If we rewind to one year ago, scour the GameZone website pages, you would find me praising the underrated Formula 1 2011 title for the Xbox 360. The amount of work put into F1 2011 was noteworthy. The precision, the speed, the fun: it all came together to make one heck of a racing title. Now, one year later, Formula 1 2012 arrives on my doorstep and I wonder to myself, will it be as good as its predecessor? Will it continue the tradition of a good, solid racing game by perfecting the art of precision and rip-roaring speed? Snap on your safety belt and put on your fancy helmet and we’ll see if F1 2012 takes pole position or ends up in last place.
At startup, F1 2012 looks just as delectable as last year’s title. The intro video before the menus sets the pace and gets the excitement pumping. Before you know it, you are browsing the menus in a very sleek looking interface that’s extremely easy to use. You’ll also notice there are lots of modes to choose from. F1 2012 offers Quick Race, Multiplayer, Career and Proving Grounds, each offering something a little different than the other. Obviously, quick race is self-explanatory. Pick your favorite team and then a racer from that team, pick a course and you’re ready to race. Multiplayer is very similar to last year’s game. You can play through Xbox Live, Split Screen or system link. Career mode is where a lot of you will spend the most time. Inside Career Mode, there are three sub categories, Young Driver Test, Season Challenge and Career. All players will start with the Young Driver Test as it will teach you the basics of your car and what you need to know to drive it well. Season Challenge, which offers 10 Grand Prix races while also allowing you to choose a rival to go after in the process. And lastly, you’ll create a driver to take on the F1 racing world in Career where you will take on different objectives and race in many races to ultimately become the best driver ever of all time, ever.
Looking back at what I said about F1 2011, not much has changed with F1 2012. The realism from real world to Xbox 360 title is hard to match. The graphics alone immerse you in a true racing world that isn’t seen in many racing games these days. From the level of detail in the cars to how you car reacts in different conditions, it will amaze players new to the F1 world and continue to please hardcore fans of F1 racing.
Continuing on with the visuals, make no mistake that F1 2011 graphics were already awe-inspiring. F1 2012 looks just as good, but goes even further at tweaking the 2011 Formula to make this game an overall better game than last year’s.
These additions help the player become a good driver from the start of the game. The Young Driver Test is the first new addition you will get to try out as it throws you in as soon as you load the game up. (And please, don’t rule out the Young Driver Test as just a tutorial.) In all honesty, this is a challenging game and it’s meant to be. For the level of realism to stay true to the sport, the races have to be challenging and it’s one of those rare gems where you actually have to practice and learn how your car drives to be competitive within the game. That being said, there is a steep learning curve for new players to the F1 series. The addition of the Young Driver Test is absolutely one that shouldn’t be overlooked. It goes over all the basics that you need to help you figure out how your car reacts and how to drive it. Players new to the F1 games will be stunned at how each little minute control could help or hurt you in a matter of seconds.
Don't worry too much about the steep learning curve though as the game helps you progress with its difficulty settings as well. Similar to F1 2011, the difficulty settings control what your car can and cannot do. For example, on easy, it will automatically brake for you and all you really have to do is speed up and control the direction of your car. However, as you increase the difficulty, the less the computer controls and the more you control. It's an amazing system that works by progressing your skills and letting you decide when you ready to take the next step.
This feeling of realism and perfection the game portrays is unmatched. It presents a level of competition you don’t see very often. With constant penalties for overtaking illegally or causing a collision, each move you make should be made with a sense of strategy and precision that you likely haven’t seen in many other racing sims.
But we, as players, aren’t perfect, right? That is why Codemasters added yet another small but great addition in their new Flashback feature. It allows the player to rewind to an earlier part of the race when things get out of hand. (Oh, hello wall.) For example, if you take a turn too hard and start to jet off the course in reckless fashion, you can use the Flashback option to rewind to an earlier part of the race before your wreck happened and start from there. It’s a welcomed option in this perfection driven game.
Fortunately for F1 racing fans, F1 2012 has everything F1 2011 did right. Beautiful visuals, competitive racing and a level of unmatched realism are all there again. F1 2012 newcomers should be aware of the steep learning curve, but know they are getting a great F1 racing experience from this title. Codemasters took everything great about 2011 and added a few simple features that will help you tremendously and make you appreciate just how great these F1 racing games really are.
So put on your fancy helmet, overly-sponsored body suit and I'll see you out on the track.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]