F1 2012 by Codemasters reviewed

F1 review

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


Browse all Reviews

Advert | Go Ad-free


70 comments on F1 2012 by Codemasters reviewed

  1. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd September 2012, 21:02

    The omission of the full quote of practice sessions strikes me as being quite daft. Why on Earth would they do that? Incidentally I never took advantage of them in the previous games but it would be nice to know I could.

    • JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 22nd September 2012, 21:20

      They did it because they didn’t think that the two practice sessions didn’t really add anything, and I completely agree. The fact is that most people didn’t use those sessions, and those who did, I bet they didn’t use the fully allocated time that was there.

      I actually enjoy the setup as it is now, because now I can select long race weekend (Meaning the proper Quali) without having to do the other two sessions, which were essentially pointless.

      • If that’s not the definition of why this isn’t anything other than an arcade game.

        Imagine if in real F1 the drivers all thought they couldn’t be bothered with P1 & P2 oh and a shorter P3 please ‘cos I’d rather jump into quali and put my HRT on pole by 2 secs.

        • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 23rd September 2012, 4:41

          So what you really want with having FP1 and FP2 is start FP1 session and sit watching the screen for twenty minutes while the lower teams drive around and rubber the track, then go out and do two or three installation laps. the sit and watch the TV screen again for 15 mins while some more imaginary work is done on your car. Then go out do 5 or 6 laps, then come back in and watch the the team do more imaginary work on your car for 10 mins etc etc etc. Then do the same for FP2. All in all sitting watching the TV screen doing nothing for at least an hour across the two practice sessions.

          Oh and to top it of have the handling so real and challenging that you break the only two front wings the team brought to the track so you can’t take part in FP3, Qually or the Race.


          • Thanks Theoddkiwi, you’re absolutely right. 1H of free practice for a game is way enough ! It’s a fr…ing game for f..k sake. I have a job and F1fanatic takes sufficiently enough of my time as it is :D

      • Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 22nd September 2012, 21:46

        I see your point, but I would have liked the option of doing the full weekend, if only to simulate the sport more closely.

        • They removed the Practice sessions because there was a bug in there. It was a removal in haphazardly manner.

          Still u can see Practice session tyres.

  2. DutchDoc said on 22nd September 2012, 22:20

    The only reason i don´t delete this from my pc, is because of wetraces in 1080P.
    Sometimes it is fun, for the other 99% i race F1 with rFactor. That is closer to F1.

  3. Pete_GH said on 22nd September 2012, 23:01

    Been playing this game since yesterday morning & sad to say that I hate the way it feels, or lack thereof.

    Playing with a wheel is a dead experience for me, Im not getting any real driving feel through the wheel like on every other driving/racing game I play. You get some vibration from hitting kurbs/running off track but there is nothing from actually driving.
    Unlike on other games/sims there is no feeling for loss of grip through the steering, You can’t feel the brakes begin to lock & the whole thing reminds me off driving with a Pre-FFB wheel, Vibration but no feedback.

    Also there is way too much rear end grip & way too little front end grip. The cars all understeer horrifically yet its practically impossible to get the back end to slide, You can just slam the throttle down & get no wheel spin at all.
    And yes I do have all the driver assist/aids turned off!

    I enjoyed F1 2011 & wanted to enjoy this just as much, However the handling & feel through the wheel have taken a step backwards.
    Codemasters said post 2011 that 2012 would be improved for those playing with a control pad & it is, However its come at the expence of wheel users. Playing with a pad is fine, However it doesn’t feel as good when playing with a wheel. I can go a couple seconds faster with a pad than with a wheel & this is the 1st game I’ve ever had that happen on.

    I’ve been playing driving/racing games & sims since the original Geoff Crammond Grand Prix game & sad to say that F1 2012 is one of the worst I’ve ever played when it comes to actually driving the car. I really enjoyed F1 2011 but F1 2012 feels like a big step backwards!

    Don’t believe me on those issues? Read through the codemasters forums, Read other gaming/racing forums & lots of people complaining about it feeling poor with a wheel, plenty of people talking about horrid understeer to the point where Codemasters have acknowledged that it is an issue & that its one they were aware of but didn’t bother fixing for release.

    • Marc P (@marcrpearson101) said on 23rd September 2012, 0:03

      I use a pad and ive had the complete opposite experiance – unbelieveable oversteer! The car feels nervous all the time

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 23rd September 2012, 0:23

      Codemasters have acknowledged that it is an issue & that its one they were aware of but didn’t bother fixing for release.

      I suspect you’re putting words into their mouth there. I can’t imagine a developer saying “we were aware of the issue, but we didn’t bother fixing it”. I’d say it’s far more likely that Codemasters knew about it, but didn’t have time to correct it.

