by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Formula One is in the middle of one of its most exciting seasons in recent memory, not in the least due to the fact that there are six former world champions on the grid. Codemasters is hoping to emulate this excitement in their new game, F1 2012. At Gamescom 2012, we were shown a wealth of new features, as the developers look to make this the most engaging and realistic experience yet.
The menu this year is simpler to navigate, as Codemasters is going for a more streamlined user interface. From the menu players can jump straight into the career mode, where you compete in each race on the F1 calendar and attempt to gain better contract offers from the more highly rated teams.
Talking to Creative Director Steve Hood, I was told that although this is the mode that most people play, many don’t take the time to participate in the extended practice or even to qualify. To make the game more accessible without dumbing it down, Codemasters has implemented a new mode called Season Challenge. In this mode, there are only ten races selected from the full schedule and each race is five laps long. Rather than having a lengthy practice and qualifying session to determine each driver’s place on the grid, this new mode features ‘one shot qualifying’, which consists of just one lap. If this sounds a bit harsh to players who do not know each track by heart, there are new tutorial videos for each location, showing how each corner should be approached. During this shortened season, you have the ability to challenge drivers above you, with the ultimate goal being to take their place on their team.
F1 2012 introduces the Young Driver Test mode which will load straight from the opening movie. It is designed to teach people the basics of the game and test the skills of those who are more experienced. Your performance in day one of the test will determine your contract offers for the career mode when the game finally loads. After completion of the first day, on the second day more advanced driving techniques will be taught.
Codemasters has taken note of the abundance of world champion drivers in the real life 2012 season and added a new challenge mode to take advantage of that. Each world champion has to be challenged and beat individually and once you have defeated them all, you will take on all six at once. You always play as the teammate of the champion in question, and the challenges range from overtaking them in a certain number of laps, to beating them in their favorite weather conditions, to winning a race on worn out tires.
The handling of the cars has been tweaked further. In F1 2010, cars tended to stick to the road like glue and oversteer was rarely an issue. In F1 2011, Codemasters added an element of unpredictability by creating oversteer when coming out of a bend at high speed. The developers freely admit that they pushed the oversteer a bit too far and promise a finer balance between having oversteer and being able to attack corners at high speed. Cars from individual stables should also feel a little different this year, more so than in previous installments. In the real sport, some teams sacrifice tire efficiency in favor of high speeds, while others do the exact opposite. Codemasters is working to bring this same level of detail into the game by attempting to capture the character of each team as well as the technical details of the cars.
Proving their passion for realism even further, the developers went to record a real team during the race in Abu Dhabi last year and are using their experiences to add that extra level of authenticity in the game audio. Real life, localised weather is also being implemented for the first time, which means that now a rain cloud may roll in over one part of the real life track and leaving a small section wet. Back in the game, it is up to the player whether to risk staying out on dry weather tires hoping that the rain could go away at any moment, or to come in for a tire change.
Better every year
Codemasters looks to have made significant improvements to their F1 franchise for the third year in a row. While it remains uncertain whether the new changes will make the game more accessible to newcomers, diehard fans will be happy to see the changes that push F1 2012 to an even more realistic experience.