With the mid-season break wrapping up and the second half of the 2012 F1 season heating up it is a perfect time for Codemasters to launch their newest iteration of their very successful F1 games.
With every incarnation of the F1 games we get better graphics and handling alongside the most up-to-date race and team information and though these F1 games are undeniably deep, the level of racing knowledge required to succeed tends to put off a lot of would be Fernando Alonso?s; not the case with F1 2012 which supports a very easy to follow and informative Young Driver Test, making F1 2012 possibly one of the easiest to get to grips with, especially for gamers like myself who have been away from the sport for a while.
Acting as a main tutorial and also implemented as part of the career mode the Young Driver Test will take you to a track in Abu Dhabi, creating your own driving persona that will stick with you on every mode and will gradually introduce you to the driving basics like cornering and how important car settings are like tyres and angles of the wings that produce down force, the only thing really keeping your car on the track. To keep the game as open as possible there are also plenty of difficulty settings to try out with the likes of automatic gears and brake assists, allowing newcomers to get the thrill of speed without ending up in the gravel pits too often. These can of course be all turned off, giving you unparalleled access to engineers, but even pros can get it wrong so Codemasters have implemented a Flashback option, granting you a chance to rewind the action and try that pass or corner again. Purists will shun this addition but like myself, on the more open settings it is very easy to lose position to a silly mistake and rather than get punished it is nice to see what I had done incorrectly in a slow motion replay and then try to rectify it.
Once you have been qualified to race it is time to sample the many solo race modes on offer, with a Quick Race allowing you to jump straight onto any of the tracks, over an assortment of weather conditions. The Proving Grounds offers more quick races to try with a Time Attack and Time Trails against ghost cars and a Champions mode that will test your skills against the greats across 7 challenges like catching up and passing Sebastian Vettel and then setting a fastest lap or after a safety car incident taking over Jenson Button.
The Career modes come in two flavours and are as option packed as ever with you starting at the bottom in a lesser known team and making your way through the seasons many races. The Season Challenge is a short season in where you are tasked to win the F1A Drivers World Championship over a series of short races, choosing a rival and trying to beat them over three races to steal positions. As ever though, top podium place goes to the Careers mode, spanning across four full seasons, again starting from the bottom and working your way through the 20 track season. During the season you will receive emails and offers from other teams depending on your performance with your team continually setting up challenges, giving you goals to achieve like a certain position whilst also giving you in depth video replays of the course to learn the track and take hints and developing new parts for your car.
Multiplayer has a strong presence that requires a VIP pass included with the game, opening up the racing world to you and allowing split screen and system link for local games and 16 player Grand Prix races, all the whilst offering the same jaw dropping graphics as the single player mode. Finally you have a very in depth stats list under the My F1 mode and the online Racenet, allowing you to share stats and compare across other Codemasters racing titles.
As mentioned earlier the level of detail is deep, making this more akin to a race simulator than a classic console arcade racer. This is made even more realistic by the graphics and sound, with cars just looking superb as they scream around the perfectly recreated tracks. Clip a corner and you pick up some gravel on the tyres, with your pit team then calling in advice, holding back the car until all the gravel has been flung off; it's all of these little touches that really put you in the driver?s seat.
Though yet another F1 game there is plenty on offer here to satisfy everyone, be it the lengthy career mode, which will keep the hardened racing fan happy to the more casual arcade approach of the Challenge modes. Buckle up and don't forget the pit stop.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
Review Policy (Version tested: Xbox 360)