    • That’s horrible (regarding understeer issue). I was hoping the demo was not indicative of the final product. I don’t need the game to be a sim, but this feeling where the car doesn’t turn where I want it to go and not feeling the car through the steering wheel is a real deal breaker for me. I’ll try out the game and see how it goes, I really don’t want to put my G27 aside and play with the gamepad.

      I feel like there’s some sort of lag and steering lock issue with the game (not present in previous titles). Why the developers thought it was fine is beyond me.

      But Keith didn’t think it was an issue either

    • Thank you for saying this – I’m ready to throw the game out because of the understeer issue. I had so much fun with F1 2011 because the handling was perfect. It is very difficult to balance realism with driveability in an F1 game, because in real life a twitch of oversteer is reacted to in a split second by a seat-of-the-pants feel. They did a great job replicating this feeling in F1 2011 while still giving the gamer just enough time to respond to the visual cues before the car spun. In many other games the fastest race cars (be they F1 cars or LMPs) generally just understeer because oversteer is too difficult to respond to in time. But in F1 2011 you could really dance the car on the limit through corners and respond to understeer, oversteer and 4-wheel drifts properly, which was great fun. And if you wanted to tune the car for more understeer or oversteer, that was easy to do.

      The physics model in the new game has been butchered. The cars just understeer to no end, and the front end does not grip even with the setup completely tilted to oversteer, nor will the front end find grip mid-corner if you slow a bit. It just continues to plow forward as if it’s an 800 horsepower Toyota Camry.

      To me this ruins the entire game. There have been many “solutions” posted in forums by people saying you just need to brake more, carry less speed into corners, get your turning done early and get on the gas early. Obviously this is how you generate faster lap times, but this doesn’t “solve” the understeer – it just avoids the issue by driving around it. It is a good skill for a racer to have, but you are constantly only driving the car within its limits, not balancing the car right at the limit. That is not racing, that’s just driving. The game may be easier for novices now, I suppose, but to me it’s lost its soul entirely.

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 23rd September 2012, 0:33

    I think far too many people are clinging far too tightly to the idea that if Codemasters make a hyper-realistic simulator, casual gamers will flock to it because the hardcore fans approve of it. This logic could not be more backward, I’m afraid. The series already has a reputation for having an incredibly difficult learning curve, and even with the changes Codemasters have made that cater to casual gamers, most of the reviews that I have read agree that the difficulty curve is still very steep.

    Besides, if Codemasters make a game that is designed to make it easier for newcomers to play, and if that game brings more fans to the sport, then how is that in any way a bad thing?

  5. F1 2012 has (few) good and (more) bad points. It’s overall a mediocre game. It’s my opinion, I am entitled to it.
    I mention that I play it on a PC, with a xbox 360 gamepad on the second difficulty level. I will play it as I don’t have F1 2010 or F1 2011 and it’s a F1 game.

    What I found to be just awesome is the racing view while it’s raining … the rain drops, the blur, the feeling…
    it’s just awesome.

    As bad points… well… understeer. If someone can explain me how can I have understeer in a F1 car at 20 km/h ? The guys at Codemasters that are responsible with the handling part are plain idiots. When the car decides “it’s understeer time” I can’t even spin the car, I can go full throttle, open drs and… nothing, absolutely nothing. Also once you lost your back in a curve you have no way of correcting the car. Brakes, wheel, throttle, nothing helps, the car just goes like being on ice.
    Another annoying thing is… the corner cut, left the circuit, insert any other penalty. Reality has nothing to do with these, it doesn’t matter I lost 20 seconds because I missed the corner and I didn’t get any advantage, I even lost 10 places, I get a 10 seconds penalty. It doesn’t matter I avoided another car or crash and went outside of the track, I get a 10 seconds penalty. The examples can continue. In some corners having a little more than one wheel outside the kerb will get you… you guessed ! 10 seconds penalty…
    Seriously Codemasters ?
    Graphics… why on 1920×1080, everything on full, why can I see the pixels from the stickers on the cars ? This is the direct result of making the same game for PC and consoles…


    • You can’t drive real well if you can’t correct the back when it steps out…understeer and oversteer is caused by driving style and setup up. One or both of yours are obviously broken

  6. 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.

  7. Justin (@thejwooly) said on 23rd September 2012, 2:31

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

  8. Yosi (@yoshif8tures) said on 23rd September 2012, 3:12

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 23rd September 2012, 8:32

    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.

    • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 23rd September 2012, 8:50

      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?)

  11. 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.

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

    Then I played iRacing. Game over.

  13. blairy20 (@blairy20) said on 1st October 2012, 19:07

    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.

  14. donie said on 9th November 2012, 17:30

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

  15. Ewan Miller (@artic-rac3r) said on 20th February 2013, 14:30

    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).

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.