First look: F1 2012 (Xbox 360)

We play test the latest instalment in Codemasters' F1 racing franchise

It is a challenging task for a developer to release yearly updates to games, as there is usually not enough time to do a significant overhaul in graphics engines and gameplay. Codemasters has held the reigns of F1 racing since F1 2009, and while every game has progressively improved, the changes are more apparent if you skip every second year.

Simulated speed

The great thing with Codemasters is that they "get" racing, whether it is rally with DIRT and circuit with GRID, and that has meant that their F1 games have received the same level of care and technical innovation as those other racing titles. Past instalments of F1 by Codemasters have been a bit hardcore in their focus, and often rightfully so considering the passion fans have for the sport.

However, this year’s instalment is a bit more accessible than past titles, coming with modes such as young drivers test and lap tutorials. The young drivers test is an introduction to the world of F1, where the player has a chance to learn about how to get the most of their F1 car on the race track.

The lap tutorials assist in the similar way, with walkthroughs of popular race tracks and how to conquer them. For the hardcore fans, the champions mode will keep them adequately occupied, as well as a season challenge for added racing experience.

For the fans

The game engine does a good job of conveying the feeling of speed and all the key F1 cars and teams are accurately represented in the game. The sound of the F1 car is also meaty and convincing, and the in-game commentary is usually spot on.

When you are the wheel of an F1 car, precision is what counts. Fortunately, the controls in F1 2012 are responsive and accurate. Strides have been made to make F1 more accessible to casual players, but it still does not have the immediate pick up and play appeal of say Psygnosis’ Formula 1 on the original PlayStation.

Pros

- More accessible than past instalments through the inclusion of various helpful game modes.

Cons

- A yearly update so there is not much to separate it from last year’s installment.

Bottom Line

If you are a fan of Codemasters’ other racing games and have not played any of their past F1 games, then F1 2012 is a great introduction. It’s also a decent upgrade for anyone who has already played F1 2009 or 2010.

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