Of all the franchises in the EA Sports stable, the recently acquired F1 series is the most fascinating. Not only is it visually stunning and pleasingly realistic, it’s also the official game of the Formula One esports world championship, meaning there’s a clear and tangible path between your bedroom and Red Bull Racing headquarters. Really.
Few games have a higher correlation between skill set and their real life counterparts than the F1 series. Many professional esports competitors, such as the athletic discovered in 2021, they are actually skilled drivers who lacked the financial support to progress in the sport. And when Max Verstappen tested gaming platforms at Red Bull, he set times that would have been very competitive in professional esports.
Being good at FIFA 2022 doesn’t mean you’re good at soccer. However, being good at F1 2022…
All of which makes a traditional review pretty redundant. F1 2022 is obviously brilliant. But it’s brilliant in a number of ways, largely because you can turn it into any kind of F1 game you want.
Whether you want an old-school arcade racing game for newbies, kids, or post-pub entertainment, F1 2022 has a casual mode, a split-screen option, and enough driving aids to provide almost universally accessible fun. .
However, if you want a fully immersive and faithful replica of the full F1 season with three full practice sessions, full qualifying and full races, full car customization, realistic tire degradation and strategic options right down to delaying a pit stop with hoping to get a cheap one through a surprise pace car, can be that game too.
All aspects of the game can be customized. Don’t you like pace cars towards the end of big races, Sir Lewis? Well turn them off! Are you struggling to keep the car on track, Mr. Mazepin? Activate your braking and steering assists and you’ll never kiss the tire wall again.
If you want, you can make your car invincible or you can make it so realistic that spending 20 laps over curbs aggressively will damage the underbody and gradually reduce performance.
As for the racing itself, it should suffice to say that it’s so realistic that it will actually enhance your enjoyment of the sport because when you know a track in the game, you feel like you know it in real life.
Which is why, when Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had their little meeting at Silverstone in 2021, I felt compelled to nod vigorously to Red Bull boss Christian Horner’s subsequent assertion that “you don’t stick a wheel inside at Copse!” ! ”
I didn’t have these opinions before playing this game.
But for those of us who to have I played it in the past and I know all this, what has changed? Is it enough to justify the price (£50-55)?
As with Football Manager, a common complaint with the EA Sports production is, “Well, that’s a lot of money to pay for a data upgrade.” And as with Football Manager, the complaint is not always entirely fair.
It’s certainly true that if you haven’t played since, say, F1 2020, you’ll have no trouble making your way through F1 2022. The interface is pretty much the same, the graphics are mostly the same, and the controls are exactly the same. . The only major visual differences are the colors and the relative strengths of the cars.
However, the sport itself has changed and the game has changed with it. Speed racing is now a feature, there is a debut for the Miami circuit and track changes in Spain, Australia and the notorious hotspot of Abu Dhabi have been faithfully replicated.
There are some tweaks to other elements of the game: pit visits can now be either a time-based minigame or a chance to catch your breath and dry your hands while the computer takes over and you watch broadcast-style coverage of the stop. You can win sports cars and drive them around the tracks, although given the massive performance gap between an F1 car and your average sports car, this feels like driving a 1988 Volvo 240 at Monza.
And then there’s the new F1 Life where you can, for reasons beyond the comprehension of someone as old as me, dress up your little driver in a variety of hats and t-shirts and pick out furniture for his virtual tax haven. I don’t get it, but I’m sure someone will.
However, the biggest changes are under the hood, where the physics of the cars have been revised to reflect, among other things, the regulatory changes for the 2022 season. This means more noticeable effects of tweaks to aerodynamics and greater sense of realism when it comes to tires.
EA Sports has provided a video that explains all of this much better than I did, but essentially, the better you get at this game, the more you’ll notice the changes. For the professional esports racer, this is likely to be a seismic shift in game mechanics. The casual gamer will hardly notice it.
Over the roughly 300 laps driven for the purposes of this review, these changes have to do with the tires. A Cold Hard ensemble now makes you feel like you’re trying to compete in a sports day in your school shoes, something that wasn’t always the case in previous versions. Put on a soft pair for the last 15 laps and you’ll really notice the difference, especially in the later laps when you’ve worn them down and the grip fades.
And that’s where this game wins. The greatest strength of the F1 series is that it replicates the tactical side of the sport as well as the racing side.
The moment you really understand Formula 1 is the moment you realize that drivers don’t necessarily go as fast as they can all the time. It’s when you put together everything you’ve learned about tire degradation, fuel management, ERS, DRS, dirty air and clean air and all that knowledge coalesces into a basic understanding of a sport that is a volatile and constantly changing mix. pilot change. competition, car performance and lots and lots of tactics.
It’s not just about cars going around in circles and crashing occasionally. It’s all about keeping the powder dry, building up your energy reserves, and stalking the car in front lap after lap before finally jumping out. Or it’s about slowing down, protecting the tires and bringing the car home.
That’s what this game does: it turns 53 virtual laps of Silverstone into a test of strategy and skill. You’ll have to nervously adjust your sweaty grip on him as you try to gauge how long it will be before Carlos Sainz is in DRS range. And, in my case, you’ll have to smear your front wing against the wall because you focused too much on the math and not enough on the physics.
There may very well be a clear and tangible path between its dormitory and Red Bull headquarters. Unfortunately, there won’t be one for me.
Editor’s Note: This review was done using a standard controller on a Playstation 4 running a pre-release version of the game. Screenshots courtesy of EA Sports and may not reflect its graphical capabilities.
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