F1 2012 by Codemasters

F1 2012 by Codemasters reviewed

F1 reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

F1 2012 is the third officially-licensed Formula One game from Codemasters for major platforms.

Annual editions of sports franchises face the same problem of trying to introduce something new to the gameplay beyond merely updating to the roster of teams and players – and, in F1’s case – cars and tracks.

Last year Codemasters responded to public demand for the addition of the safety car to F1 2011. That plus major changes such as the introduction of DRS and KERS meant there was plenty to keep players interested.

However it’s hard to say the same of the third edition, F1 2012. At best the franchise seems to be treading water, and insome ways it even feels like a step backwards.

Young Drivers’ Test

F1 2012 by CodemastersThe first thing that strikes you about F1 2012 is the change to the menus. Codemasters has dispensed with the “live the life, be the driver” ethos which was a much-hyped part of previous games.

With it has gone the smart paddock-based menu. In its place we have a flat menu which is a little simpler to use but less of a visual treat.

It’s hard to get excited about the headline new feature of the game: the Young Drivers’ Test at Abu Dhabi. This takes the form of a short introduction to the game mechanics.

It will serve those not familiar with F1 very well. But experienced players, or anyone with a basic knowledge of F1, will probably find it rather patronising.

At several points throughout the game it appears Codemasters’ overriding desire has been to make it more accessible to a mainstream audience. This in itself is not a bad thing, providing it is achieved without diluting the game’s appeal as a faithful recreation of the F1 world.

In that respect the Young Drivers’ Test straddles two conflicting demands quite well. I particularly enjoyed spotting upcoming talents like Jules Bianchi and Alexander Rossi in the cars.

Controversial changes

But some of the other changes are questionable and, unsurprisingly, Codemasters have come in for a lot of heat for them on their community pages.

For example, the three practice sessions per weekend have been replaced with a single hour of practice. While the team behind the game point out, not unreasonably, that few people used all the sessions, it still seems odd to go to the trouble of removing a feature which was in previous games.

It only serves to weaken the latest game’s claim to be a faithful virtual version of the real thing.

A similar change is the inability to pick which driver to compete as in career mode – you can select the car, but not the driver. Again, this is a case of an option that was available before being removed seemingly for no good reason.

F1 2012’s dearth of new ideas and pandering to the short-attention-span brigade is best exemplified by the ‘season challenge’ mode. This is merely an abbreviated ten-race championship, yet is apparently considered important enough for it to be splashed on the game’s box.

The new ‘champions mode’ at least has a little character to it. It offers a series of levels in which you compete against each of the current world champions. It’s an entertaining diversion from the main game, but not something that’s going to occupy you for long.

Nuts and bolts

F1 2012 by CodemastersHappily, the racing dynamics remain as strong as ever and this is what makes the game so easy to recommend. It’s as much fun if you want a quick thrash-and-crash on a joypad, or to immerse yourself in it by hooking up a steering wheel and pedals for a full two-hour expert mode race in Monaco in the rain.

The car models are lusciously detailed, particularly given that the game’s engine has to cope with a 24-car field. As ever they are fixed at their round one specification, so if you were especially fond of the sloped nose on the McLaren the news is good.

The tracks look great and of course you have the new Circuit of the Americas to play with. Although, as was the case with Korea in 2010 and India in 2011, you have to wonder how realistically anyone can model a track which isn’t finished and which the real cars haven’t raced on yet.

The weather system has always been one of the game’s strongest cards, and it’s been further enhanced this year with the introduction of localised variations. So now you may have to cope with a track that’s wet in one place while still mainly dry elsewhere.

Rival drivers give you a hard time, covering their racing lines to deter you from passing. The penalty system is harsh but, for the most part, fair.

The best new addition to the game is the lap tutorials. Narrated by Anthony Davidson, they give excellent tips on how to drive F1 2012’s 20 different circuits.

But while the game remains terrific fun to play, it’s disappointing to see the lack of progress on some of its key shortcomings.

While much effort has clearly been put into getting the game dynamics right, it all falls apart when cars make contact with each other. They feel unrealistically solid and hard to damage, even on the toughest difficulty levels.

The basic replay system still prevents you from viewing what happened elsewhere on the track during the race, and in-race replays are very short.

Codemasters have removed tyre wear scaling from this year’s game, meaning that tyre performance degrades at the same rate in shorter races as it does in full-length races. They have been pilloried for it in their forums.

In other respects Codemasters have added detail to the tyre wear model – for example, by reflecting differences in wear rates between different cars (the team asked the author for his views on this subject while the game was in development). If having this more sophisticated tyre model means the ability to scale the wear rates to different race lengths had to be sacrificed, then so be it.


F1 2012 by CodemastersF1 2012 is a competent racer which packs in many of the essential features of modern F1 racing. For all its niggling faults and shortcomings, the core game remains highly entertaining in both single- and multi-player modes, and is enough to keep it at four-star level.

But while Codemasters have continued to refine the core game, it’s disappointing to see some changes have resulted in a less faithful recreation of the Formula One universe.

The new game modes amount to little more than rehashing the same content in a different way. It feels like an attempt to make up for the lower track and vehicle count than those boasted by games like Forza Motorsport 4 and Gran Turismo 5.

Codemasters have recently been granted an extension on their license to produce the official F1 game. They have extended the franchise to include the browser-based F1 Online The Game and forthcoming Mario Kart clone Race Stars.

Candy floss titles like this have their place, but they’re no substitute for a fully-featured, realistic F1 racing game.

