F1 2012 Review
- Car detailing is very close to the real cars
- Circuit detailing further improved from F1 2011
- Redone interface looks snazzy
- Young Drivers' Test is an interesting addition
- Qualifying now replicates three session format
- KERS and DRS make a visible difference in speed
- Performance of cars now depicts performance gaps adequately
- Champions Mode lets you take on the big guns
- Season Challenge is a great addition
- Goes overboard with trying to make the game realistic
- Driving modes harder to master than the predecessor
- Steep learning curve for casual gamers
- Career mode needs immense patience
- Cannot start Career mode without Young Drivers' Test
- Unrealistic & harsh in-race penalties
With F1 2012, we have to applaud the hard work that has gone in to bring the simulation as close to the real world F1 circus. The interface looks a lot better, and the car and circuit detailing has been improved upon the already brilliant F1 2011. However, there is now a steep learning curve attached to the driving even in the easy mode. The career mode now requires a lot of patience.
F1 simulation games have always lagged behind when it came to replicating the exact same environment and feel as the real world racing. Ever since Codemasters took charge of the annual F1 outing, things seem to be improving considerably. However, there are still some major issues with F1 2012 that somehow want you to return to playing F1 2011!
The moment you start with F1 2012, the first thing that inevitably catches your attention is the redone user interface. Gone is the minimalistic one info box look from the previous edition, and replaced with a mixture of card stacks and multiple boxes. This works well because you get a lot more visual elements on one screen itself. The card stacks style also has the advantage of offering more info on one screen, with the effect deploying the focus on the main stack and slightly blurring out the rest. What carries forward are the information screens about your progress in the game, while the next race loads. This time though, instead of overall numbers showing up, you get the stats only from the particular section you are racing in - career, quick race etc.
To start off, you get a huge visual of an F1 car that is circling on a turntable, and at first start, it is usually the Red Bull one, but will change the moment you select a car and begin playing the game. The initial menu runs as a strip towards the bottom of the screen. Beyond that, it is all like a stack of cards, till you head into the season challenge mode, which is more like influenced by paper clippings.
Incidentally, F1 2010 and F1 2011 had relatively similar UI, with just minor tweaks between them, instead of a complete redo. The overhaul this time around is impressive. While there was absolutely nothing wrong with the interface on the predecessors, this one just takes the next step towards being very functional.
Carried forward as it is are the quick race and the promise of completely realistic track layouts. There are the new additions - Texas circuit being one, but the older ones remain very much realistic. For someone who follows F1 closely, any discrepancies or unrealistic elements would have stood out like a sore thumb. No such issues though. What has improved a lot is the way the crowd/audience looks. Rather than cardboard cutouts, they are more realistic 3D features this time, with a lot more flags and banners floating around on the stands. The crowd cheers are clearly audible this time around. Try leading the Italian Grand Prix round the Curva Parabolica and on to the start finish straight in a Ferrari and you can hear the crowd roar.
There is a lot of new stuff though. The first is the Young Drivers’ Test. This is now the entry point to the full career mode. You have to get through two days of testing, and your performance at the end of it will decide which teams are unlocked for you to begin the Career mode in. With one Gold and one silver, we saw that you could unlock HRT, Caterham and Torro Rosso. Better performance, and Williams and Force India will be available. Once you get through, the game aims to offer the complete experience - team meetings, press conferences, offers from rivals teams and you even have your own manager who takes care of the PR and liaison activities.
The Season Challenge mode is another addition, which lets you pick a car and compete over the length of one season with the rest of the actual grid. At certain junctures, you need to choose your rival, someone who you want to beat. If you happen to finish better than them over the next two races, expect that team to offer you a contract. It is up to you to accept or reject it.
Champions Mode throws up a series of challenges where you take on the big guns - the world champions, in a direct competition. For example, you have to catch up and overtake Kimi Raikkonen at Spa Francochamps within three laps. Before you start, you can choose between easy, medium and hard modes, but trust us when we say this - even in the easy mode it is very difficult to beat the champions.
Qualifying for races in F1 2012, except the Season Challenge mode, has the three session format replicated. You need to be above the drop out zone to move forward to the next round.
Flashback is something that lets you rewind the race up to 15 seconds and resume from there. Crash the car, immediately press Select on the controller, rewind to the point where you were driving properly and resume from there with no loss of time or any penalty. This is available only up to 4 times per race, but could be something that first time players and casual gamers could find very useful.
We have already spoken about the circuits, and how real they look. Now, we talk about the cars themselves. In the previous version, the cars themselves were very realistic. There have been slight tweaks to make the cars as close as possible to this year’s versions, and the realism remains intact. Every little detail is clearly visible, be it outside or the cockpit mode. Tires also have a distinct look to them. The Pirelli Chinterato tires are available in various compounds, each with a distinct coloured sidewall.
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