F1 2012

F1 2012 Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC

Formula 1 based on the 2012/2013 racing season.

Review Verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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F1 2012 screenshot
F1 2012 screenshot

Motorsport can deliver incredible drama. So far the 2012 season has been exciting and intense, despite Maldonado's attempts to hospitalise every driver on the grid. Codemasters' F1 2012, however, packs a lot less surprise but just the right amount of drama.

Even though Noel Gallagher’s nasally ballad ‘What A Life’ reverberates into earshot during the opening pre-roll, there’s no glamorous, champagne-spurting superstar lifestyle here. Codemasters has done the sensible thing and scrapped the Live the Life sections of career mode almost entirely. No dull interviews, no banal post-race press conferences - even the removal of the motor home menu welcomes the departure of off-track-centric rubbish. Aside from a few obligatory checks of your in-game email, F1 2012 feels firmly concentrated on the racetrack, and it’s vastly better for it.

You’re not just handed the keys straight away, though. This year sees the addition of the Young Drivers Test. This is essentially a jazzed-up tutorial designed to introduce new players to the fundamentals of F1, similar to Gran Turismo's License Tests. Despite the useful tips in later stages, the first few tests are far too basic. The mode comes off as contrived and pointless for experienced players, and the inability to progress to career mode before completing the first day of objectives is frustrating for competent players.

Career mode - once you can get to it, that is - is business as usual. Minor changes include the ability to switch teams mid-season, which speeds up the climb to top-tier, as well as small rule changes like the inability to alter your car’s setup once a session has commenced. The new career hub also provides more data on your progress, and the slick corner-by-corner hot-lap videos of every single circuit are especially useful if you’re looking to snag pole position on higher difficulties. Additions like Season Challenge and Champions mode add little to the overall single-player experience, but the latter’s collection of preset challenges against the six world champions is fun for the duration and helps compensate for the removal of Grand Prix mode.

Once you’re on track proper, the subtle improvements become dauntingly apparent. Driving assists are far subtler now, canning the overly easy, glued-to-the-tarmac effects of traction control from F1 2011. Simple errors are now all you need to end up in the barriers. Steering is far more sensitive; the car is lighter and more volatile in its ability to change direction. Control and patience are both vital as you carry momentum through the corners, gently managing the accelerator. Even with traction control enabled, braking too late means carrying too much speed into the apex, screeching into a flailing spin.

F1 2012 screenshot

Meanwhile, chicanes are now a dangerous balance between friend and foe - use them carefully and they’ll give you a rubbery run-off to carry your speed through the exit of a corner; attack them too heavily and your suspension will kick out, forcing you to fight the car hard to stay on course.

The new localised weather system complicates racing even further, creating thrilling battles against nature at the worst possible times. Wet races are still as exciting as ever, but conditions are less clear-cut and strategies vary more due to a wider array of potential conditions. The circuit evolves progressively as you race, sometimes throwing you a weather-based curveball after convincing you it’s about to become torrential. If the track is overcast, entire portions of the circuit may be bone dry, whilst other segments are developing a wet, slippery surface as the heavens descend. Instead of darting into the pits as soon as you see a few drops of water land on your visor to get ahead of the pack, you’re teased to wait it out until you have a better understanding of how the track is transforming in the changing conditions. Combined with the more drastic tire degradation and tougher handling model, F1 2012 is an incredibly intelligent racing sim.

It’s a shame, then, that the AI is still not up to professional standards. It’s improved since last year, but you’ll still find yourself obstructed by slower cars when you’re on a flying lap, or catch yourself sighing as AI drivers fail to react realistically to racing scenarios. It’s not so distracting that you’ll automatically desert single-player in favour of online multiplayer, but when so much has been done to convince you you’re sitting in the cockpit of a real F1 car, it’s disappointing that the other drivers are what break the illusion of authenticity.

'... playing on the highest difficulty is undoubtedly the way to go if you’re looking to play F1 2012 at its challenging best...'

Imbalances in difficulty shatter the realism occasionally, too. On the toughest setting, I found it near impossible to place my Caterham F1 any higher than 15th on the grid in qualifying - as you’d expect - but knocking the difficulty down one notch saw me out-performing the rest of the pack by 2 to 3 seconds a lap without breaking a sweat. Whilst playing on the highest difficulty is undoubtedly the way to go if you’re looking to play F1 2012 at its challenging best, the lack of middle ground means you’ll generally have to play on a harder difficulty than you’d like, just so you’re not repeatedly lapping the rest of the field in a world of your own.

