It’s a new era for the world of Formula 1, with some of the biggest changes the sport has seen in four decades shaking not only the status quo but drivers’ spines as teams struggle to master the technicalities Quirks to curb the new cars of the year. Codemasters has followed suit with F1 22 and has stopped incorporating this season’s back-breaking porpoise phenomenon into its driving model, but has tinkered with its reliably sturdy annual racer just enough to make it feel sufficiently refreshed in some of the right areas – even if the The overall package will no doubt be fairly familiar to returning fans.
Rest assured there is more to F1 22 than just a stable with the latest cars and the new circuit of Miami. Visually it’s treading water this year, but small details, like nice new post-race clips of the battle-hardened cars and updated camera angles at the old podium celebrations, slightly rejuvenate parts of the Codemasters F1 series that have been stagnant for many years. The new voice of the race engineer and the ability to swap out commentator David Croft for Alex Jacques also help set F1 22 apart from previous F1 games, which felt increasingly recycled in that department. A new adaptive AI mode adds to the standard and already huge list of driver aids and accessibility options, and seems to keep the pack within striking distance of less experienced racers. This should make for more exciting races regardless of skill. I’ve watched my eight-year-old challenge it with the adaptive AI, and while I can’t quite see the full difference between the two levels available, it seemed to keep him on the hunt without completely overpowering the AI.
Bigger bullet points, like the welcome inclusion of the F1 sprint racing format and clever VR support for PC players, are obviously harder to miss. The F1 series is fairly late to the table when it comes to VR support, so I think it’s unlikely that veterans of other existing VR racing games will be as excited as they were a few years ago – but the novelty value of having them available to have in the official F1 series is very strong. With its commitment to recreating the details of reality – from the paddock to the circuit – the F1 Series has for some time been a beautifully immersive recreation of the world’s premier motor sport. Experiencing it through a VR lens is doubly so.
Though not everyone new feature of F1 22 deserves a place on the podium.
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Pad toys for life
After Codemasters confirmed earlier this year that further parts of the “Braking Point” story mode introduced in F1 2021 will appear on a two-year cycle, F1 22 does so Not contain the next chapter of the studio’s airbrushed but serious take on a behind-the-scenes fictional F1 fairy tale. In its place is F1 Life, a lifestyle-oriented mode that focuses on customizing your F1 driver’s outfit and living areas, but it feels so dull that for the most part it’s little more than a monetizable backdrop for the main menu screens .
F1 22 puts the focus on this new mode by having you tinker with the default F1 Life settings right from the first launch. The good thing is that afterwards it can be… totally ignored, and ultimately doesn’t detract from the typically robust racing experience around it. At its best, F1 Life seems like a hodgepodge to justify a steady stream of rewards for your playtime, only often those rewards are just pieces of furniture and floor tiles. At worst, it’s a mechanism designed to shake loose change from people willing to shell out a few bucks for a cosmetic trinket. Other players can visit your room, but I don’t really understand why they would want that. It’s probably a sad sign of the times that while previous F1 games featured iconic cars from the sport’s history, F1 22 features an extensive set of…designer carpets, lounges and lamps. Nobody has been happy about a lamp since Jafar was full-back for Agrabah.
In theory, I understand the desire to capture a taste of that lucrative off-track luxury that real F1 superstars can enjoy – and, yes, I do did Let the V6 coffee table temporarily distract you – but I don’t know if adding interior decoration and being able to dress your driver avatar like an aspiring Puma activewear influencer was the perfect way to do it.
The addition of collectible supercars feels a little closer to the extravagant toys real F1 drivers can afford, and there’s at least one gameplay component tied to those. Adapted from the Pirelli Hot Laps program that runs at real Grands Prix – where F1 drivers are obliged to hurl expensive exotics around the tracks with various VIPs on board – F1 includes 22 high-end supercars from Ferrari, AMG, Aston Martin and McLaren for both hot-lapping and a range of bespoke driving challenges. They’re an interesting novelty – very different from anything that’s existed in previous F1 games – but in practice they get a bit monotonous and I finally decided to skip them. Through no fault of anyone, the supercars themselves are comparatively squishy when measured against the purpose-built open-wheelers that represent the pinnacle of current F1 engineering, but they convey a decent sense of speed, grip and weight compared to their contemporaries in competing racers. However, the drifting is surprisingly unspectacular; A severe lack of smoke leaves a strangely sterile feeling.
Rims really big, bags really big
The real stars of F1 22 are of course the new F1 cars, which look the sleekest in many years, although they do come with a few interesting handling quirks that will require some F1 2021 tweaks.
With their larger wheels and tires and added 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 the cars into the tarmac the faster they go. In F1 22, this has carried over to cars, which feel like they’ve lost a fraction of their maneuverability and feel particularly stiff when attacking curbs and bumps. I also found that I had to be even more sensitive when accelerating out of corners than in previous years, although they also seem a bit more prone to understeer at times in She. The result is a handling model that I would hesitate to say is better than the old cars from F1 2021 and previous editions, but it is is one that feels believable with the familiar traits of the new ones. It’s just different, and the nuances of the new cars are – at least – an interesting challenge.
While there have been some notable handling changes, the real meat of F1 22 – the excellent My Team mode first introduced in F1 2020 – remains mostly the same. Campaign through GPs, complete R&D, juggling finances; If you’ve played F1 2020 or F1 2021 you know what to expect. There are a few nice changes though, like the new choice to start your first year of My Team as a well-backed company with pre-rigged facilities and a fat bank balance to lure a 45-year-old Mark Webber out of his comfortable retirement. The F1 series has always been one of the few racers who can make it exciting to fight for a position on the bottom tier, but the ability to go head-to-head with the top teams right away is something for returning players who want their F1 -Teams have steered very useful several times from minnows to megastars. It’s also nice that sponsor stickers no longer disappear from your car, even though you have signed up existing partners. It’s a small fix, but having to manually reset them to mid-season even after they renewed their contracts was always annoying.