F1 has everything you could ever want in an F1 sim. It’s fully-featured, super sexy and reliably realistic. A simple no-brainer. However, what this review really caters for are those who are new to the genre, and have maybe come from a more arcade racing background, such as myself before I leaped into F1 2012. If that’s you, then read on.
While being made by the same developers as DiRT 2, and sharing some of the same characteristics, F1 2012 is a whole different beast. You may not find anything different when jumping into the drivers seat (the game pretty much uses the same controls as most racing games) but it’s about the dynamics on the track and the strict discipline required that makes it such a punishing, yet rewarding experience.
F1 2012’s best moments are when it respects the true power of these mighty machines you’re driving. As you’re lining up in a grid of 24, the lights count down and the high-pitched buzz engulfs the track as the drivers ready their vehicles like a swarm of wasps disturbed from their nests. Despite the chaos that enfolds for the first few seconds as drivers battle it out for front of the pack, the game follows quite a strict regiment on the tarmac. No illegal overtaking by cutting corners, no blocking of the racetrack and absolutely no or, at most, very little physical contact between cars. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie who likes to smash and spin other objects off the road, F1 2012 certainly isn’t within your comfort zone, but there’s no reason why you won’t be able to enjoy it all the same.
What F1 2012 requires more of is patience and determination. No doubt if this is your first gander into the genre then it may take a while before you’ve mastered the mechanics of the game. It’s all about corners, and executing them perfectly. It’s surprisingly difficult finding that perfect balance between speed and control, and making sure your positioning and timing is exact to make it round each corner with accuracy and swiftness. There is a racing line that tells you where you should be on each corner, and you do have rewinds at your disposal in case you mess up. However use them sparingly because most races last a couple of laps, and skidding and sliding off the tarmac is common when starting off.
But what this additional difficulty does is heighten the stakes. It’s a great feeling whizzing along a straight at 250kph+ with other cars attempting to overtake and a sharp corner coming up. But it’s also equally nerve-racking. Something you don’t quite get in a traditional arcade racer. Handle the situation perfectly and you can maintain your lead and maybe even catch up with the cars ahead. Get it wrong, however minor, may cause you to run off the track or crash into another vehicle. It’s a tough, unrelenting game, but that’s what makes it all the better when you get it right.
F1 2012 has a huge number of modes and challenges. Among the familiar time trials and quick race settings, the Proving Grounds section enables you to battle against the some of the best drivers in the sport in Champions Mode, from Lewis Hamilton to Michael Schumacher in unique scenarios that push your skills to the limit. The Career mode takes place over a whole Championship and is what’s going to make you come back for more. F1 2012 comes with LAN and Split Screen multiplayer, but no online multiplayer unfortunately.
F1 2012 certainly won’t be for everybody. It’s a tough game with a steep learning curve. But once you overcome it, there’s a whole lot to enjoy here.
Publisher: Feral Interactive
Price: $49.99 (£34.99)
Genre: The Best F1 Game on Mac… Ever
Pros: A simulator through-and-through, incredible graphics combined with realism, incredibly satisfying.
Cons: Unforgiving, tough difficulty curve.