The ‘Improvements’ developer diary details the team’s objectives to “break new boundaries” and “match real life” as it introduces a wide range of new features and improvements that star in the game. Advances in physics, weather, audio and more are introduced alongside in-game a... Read More »
Platform: Xbox, PS3, PC
Release Date: 21/09/12
Order on Amazon
F1 2012 Review
Never satisfied with just hashing out last year’s game with a new coat of paint or funny looking nose cone (and credit where credit’s due Codemasters aren’t afraid to mix things up a little), F1 2012 is no different. That’s a scary sentence for fans of the series I know, but don’t worry – your core F1 experience is still there, it’s just that now there is a little more to do outside of that.
The first thing you can’t help but notice is the slick new menu system and your gateway into the game’s many modes. Career is where you’ll probably end up spending most of your time and when you first load it up you’ll be tasked with taking the Young Driver Test. It’s best thought of as your tutorial, explaining the basis of cornering, KERS, DRS etc. It’s something you need to do and flows quite organically into the rest of career mode. You can’t just hop into F1 2012 and expect to know how to play it, especially if you’re a racing game fan but not one that usually plays F1 games. That’s not to say it’s unapproachable, quite the opposite in fact, it’s just that it takes a few goes to get yourself out of those dirty habits picked up form other racers, like trying to powerslide around a corner, or my personal favourite: skipping across the corner altogether.
Upon completion of your test and depending on how well you performed your two days as a young driver will determine the teams you’ll now be able to race for. I’m not sure if these teams are generated at random, but I found my choices to be McLaren and Red Bull for what is effectively a bronze and silver pass during my test, with gold bestowing me the honour of racing for Williams. I’m not sure if that was random, if it picked out my surname or if that’s actually how it’s meant to be, but I just found it an odd choice. You’ll now also have access to Season Championship, which is a more condensed Career mode taking place over ten race weekends; you pick a difficulty then select who you want your rival to be. Win two out of three races against your chosen rival and you can have their spot on their team if you want, with the aim of winning the Drivers Championship.
Career has you playing out a full season from start to finish including practice, qualifying stages and of course the race. A full race weekend can pretty much take up a whole weekend of your real life if you want it to and although I tried it once just so I could take in the full experience I’ll be honest and say it wasn’t for me. There’s anything wrong with it though… quite the opposite. In fact you can take the car out for a full hour-long practice session, coming back to the pits and tweaking your settings before going back out to see if you can shave off those all important milliseconds. Thankfully for the rest of us though this can be skipped and you don’t have to get your hands dirty with all of those settings if you don’t want to – it all remains approachable for those less interested in such things.
Out on track you’ll find the cars and circuits beautifully realised with a level of detail that few developers seem to bother with. Handling of the cars is exactly what you expect – granted I’ve never been in an F1 car but I’m sure its an extremely accurate representation. If you’re coming into an F1 game for the first time you’ll need to adapt your driving style slightly; hammering your accelerator on and off will result in your car wanting to spin out most of the time and you need to be much more precise with your speed coming into a corner.
It’s a learning curve and requires more concentration than you may be used to, which actually adds to the immersion, making a race all the more intense because you have to be that careful with all of your actions. Should you have an accident – fear not, as Codemasters’ staple Flashback feature makes a return, though I found myself using these up during a lot of races, leading you to want to restart each event. There reaches a breaking point though where you just can’t restart anymore and have to accept you’ve made a mistake and 15th will have to do. It’s just a shame that none of the other drivers ever seem to slip up, run wide or crash out. It happens in the real world every race weekend, I’m just yet to see it happen in F1 2012.
Proving Grounds holds less in-depth, quick events such as Time Attack, Time Trial and the new Champions Mode; another welcome edition to the game that tasks you with what at times looks like the near impossible. You’ll need to defeat the six champions; Kimi, Lewis, Jenson, Vettel, Alonso and Schumacher across six challenges, ranging from trying to overtake Jenson and finishing the race after the safety car has been out, to trying to catch up with and beat Vettel whilst setting the fastest lap of the race. They are fairly difficult and might just make you want to launch your pad across the room at times, but they are fun.
Hopping online and you’ll find the ability to enter a co-op championship with a buddy, making the whole experience all the more enjoyable. It’s just a shame it has been put in the multiplayer section only and not incorporated into the main game’s career mode. Quick race and a custom race also make an appearance and ran fine for me without a hitch, though it was a little disappointing to see that you couldn’t race online with a full grid (though a maximum of 16 players is still ample). Outside of your console, RaceNet also deserves a mention and tracks all of your stats and career progress beautifully, allowing you to compare yourself against the world or just friends.
Stunning car porn visuals.
Immersive and tense.
Cockpit view is perfect.
RaceNet integration works brilliantly.
Weather effects make huge differences to how you play.
Third person/behind car view doesn’t feel quite right and makes the handling feel too twitchy.
Can be frustrating when you just can’t win no matter how many restarts you try.
We caught up with Paul Jeal Game Director of Codemasters F1 Series to talk about that tough third album, keeping it fresh, Champions Mode, RaceNet integration and the new track and most important of all… Who will win this season?
F1 2012 Review,
Games are becoming much more of a social experience; I’m not just talking online while you’re playing either. Slowly but surely they are creeping their way into our everyday life allowing us to take the things we do on our consoles away with us and extend that experience. Some games to their credit do this fairly well while others don’t really try, it’s frustrating for me as a gamer. Why can’t I access all my stats, why cant I see everything my friends are doing while I’m not on the sofa racing with them? And why in God’s name do I have to sign up to another website for every game in a series to get the most out of my games, only for the developer to get bored of the service when the next game is out.
