It’s a new era for the world of Formula 1, with some of the biggest changes seen in the sport in four decades, upending not only the status quo, but also the spines of drivers as teams struggle to master the engineering quirks of this year new cars. Codemasters followed suit with F1 22, stopping short of infusing this season’s porpoising phenomenon into its handling model, but tinkering just enough with its reliable and rugged annual racer to feel refreshed enough in a a number of good areas – though the overall package is bound to be quite familiar to returning fans.
Relax, there is more to F1 22 than just a stable of the latest cars and the new Miami circuit. Visually, it treads water this year, but small touches, like neat new post-race clips of the battle-worn cars and updated camera angles on old podium celebrations, slightly rejuvenate parts of the Codemasters F1 series which have been stagnating for many years. The new voice of the race engineer and the ability to replace commentator David Croft with Alex Jacques also help differentiate F1 22 from previous F1 games, which feel increasingly recycled in that department. A new Adaptive AI mode joins the standard and already huge list of driver aids and accessibility options, and seems to keep the peloton within easy reach of less experienced riders. This should make racing more exciting regardless of skill. I watched my eight year old get by with the adaptive AI and while I can’t quite observe the full difference between the two levels available, it seemed to keep him in the hunt without tipping the game entirely the AI.
Bigger chips, like the welcome inclusion of the F1 sprint racing format and VR support for PC gamers, are obviously harder to miss. The F1 series is quite behind the table when it comes to VR support, so I think veterans of other existing VR racing games are unlikely to be wowed in the same way as we were there a few years ago – but the novelty value of having it available in the official F1 series is very strong. With its dedication to replicating the details of reality – from the paddock to the track – the F1 series is a wonderfully immersive recreation of the world’s premier motorsport for some time. Experiencing it through a VR lens is doubly so.
However, no all new feature of F1 22 earns a place on the podium.
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With Codemasters confirming earlier this year that further installments of the ‘Braking Point’ story mode it introduced in F1 2021 are on a two-year cadence, F1 22 is doing it. not include the next chapter in the studio’s airbrushed but serious take on a fictional, behind-the-scenes F1 fairy tale. In its place is F1 Life, a lifestyle-focused mode focused on customizing your F1 driver’s outfit and living spaces, but it looks so tasteless it’s largely just a rear end. – monetizable plan for main menu screens.
F1 22 emphasizes this new mode by throwing you straight into tinkering with the default F1 Life settings on first launch. The good thing about it is that after… it can be ignored entirely, and it ultimately doesn’t diminish the generally robust racing experience that surrounds it. At best, F1 Life seems like a catch-all to justify a steady stream of rewards for your playtime, only those rewards are often just furniture and floor tiles. At worst, it’s a mechanism that’s there to shake the coinage of people willing to give a few bucks for a cosmetic gem. Other players can visit your space, but I don’t really understand why they would want to. It’s probably a sad sign of the times that, while previous F1 games have featured iconic cars from the sport’s history, F1 22 features an extensive set of…designer carpets, lounges and lamps. No one has been excited about a lamp since Jafar played full-back for Agrabah.
In theory, I understand the desire to capture a taste of that lucrative, off-track luxury that actual F1 superstars can enjoy – and, yes, I did being momentarily distracted by the V6 coffee table – but I’m not sure if adding interior decor and the ability to dress your driver avatar like an aspiring Puma sportswear influencer was the perfect way to do it.
The addition of collectible supercars feels a bit closer to the kinds of outlandish toys real-life F1 drivers can afford, and there’s at least one element of gameplay attached to them. Drawing heavily on the Pirelli Hot Laps program that takes place at real grands prix – where F1 drivers are called upon to launch expensive exotics on the tracks with various VIPs on board – F1 22 features top-of-the-range supercars from Ferrari, AMG, Aston Martin and McLaren for hot break-in and a selection of bespoke driving challenges. It’s an interesting novelty – very different from anything present in previous F1 games – but in practice they get a bit monotonous and I ultimately found myself choosing to ignore them. Through no fault of anyone, the supercars themselves are relatively soggy when measured down to the purpose-built open wheels that represent the pinnacle of current F1 engineering, but they convey a sense of speed, grip and decent enough weight compared to their contemporaries in rival racers. The drift is surprisingly unspectacular, however; a severe lack of smoke gives it an eerily barren feel.
Really big rims, really big pockets
The real stars of F1 22, of course, are the new F1 cars, which are the sleekest for many years, although they do come with some interesting handling idiosyncrasies that demand some tweaking from F1 2021.
With their bigger wheels and tires, plus their extra bulk, the 2022 F1 cars are the heaviest they’ve ever been. They’re also lower and stiffer, with less upper-body downforce and a renewed focus on ground-effect aerodynamics that suck cars into asphalt the faster they go. In F1 22, this resulted in cars that feel like they’ve lost a fraction of their agility and feel particularly stiff when attacking kerbs and bumps. Also, I found I needed to be even more delicate on the throttle out of corners than in previous years, although they also sometimes seem a bit more prone to the understeer coming. in their. The result is a handling model that I would hesitate to say is better than the old cars of F1 2021 and previous editions, but it is one that feels credible in line with the known characteristics of the new ones. It’s just different, and the nuances of the new cars are – at a minimum – an interesting challenge to complete.
However, while some notable changes have been injected into the handling, the real meat of F1 22 – the excellent My Team mode first introduced in F1 2020 – remains essentially the same. Campaign with GPs, complete R&D, juggle finances; if you’ve played F1 2020 or F1 2021, you’ll know what to expect. There are some interesting changes though, like the new choice to start your first year of My Team as a richly backed operation with pre-upgraded facilities and a large enough bank balance to attract a 45-year-old Mark Webber. from his comfortable retirement. The F1 series has always been one of the few racers that can make it exciting to scrap a position in order, but having the ability to battle it out with the top teams right away makes a lot of sense for returning players who led their F1 teams. from minnows to megastars several times already. Sponsorship decals no longer disappear from your car despite re-signing existing partners, that’s good too; it’s a small fix, but it was still annoying to have to manually reset them mid-season, even after renewing their contracts.