- Publisher: Codemasters
- Developer: Codemasters
- ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
- Genre: Racing
- Pros: Excellent visuals and sound; lots of modes; solid gameplay with plenty of options; challenging; straightforward career mode
- Cons: Not as accessible for novices as F1 2011
As expected, F1 2012 features all of the tracks, drivers, and teams from the real 2012 Formula 1 season. The lineup of modes available in this year's game is a little different from what we've come to expect, however.
Career mode still lets you take on a full multi-year career, swapping teams willy nilly as you rise through the ranks of low level teams on your way to a top contender. What is different this year is that the career is a lot more straightforward with no press interviews, no sorting through options in your RV, or other such fluff. It is all menu driven now, which might seem less interesting, but it lets you progress through a race weekend a lot faster than before, which is very much appreciated.
There are some surprising new modes available this year as well. When you start the game you have to pass a Young Drivers Test to prove you actually know what you're doing. The Season Challenge mode is a short season sprint of 10 5-lap races where you are trying to beat your rivals out on the track, and if you beat them often enough you'll get signed to their team in their place! Champions Mode has you competing against the six former world champions racing in F1 this year - at first separately and then all together in one super awesome race - which provides a fun and satisfying challenge. Both the Season Challenge and Champions Mode are shorter races that are much easier to jump into and less demanding than the career. As far as plain old "stuff to do" goes, F1 2012 is easily the most fully featured Formula 1 game on Xbox 360.
You can also, of course, play online races and even do a full co-op career season where you and a friend try to win a constructor's championship while also battling it out for the driver's title.
F1 2012 also benefits from dynamic weather that is can actually be localized over specific portions of the track, which means the weather can not only change as the race progresses, but the racing surface may be wetter or drier from area of the track to another. This means that between changing track conditions, and the degradation of your tyres, the handling model is always changing and keeping you on your toes. Using KERS and DRS properly also adds some interesting strategy to races as well. Put it all together and these cars are just plain fun to drive.
All of the handling and assist options are back once again, which means you can make the experience as hardcore and realistic as you want, or you can dial it back to more reasonable levels. It has to be noted, though, that unlike last year where you could put it on Easy mode and easily top qualifying and win races, you have to work a lot harder in F1 2012 even on Easy just to finish in the middle of the pack. It is undoubtedly less immediately accessible for newcomers than last year, but it also is more satisfying when you do learn enough and improve enough you can finish well, so we aren't really complaining. It is just something novice players should consider. One tip we can offer to make it a little easier (relatively ... it'll be a lot harder at first) is to turn off the brake assist because it is way too conservative and you'll make considerably faster lap times by learning the proper braking points yourself.