F1 2012 is a driving and racing game. As it name indicates, it is based on the 2012 Formula 1 season. Put your helmet on, hop into a sleek super fast car, strap in. You’re the driver! Challenge World Champions, including Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Vettel and Lewis Hamilton on Grand Prix circuits around the world. For this review, I borrowed from my friend Johan a genuine worn out Ferrari racing wheel complete with accelerator and brake pedals, and I was very eager to plug it into F1 2012.
Playability: It’s not a game, it’s a racing simulation
For newcomers to the series, there is a “young driver test mode” where you can learn the tropes of Formula 1 through hands on driving and watching stern videos. The tutorials don’t really mess about, and my team manager really needs to let his hair down once in a while. With the wheel and a bit of training, even an old video gamer can easily pass the initial tests and start a promising racing career with one of six teams. Of course I chose the “slow cars” option and checked a bevy of driver assist tricks, including automatic gear shifting. The different camera angles also come in handy when you don’t really know what you’re doing.
Annoyance: Circling around a hundred times, waiting for rain
F1 2012 has proper British stiff upper lip commentary but totally lacks British sense of humour. From the very beginning, you’re being told (off) that this is a serious simulation that favours realistic (or near) Formula 1 racing conditions. F1 2012 is a tedious job: you really have to race to win. My heart sank when I realised for the first time that I was going to have to go around the same circuit again and again and again. How long was the Grand Prix de Monaco? I eventually lost count 70, 80 laps? There is an option where you can choose to race for only “25%” of the actual distance. Really little happens during a race. I was left to wait for the rain so that cars would slip and skid. Eventually I decided to cause havoc by aggressively cutting off other drivers, and even driving the wrong way around.
Beauty: Nice cars but where’s the crowd?
F1 2012 has very polished cars, with beautiful colours and all you can eat commercial stickers and logos. Twenty circuits and Grand Prix have been faithfully rendered from Australia to Brazil. City landmarks from around the globe are easily recognisable in all their glory. I felt like taking my car for a ride through the side streets of Singapore, and stopping for a sling and some hawker foods (of course the game won’t let you). It all looks good, and the sound of screaming engines and screeching tyres make you gasp for fresh air. Despite the scenic variety, F1 2012 feels somehow lifeless. There’s little pre and post race celebration and the mobbing fans are conspicuously absent.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Serious racing is just another day job 5/10
F1 2012 takes itself a little too seriously as it prides itself on realism: real teams, real cars, real circuits, real drivers, real physics. I’ve never driven a Formula 1 car so I can’t really vouch for the realism of F1 2012. I’ve travelled to many of the countries and cities that have a Grand Prix so I was pleasantly surprised to see them faithfully reconstructed in the game. Going around the same tracks over and over is a little on the dull side of life, but the big advantage of F1 2012 is that it doesn’t pollute anywhere as much as its real life counterpart.