick race on the Circuit of the Americas with the new localized weather engine turned on. Showing off a clear weather race at Monza did little to show the upgrades to the game itself, however the car models do feel larger and more realistic than previous years. Currently the demo is available on Xbox, and will come to the PS3 tomorrow (US), Thursday (UK Ps3), and to the PC later this week.