E3 2012: F1 2012 Hands-On Preview

Our very first appointment at E3 2012 was with Codemasters who were showing both F1 2012 and Dirt Showdown.  F1 2012 aims to build on the handling improvements from 2011 and the development team are striving to make the handling even tighter and more accessible to the player.  The handling in 2010 was extremely twitchy.  While this was addressed in 2011, the handling feels even better in 2012 from the demo I played.  That said, do not expect this to be a Forza experience.  The technology in today’s F1 car makes playing more about being precise in your line and braking.  It takes some skill as you have to be subtle enough with the throttle so you don’t spin out.

F1 has always enjoyed a more focused following and this year Codemasters is aiming to make the game more accessible to a wider audience.  New to 2012 is “drivers’ school” that aims to show the player some of the more technical points of the game while allowing them to get used to the fury of an F1 car similar to what the FIA does for new drivers before each season.  Also new to 2012 is a one-off qualifying session for those that want to speed up that process.   The AI has also been tweaked to be quicker and more competitive without having to rely so much on assists as they have in previous versions.

We got to play the new Austin track.  Graphically the game doesn’t look a whole lot different compared to last year’s game.  Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a Vita version coming in 2012 either.  Some cross platforming options would have been slick but alas no such option is available at this point.  If you’re curious to know why this is one of the only sports games that isn’t released in conjunction with the beginning of its season it is because the development team doesn’t receive assets such as team liveries until the first race of the season.  I thought that was interesting.

I have played the last two F1 games and I will play this one because I am a fan of the series but I am not so convinced the new additions will make F1 2012 appeal to a broader audience.  Whatever the casae may be fans of the franchise will likely be pleased with the additions this time around.