I’m not impressed so far.
I’ve played the demo for several hours now (with all assists turned off), and I hate the handling. The steering sensitivity is ridiculous. At first I thought it was just me being unused to a new game, and sure enough after a few laps I managed to get the hang of it. I was no longer weaving down the straights and struggling to keep to the racing line through corners. But then a couple of races later, whilst trying to overtake another car down a straight, I realised just how sensitive the steering really is. Trying to drive close alongside another car I realised that actually, what I previously thought was a straight line, is actually not.
There’s no reason for the steering to be this sensitive. I’ve played a lot of racing games, including the 2 previous F1 titles, and I’ve never come across steering like this before. Even after a couple of hours practice, I haven’t got the hang of it.
And then there’s the problem with the back end, or lack of it. Like I said, I play with all the assists turned off and a manual gearbox. I played F1 2011 like this right from its release, and even after a year I was still making the odd mistake a losing the back end, as you’d expect.
But with the new game, the car feels like its on rails. You can floor the accelerator in the middle of a corner in 2nd gear, and you’ll be fine. Not even a hint of the back end stepping out. That’s utterly ridiculous. I read a review somewhere and they talked about how the “twitchy” feeling from F1 2011 is now gone. Well I’m sorry, but that’s realistic.
With F1 2012, Codemasters appear to have altered the handling to make playing the game easier. Even with traction control turned off, you either have to drop down to 1st or put a back wheel on the curb to get the rear end to step out. In F1 2011 you could lose the rear in 6th gear if you weren’t careful, because that’s what F1 cars are really like.
So what about other areas of the game? The graphics don’t seem to have improved since the last game, or at least not noticeably. The new menu system is…new; not really an improvement on the previous game, just different. The sound is better, for which I give Codemasters credit for.
But then, whilst on the Codemasters forum I cam across a post that was talking about how tyre wear does not scale for shorter races in the new game. If this is true, that’s a major step back. Very few people, myself included, do not have the time (and/or inclination) to drive a full 100%, 90 minute race. In F1 2011, as we all know, tyre wear used to scale to the length of the race. So option tyres in a 10% race only lasted 3 laps.
In the demo you can only take part in a 5-lap races, so I haven’t actually tested this claim. But if it turns out to be true, I would seriously reconsider buying the game.
In review then, F1 2012 appears to be a step backward from the last game. A few months ago I wasn’t even considering the possibility that I wouldn’t be buying F1 2012. But unless there are significant improvements from the demo before the game is properly released, I’ll probably be sticking with F1 2011.