F1 2012; By Brian Sutton-Milne

Now I don’t really like much of...well...anything really. I cannot stand any sport at all. All except one, and the marriage between Formula 1 and one of my other favourite things, video games has been a successful one. But with any marriage there will come the odd hiccup here and there, and this is no exception.
Codemasters did a good job in 2010, nailed it in 2011 but went slightly back in time with the actual controllability of the car for 2012. But, this is a very, very good game jam packed with additional features that leaves your liver stuck in the DRS flap of your rear wing every time you play it.
The overall presentation of the game is seamless and nigh on perfect. AI seems to have improved somewhat but when playing it on Legend difficulty it is very difficult to handle compared to previous games. This game is a stunning representation of the sport, where as you play the driver you can customise your setups and choose your own tyre strategies to suit your driving style.
If you like the Dirt and Need for Speed, then it is unlikely you will like this game. It really does cater for the true Formula 1 fans right down to the last detail (except all the douchebags in multiplayer who think they are playing Destruction Derby, but we will come on to that later). Multiplayer does require an online pass so second hand gamers may not be so keen. So lets talk about the game.
The biggest problem I found with this game is that this is probably too difficult, even for the most seasoned enthusiast. There is too much of a gap between difficulty levels, even though you can customise your difficulty with the aid of driving assists its still not quite right. I considered myself an exceptional player (not to blow my own trumpet but I was ranked 470 in the world on PS3, and when my PS3 died and I switched to Xbox I reached rank 347 out of 120,000+) but playing this I had real problems. I just could not keep the car on the track, even with all driving assists on. The slightest touch of the kerb would send you flying. If you even slightly miss the apex you often ended up eating a barrier sandwich and the turning circle of the cars on certain tracks is just too big.
So focus on the actual game itself.
Obviously there is your career play. This has always been my favourite part of all the games because of the sheer depth of it. It is not just one season you play, you play five and you as the driver really feel the progression. So you start out as a rookie, the number 2 driver in one of the lower teams and you go through the motions of a real Formula 1 weekend (though this can be shortened). So you have your three practice sessions, qualifying and race. Throughout your season, consisting of 19 races you get to develop yourself as a driver by undertaking challenges to meet research and development challenges. Part way through the season you can choose your rival and if you outshine them, you get the opportunity to race with them next season, as well as other contract offers.
At the end of the season you get to make a choice. You can either stay with your team and providing you beat your team mate, who is your biggest rival, you can take his seat and become the number 1 driver for that team. Alternatively to quickly further your career, which I choose to do, again providing you have beaten your rival you are offered a contract to race as the number 2 for that team. And so your career progresses over five seasons should you wish it. With all official teams and drivers from the 2012 championship, you are spoilt for choice.
I was a little disappointed to see that Codemasters have removed the press element to your career. Previously in a strange RPG style you would take part in interviews with the press and the decisions you made and answers you gave would play a part in your future contract offers.
Moving on from career there are, as you would expect time trial and quickplay modes but there are a few brand new features that I would like to talk about.
There is something called the Young Driver Test mode. I guess you could call this the prologue to your career or tutorial. If you have never played this game before I highly recommend you do this before anything else. It teaches you the basics of cornering, slipstreaming, using KERS (Kinetic Energy Replacement System - basically gives you a short burst of speed up to 80 BHP) and DRS (Drag Reduction System - under certain conditions you can activate a flap in your rear wing to allow air to pass through more freely and give you an extra boost of speed).
There is the Champions Mode. This is just basically a little extra content to hone your skills and learn the tracks a little better. It takes a scenario with the 6 current world champions that are racing on Formula 1 in differing weather conditions so it won't be easy.
The last of the obvious and important new features is the Season Challenge, not to be confused with Career. It is basically a 10 race career mode but it comes with various achievements/trophies for completing certain tasks so more than one playthrough is required if you are a hunter.
Multiplayer is very, very good so long as you are playing with a group of like-minded people. Like minded people like to play the game in its truest form. Formula 1 is a non contact sport yet the majority of drivers online are just chumps and this has been a problem I have endured since 2010. If you can get into a good group of people you can have a great time and you can also do a co-op season with another player as your teammate which was brilliant because you would be battling each other constantly and there is nothing better than a little ‘friendly’ competition. Otherwise it is the Need for Speed playing ballbags, the douchebags, the unfortunate majority who don’t realise or appreciate what Formula 1 is all about...that ruins the online experience for the minority, passionate Formula 1 fans, for me and gamers who just want a good race. In multiplayer...watch yourself!
That said I sincerely hope that in 2013 a new penalty system is introduced to get rid of these plebs. The new game looks promising with an all new Classic Edition. Finally Codemasters listened to their fans and allowed us to use some legendary drivers and cars. although I really cannot understand why three time champions and all time great, Ayrton Senna is not included in this 80’s and 90’s lineup and this is the only thing preventing me fro ordering the game so far. Please Codemasters....fix this! We need Senna!!!
In the words of the late, great Ayrton Senna “If you no longer go for a gap, you are no longer a racing driver”.
Visually the most stunning F1 yet.
A whole host of new features
Very engrossing career play
Wrong people buying the game
A few response issues with the cars.