Since the reintroduction of slick tyres in 2009 Formula 1 has become more competitive than ever, with a range of rule changes to the aerodynamics and options available to the driver in assisting overtaking. 2012 has seen the culmination of these rule changes, bringing the teams closer together in terms of performance while the return of 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen would bring 6 former F1 World Champions together on a grid for the first time. The most experienced and competitive grid since the early 1990’s, a golden era for the sport that has produced some of the most competitive racing in years and with the unpredictable results that brings. Against that backdrop Codemasters couldn’t have had a better opportunity to delve into the world of F1 and bring it to the masses.
F1 2010 was more of a taster of what was to come and despite the limitations in development time the result was positive, with the title proving to be the most successful F1 game in years winning a Bafta on the way for good measure. F1 2011 built on this this with improved physics and more refined graphics, though bugs in both titles required patches which were not always an ideal solution. So onto F1 2012, the excuses from short development periods no longer apply to a third generation title. This is what we are likely to expect for the foreseeable future so the pressure is on, a game to deliver the thrills of the sport while offering the solidity expected in the final product.
Kicking off with the new intro, as we’ve come to expect, this represents action from the season so far all recreated within the game engine, it always sets the tone well for proceeding. Though eagle eyed viewers will note they filmed the Maldonardo Australia crash on the wrong corner. An additional note has to go to the logo screen as a car animates into the F1 logo, this exceptional sequence looking polished and professional, it really sets the scene.
The designer of the new menu screens is clearly a Tron Legacy fan as both visuals and soundtrack have gone for a remarkably similar futuristic feel. Again all very polished at this stage, it shows off those new bent noses to great effect.
Onto the new modes, the Young Driver Test makes an appearance this year along with the Champions mode, both of which we’ll be testing fully for the final review. Graphics have taken a step forward, from the chrome of the McLaren to the improved textures and grass effects, giving the whole game a bit of spit and polish. Of course key will be handling and so far so good, though the standard defaults for wheels still need some work. Wet weather conditions sees further visual refinement and the dynamic weather could play an important part in online races though the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the brake bias, at least until we play the final version for some extended runs testing tyres and fuel.