Tuesday, 25 September 2012

First Impressions: F1 2012 (PS3)

Yes, yes, I said wasn't going to buy this, but decided I would to tide me over until The Last Of Us. I didn't buy the 2011 game but do have 2010, and I'm a reasonably big F1 fan, so it'll be interesting to see how it stacks up.
When I do a proper review I'll make a point of trying to assess it more thoroughly, but at this stage I've done the Young Drivers' Test and several races/qualifying sessions (50% race length) in Career Mode.

The most immediately noticeable thing, aside from the game trying to persuade me that an online VIP pass code is worth redeeming, is that the graphics are bloody fantastic. 2010 had very good graphics, but these are a significant improvement. The sound also appears to have been improved to a slight degree.

Another feature I like is that during loading screens you get stats on your gameplay to date (average finishing position, highest speed, most G-force etc) which is quite cool. There's also quite a lot of statistical stuff in the My F1 section, which can be used to not only check stats and fiddle with basic options but also to change your name and nickname, and so on. Unfortunately nicknames have been reduced and I don't believe it's possible to be known as Tiberius this year.

The paddock's gone and replaced with a swish Gran Turismo style approach. It works pretty well, and I'm glad the zombie agent of 2010 has gone. Although I haven't used them there are plenty of modes, from time trials to a full blown career, and a half-sized (10 race) career-type mode called Season Challenge. There is multiplayer, but as multiplayer gaming is the work of Satan I shall not be looking into it.

Before you can do anything else you have to do the Young Driver's Test. Basically, this involves some simple 'challenges' like starting and then stopping in a certain zone. It's mostly tedious but is handy for learning about KERS and DRS. One slight omission is how to call for a pit stop. In-race experimentation has led me to conclude you cannot do it; you simply specify your next tyre choice and then turn up whenever you like (NB, it is useful to use practice to find out where the pit entry is, as opposed to guessing during the race).

A Career involves not just racing, but some nice additional touches such as a one lap walkthrough commentated upon by Anthony Davidson, and e-mails/news cuttings regarding the next race and so forth. However, there is a small mistake (I hesitate to call it a bug). In China I got pole and the fastest lap, but finished quite low down due to cocking up strategy. The game, though, indicated by e-mail and news cuttings that I'd gotten the win! My points were not affected by this so it seems to have been a pole/fastest lap confusion.

Races have been cut from 3 to 1 practice sessions and qualifying and race distances remains as per real life (race distance can be cut to 25% or 50%, and I went for the latter).

There's no lag or choppiness during racing, either when it's congested or when the track is clear. The DRS and KERS become second nature very quickly, and the DRS especially makes a qualifying lap quite different to a race lap. Entirely due to my desire to be a good reviewer, I went off the track quite a bit at Australia (first race) and my tyres became suitably green. It also meant that later on the grip level went and it's pretty clear when that happens. In Malaysia I was kicking arse (it was on Easy, I'll check proper settings later) in first by more than a minute as it rained heavily. However, my brakes became cold for the last two laps and I found myself struggling not to spin at almost every corner. Plus, my KERS temporarily broke, but got fixed about 5-10 laps later. These are very cool, realistic touches.

Obviously, I've not played it enough for a comprehensive review, but at this stage I can definitely say that I'm enjoying it a lot.


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