Earlier this year F1 Fanatic readers voted Codemasters’ titles the best F1 games of all time. Future versions may not be as warmly received if they are simply going to ring the changes from year to year without addressing the considerable scope for improvement that remains.

F1 Fanatic rating

Rating four out of five

Buy F1 2012 (PS3)

Buy F1 2012 (Xbox 360)

Buy F1 2012 (PC DVD)

F1 2012 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC

Publisher: Codemasters
Published: 2012
Price: ??49.99


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70 comments on “F1 2012 by Codemasters reviewed”

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  1. Keith, I’m afraid I think 4/5 is a far too kind a score for a game which is more arcade-like than the previous two titles. I’ve had lots of fun with F1 2011, but from what a lot of people have told me, and from playing the demo, which I played about 15 minutes before getting annoyed at the absolutely stupid waste of time that is the YDT, it’s a waste of money. I look forward to F1 Race Stars however, which is probably the first real threat to a Mario Kart title since Crash Team Racing.

  2. I think I’ll save my money and buy the Williams FW31 for iRacing

  3. People just love to complain. I think even if they made a great game, still you lot would find something to winge about. I’m an f1 fan, but I’ll admit that I’m not very good at f1 games and so maybe the arcade experience is better for me.
    Perhaps that’s true of most people except those who truly think they are the ‘hardcore’, which are probably 5%, but like I said, if they made a brilliant simulation, you’d still say its rubbish and complain anyway. So why bother if you’re not going to be happy about however it’s made.

  4. I wasn’t a fan of the disconnection between tyres and road in the previous 2 games, so I just decided to play 2012 how it was meant to be played, with a gamepad. Playing with a gamepad just for the fun of it and treating it like an arcade game is what has made it a lot of fun for me. And reading the comments here and others places about the continued lack of feel from the wheel has confirmed my decision.

    Take this game for what it is, an arcade racer and not a simulator, and you’ll have fun with it.

    1. I’d say : an arcade game with consistent handling

  5. It always amazes me that people expect a mainstream game like this to be a full f1 simulator. If it was, it wouldn’t sell anywhere near as many copies and it would get slated in most reviews for being boring and long-winded. Codemasters have a difficult job to keep everyone happy and as with everything F1, I’d imagine it’s fairly expensive to have the licence to make the game. On that basis, they have to make something that will appeal to the mass market and people who don’t want to shell out £500 on a steering wheel.

    In terms of this game, I’m really enjoying it! I didn’t bother with F1 2011 because for me, there wasn’t enough of a reason but from jumping from 2010 to 2012, there is a massive difference! There are a few bugs but again, Codemasters can’t win. The same people that moan that they’ve released it too early and unfinished moan that they have released it too late into the season! The bugs in this game are minor and will be fixed.

    Final point is based on the main review and the lack of changes. You mentioned that “At best the franchise seems to be treading water.” Spot on – they’ve already admitted that they’re ready to focus on next gen consoles and the difference between current gen and next gen will be massive.

    1. So you think it’s alright for the buying public to be fleeced to the tune of about £49.99 (actual RRP for 360 & PS3) yet again to watch Codemasters tread water with a marketing campaign that promises to give you the F1 experience?
      I honestly wouldn’t mind if this was not sold as an A+ product. Stick it on Steam/Live/PSN for £12 as an interactive collection of famous names and sponsors that it is.
      So their focus is on next gen consoles? Great! Here’s some more money for this undeveloped and technically flawed product, please use it towards the next technically flawed version for which I’ll have to pay the same again (if not more, for ‘next gen’ prices. And the PC, which as ever is already here with ‘next gen’ technology?)

  6. I love this game, it separates the people that can drive from the people that can’t. If you are complaining of understeer than you are the latter. I can already keep pace with the CPU on legend difficulty with no assists.

  7. I play with a wheel and I thought Codemasters had done a great job with the F1 franchise.

    Then I played iRacing. Game over.

  8. Hopefully they make the F1 race stars spin off the arcade racer for casual gamers and fine tune the official outing to be the de-facto sim racer it deserves to be.

  9. how many people can play this game for the one console at the one time, let me know asap before i buy it thanks

  10. Anybody who complains about a severe under steer issue in the game does not know how to play it. I use an Xbox 360 Wireless steering wheel and after a few tweaks in the Advanced Wheel Settings it handled fine. You have to personalise it to your requirements. The handling has been refined in F1 2012 so that unlike F1 2011 where you could just do full lock around any corner and you’d get around fine in F1 2012 you need to, in my case, open up thee steering through the corner to get the grip (like real life-http://youtu.be/3N6CU_YdyX8).

  11. chipperjones
    18th August 2013, 5:21

    Its a great game. Its not surprising to see so many people bash it (here). They say ‘arcade’ as if its a bad thing. Is it worth $60? I don’t think any video game is. Every game has its shortcomings, and obviously those who have followed the titles and the F1 games have strong opinions.

    Dont get me wrong. When I hear peoples ideas, i get all excited. But you know what, the game delivers, and while it may not deliver on the ‘magic’ that surrounds the sport, it does, for the most part, deliver on the physics and mechanics of driving. And while that may not be enough for some, for the very large majority, it is much more than satisfactory. It’s thrilling.

    I want to see more damage. I want to see explosions. I want to see longer replays. I want to see cash play a role in the game. I want the drama. I want more behind the scenes stuff.

    But because its not in this game doesnt mean it wont be in the next.

    After playing the big-seller racing games, this one is absoutely refreshing. For the average fan, the average hardcore racing fan and the completely clueless driver the game immerses you into an adrenaline-pumping, and visually exciting game that will keep you entertained for a long while.

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