You can't blame people for being skeptical about annual releases. Time and time again we've seen developers lazily release sequels year after year showing little evolution, with relatively minor new features added just to fill up marketing spiel on the back of the box. And with F1 2012 being "the difficult third album," the pressure is on for Codemasters to provide an experience that will make existing owners of F1 2011 part with their cash on the latest model.
They seem all too conscious of this fact, too, having released this latest developer diary which serves as a highlight reel of F1 2012's improvements since the series last went out on the track, with the aim to "match real life":
First and foremost is the new dynamic weather system. Previous F1 games were known for featuring realistic rain and spray effects to a point that you were often blinded in the cockpit view, but F1 2012 takes it to another level by introducing a weather system that can affect certain parts of the track – one minute you could be on a dry section before negotiating a rain-soaked chicane. While it may sound like a minor change, as the video points out, it could potentially change the entire strategy of a race when it comes to choosing your tyres, adding a welcome element of unpredictability.
Physics are another area that Codemasters are constantly striving to perfect, and with two F1 games already behind them you would hope that F1 2012 gets it right. Don't expect a completely true to life replication (this is still a mass market game after all), but Codemasters have a knack for developing handling models that are both fun and accessible yet realistic and challenging. The video highlights advancements made to the suspension, allowing you to really "attack the track."
Other improvements include more realistic engine sounds, authentic replay cameras and a new stylish menu system that "projects the passion and technicality of Formula One."
It's interesting to see they've ditched the paddock menus seen in both F1 2010 and F1 2011 in favour of a more traditional, yet stylish, navigation system, however – especially when you consider Codemasters' were previously keen to flaunt "Live the Life" element which showed room for development in future titles.
Combine Codemasters' efforts to make a more true to life replication to the sport with other more game-friendly additions such as the Young Drivers Test, Champions Mode and Season Challenge, and it's clear they're trying to strike a fine balance between satisfying F1's fanatical fanbase and more casual fans alike. As an overall package, it certainly sounds like a worthy sequel, but we'll have to wait until we have a final build to fully assess whether it warrants a purchase if you already own F1 2011.
In the meantime, you can read our F1 2012 preview for a taster of what to expect when F1 2012 roars off the line on September 21st.
You can also marvel over these hot-off-the-line screenshots that showcase the Spa track in all its glory just in time for this weekend's race, along with a hotlap gameplay video driven by Kimi Raikkonen and narrated by former Formula One Test Driver, Sky Sports Commentator Analyst and Codemasters' Technical Consultant Anthony Davidson:
Twenty of these hotlap videos will be available in F1 2012, all featuring expert guidance from Anthony Davidson.