Of course, nothing’s tougher than racing the speed-obsessed nutcases who loiter in the online lobbies. Without any notable improvements, multiplayer is left to contend with an old coat of paint this year, but it’s still a joy to play other human beings without pesky AI getting in the way. Providing you’re racing with a party of likeminded drivers who aren’t wasting their time turning each race into a demolition derby, playing online displays F1 2012 at its finest.

The subtle improvements are almost invisible to an untrained eye, but F1 nuts will find immeasurable satisfaction in taming and tuning this year’s cars to performance perfection. When the small changes combine to make an already brilliant formula that bit better, who cares about new stuff? Codemasters has given the curse of yearly development cycles a boot to the face, and it continues to deliver in style.

Version tested: Xbox 360

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8 Comments

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RSKS230's Avatar

RSKS230

If you wanna call something F1 2012 to go along with the FIA F1 2012 season. Why can't it get released at the beginning of the seasons like every other sport franchise. Three years in a row the game is released nearly the end of the season. It's one of the stupidest business move I've ever seen
Posted 08:23 on 16 October 2012
RSKS230's Avatar

RSKS230

OMG I never noticed you can't play as your favorite driver. This is why I hate exclusive license. It shows Codemaster wants to be the only F1 game developer because their product is so sorry if another company was granted F1 rights nobody would by their crappy version. Back in early 2000 we had at least 4 choices of F1 games.
Posted 08:16 on 16 October 2012
Bbbasia12's Avatar

Bbbasia12

Big Disappointment !!!!!!
I played Formula 1 2011 on Extreme mode and it's very challenging. I tried the 2012 version and I'm extremely disappointed with the handling of the car. Game is applying too much ABS and traction control even I turn everything off. Car doesn't feel natural like in 2011. Codemaster - Please could you spend little bit more time on it to improve the game !!!! The graphic is very nice but that is it for this game.
This is racing game but you don't get racing feeling at all !!!!
Posted 22:31 on 02 October 2012
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Debating whether to get this to be honest. I enjoyed the demo and the realism of F1 is completely top notch. I liked F1 2010, but I hardly ever play it, still remains on the shelf collecting dust!

However, F1 2012 is a game I would give my time too. The demo has confirmed that because I have been playing the demo quite a bit since I downloaded. Handling and the camber in the track, weather, detail in the car physics, car models and the stats is a seller for me. I like my stats, especially on cars, because, I love cars.
Posted 11:22 on 27 September 2012
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah

I haven't managed to purchase any of the F1 games so far and this year will be the year I finally get to play a Formula 1 game. This review, the description of the weather mechanics particularly, have confirmed that for me. Nice review Sam. :)
Posted 22:09 on 26 September 2012
shihan's Avatar

shihan

as a hardcore f1 2010,2011 player i expected something rather special from 2012, and i have to say that i have never played such drivel., the sound for starters is just an annoying scream not at all how an engine should sound, the handling is absolutely terrible car doesn't even feel as if its on the track more floating in mid air, the penalties are utterly ludicrous, if you cut a corner due to a driver error you are still given a time penalty is it not enough that you made the mistake in the first place without being penalized for making a mistake (this does not happen in formula 1). i can not believe that a reputable games maufacturer like Codemasters would release a game of such low standard. VERY DISAPPOINTED INDEAD :(
:( :( :(
Posted 10:31 on 22 September 2012
LandGrazer's Avatar

LandGrazer

It really could do with a slider difficulty, 1 - 100 instead of several modes. You either find it not hard enough or too hard.
Posted 22:29 on 17 September 2012
Njeezy's Avatar

Njeezy

In F1 2011 the highest difficulty of legend was still largely beatable after a little practice and professional was a good difficulty to start with (although coming first would become a habit). Is the difficulty largely the same as in 2011 or is it harder? and are the penalties in 2012's multiplayer still as ludicrous as 2011?
Posted 18:03 on 17 September 2012

Game Stats

F1 2012
8
Out of 10
F1 2012
  • Still immensely challenging
  • Localised weather is intelligent
  • Handling is spot on
  • No major changes, multiplayer the same
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 21/09/2012
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Racing
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 1,474
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