F1 2012 game review - PlayStation 3 (PS3) version played
To succeed as a Formula 1 driver in real life you need to have loads of money behind you. You also need endless supplies of skill, determination and patience.
Succeeding as a driver in F1 2012 the video game takes the same qualities, with the exception of the financial clout since you only need about £40 behind you to be able to take part.
In this game it’s not just the team line-ups and car liveries which are true to life. In real-world F1 you have to be an exceptional racer to get anywhere near to the top. The same applies in the virtual world too.
This is a game which provides a massive challenge with very few concessions or compromises. If you want to be champion you’re going to have work, work, work and show immense dedication to your quest.
On the one hand, I love F1 2012 from Codemasters for being such an authentic simulation of the sport and being so tough to master. It’s a proper driving game which requires intricate knowledge of tracks, an instinctive sense of timing, a careful balance of fast racing versus cautious driving and a deep understanding of the sport.
When you finally pull off a killer lap, achieve your race objectives or even put in a winning performance, a huge wave of satisfaction awaits because you will know you’ve achieved it through skill and effort.
On the other hand, I hate F1 2012 for being so damned frustrating at times. Every little mistake is punished, whether it’s putting a wheel slightly out of place or mistiming braking by a split second. Cars are ultra-sensitive and responsive to every little input.
If I had a pound for every time I’ve spun off or received a time penalty for some tiny misdemeanour I’d probably have enough money to start my own F1 team.
I’ve thrown my controller down in huffy exasperation more times than with any other game since last year’s F1, with more swear words coming out of me than a fiery exchange between two Premier League footballers. Of course, every incident is entirely my own fault either throuogh incompetence or a brief lapse in concentration. The game doesn’t ever do anything wrong – it’s just designed to be unforgiving.
If you want to take on the F1 2012 challenge you should first acquire the patience of a saint to go with any natural racing skills and passion for motorsport you may already have.
There are ways you can make the experience less painful, such as lowering the AI difficulty and switching on various driving aids. Really though, there is very little point to playing the game if you take advantage of all this help because it dumbs things down too much. Your role as a driver is diminished so much that you might as well just sit back and watch a demo.
Letting the game give you too much of a helping hand with steering and braking may make things easier but won’t help you in the long run. After all, a Formula 1 car isn’t supposed to be easy to handle. Sure, you’ll get frustrated and possibly fed-up but if you’ve got the time to persevere you’ll begin to tame the beast that is your F1 car and you’ll feel all the more pleased with yourself for having gone through the difficult learning process.
Aside from being a very credible simulation of how a F1 car behaves (or misbehaves in the wrong hands), F1 2012 also provides a great sensory experience.
The game’s visuals are very impressive. As close to the real thing as it’s possible to get from the safety of your living room or bedroom, you’ll really feel the sense of acceleration and speed.
Sound-wise the game is top-notch as well – from the engine noises to the sound of the wind buffeting you as you hurtle down a straight.
Now in its third year, the F1 series is slipping into a comfortable EA Sports-style routine of a new release each autumn with updated teams and stats but very little else to shout about.
This year’s new features are relatively unspectacular and have the effect of refining the game rather than taking it to a new level.
There are a few gameplay changes here and there, but the most noticeable additions are in the game modes. These include Champions Mode in which you can race against six world champs and Young Drivers Test which is a kind of extended tutorial. The new modes seem to be aimed at attracting new players and making the game more appealing to casual players – the reality is, in my opinion at least, that this remains a game for hardcore F1 nuts only.
It may not be a leap forward this year but even matching the quality of last year’s version means F1 2012 is a very good racing game. From all the glamorous locations to the in-car systems, it’s got just about everything a true F1 fan could reasonably expect in a video game.
Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and for another year Codemasters’ F1 remains the pinnacle of motorsport games.
It’s as a tough a game as you can get but, though I say this through gritted teeth, that’s actually a positive quality because it makes it closer to the real thing. If you’re up for a big challenge, the rewards are there for you.
8 out of 10
Out now for PSE, Xbox 360 and PC
PS Since I’m writing about the sport, I’d like to put out an appeal to any game developers for a decent F1 management sim. I’m old enough to remember back to Formula One for the ZX Spectrum, and would love like that or Grand Prix Manager to make a comeback.