During our trip to Codemasters HQ in Southam last week for a look at DiRT Showdown they showed us their take on this kind of service, and thankfully I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Codemasters are setting out to fix all of those things that are wrong with the various ‘logs’; they’ve got something new on the horizon, something that we’ve all wanted for a long time but nobody has fleshed out enough, and something that we’ve not quite seen before.
Introducing RaceNet: a single online hub which will link all Codemasters’ games from now on. DiRT Showdown is the title kicking that all off, with more and more titles being added to the service over time as and when they release. The version of the website we were shown was of an incredibly unique design with a very playful, almost iPad/tablet-like quality to it. The layout is very simple, with the home page containing widgets that you can scroll left and right through acting as a kind of news feed. Here it will display videos that have been uploaded to YouTube from Showdown by you and your friends, details of upcoming challenges (more on these later) and news from Codemasters.
RaceNet is due to open for registration sometime between now and when Showdown’s demo is released on the 1st of May – obviously there won’t be too much in it to start with as a lot of the content is generated by its users. Signing up when it does launch will give you a few bonuses though, in the way of a unique livery for DiRT Showdown with another two rewarded for taking part in RaceNet events in the future, some bonus in-game cash to get you going and a founder status badge on RaceNet so that people know that you were there right from the beginning.
In the version we saw running, all of this content was pulled from DiRT Showdown as it’s the only title supporting RaceNet at the moment, but this home page will act as a hub eventually pulling in content across all of the Codemasters titles using the service. Across the bottom of the site lies the menu bar for the different titles which again only has DiRT Showdown in at the moment, but the Codemasters logos placed in the other tabs on the bottom menu bar are clearly waiting for other titles such as the F1 series and the “often teased but never officially announced” GRID 2 and DiRT 4 to be added in.
Clicking through on the DiRT tab takes us to what can only be described as a 3D interactive infographic. It’s built on a technology called Flare3D… a Flash based program. The iPad owner in me’s heart sank when I heard that, much like many of yours just did, but I’m not concerned too much, – Codemasters are going a long way to make sure RaceNet is everything it can be, and while they didn’t officially confirm the existence of an app, when asked about one our RaceNet guide James Nicholls said “What we’re doing for now is making sure the site looks awesome for when we first launch so it’s looking as good as possible. We’re pushing the visual quality first so it does mean that some of the older browsers and mobile browsers for things like the flash content wont show up straight away but we will roll that in, we just want to make sure it looks great first and get the service up and running.”
… Which is developer speak for “I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no.” It’s safe to assume there will be one at some point; the team building RaceNet are a bunch of gamers and tech heads just like you and I, so they know that for RaceNet to be the game changer they want it to be it’ll need to be available on as many platforms and devices as possible. They just don’t want to say so yet.
Codemasters intend on running regular challenges on RaceNet, and to tie into the launch of the demo they want us to drain a tanker of 300,000,000 barrels of fuel. It’s hard to get across from the image that we’ve posted what is actually happening on screen (and you need to see it running for yourself to appreciate just how cool it is) – in the background is a tanker filled with fuel, then as every player who is registered with RaceNet finishes an event their car pulls forward filling up with golden liquid, before driving off with it all sloshing about inside. Should the community manage to drain it then everybody who took part will get a badge of honor for their RaceNet profile.
Across the top of the site we’ll also have access to information about Showdown, and eventually when the game is released we’ll be able to view our progress in tour mode, take part in RaceNet events and compete in team championships. Behind the gloss of the RaceNet website Codemasters are tracking every tiny statistic about what players get up to in the game, allowing you to build up a list of friends and compare your performance to theirs over time.
All you need to do is sign up to RaceNet, link your Steam, PS3 ID or Gamertag (or all three) to your account and when you start playing any of the games RaceNet will be aware of you and start adding new info to your profile, building a history between you and Codemasters titles rather than starting again with a new version of RaceNet every time a new game is released. Codemasters were keen to stress that using RaceNet is optional, it’s not forced and you could play the whole of Showdown without signing up. The idea of RaceNet is to build on what is already there in the game, hopefully extending the life of the various titles by building on Codemasters’ already strong and quite loving community.
Codemasters are taking on the big boys with RaceNet – the bar is about to be raised for out of game experiences in one of those true landmark moments, so sign up as soon as you can and look smug with your founders badge when all the late comers start arriving.F1 2012 Review,
To mark the announcement and introduce one of F1 2012′s new headline features, Codemasters has released a video following F1 2012 Creative Director, Stephen Hood, as he meets the next generation of drivers at the Young Driver Test. Filmed at the Yas Marina Circuit, home of the FORMULA 1 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Step... Read More »
The F1 2012 demo will launch this week ahead of the full game’s launch on 21st September for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. In the demo, players will sample two of the game’s new features, Young Driver Test and Season Challenge. In the Young Driver Test, which takes inspiration from the real-life even... Read More »
The Hot Lap video, featuring in-game footage, stars D Ricciardo putting in a perfect lap at Monza. Commentary is supplied by former Formula One Test Driver, Sky Sports Analyst and Codemasters’ Technical Consultant Anthony Davidson, providing unique insight on where to gain extra speed and how to handle motorsport... Read More »