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Review F1 22 | Do F1 Life and the new cars make enough of a difference?

Review F1 22 | Do F1 Life and the new cars make enough of a difference?

29 June - 16:29 Last update: 17:51
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Codemasters has been bringing us Formula 1 games for years and this year is no different. F1 22 is the latest addition to the franchise, building on the foundation laid by previous instalments. This is now adapted to the new cars, supplemented with new features and more. F1 22 will be available in shops from Friday, and GPblog has been able to drive around the virtual circuit in recent days. Time to see if this game is worth playing compared to last year, and what new features Codemasters has introduced.

Story out, F1 life in

Braking Point was the big new feature in F1 2021, presenting a story of a rookie making a name for himself in the premier class of motorsport. It was a welcome and worthwhile addition. However, it took a lot of time to make and it is not possible to come up with a new story a year later, according to Codemasters. So this year we have to do without Braking Point mode, but of course, we get other innovations in its place.

The most significant in that respect is F1 Life, a personal hub that you can decorate to your taste. Think of it as your little corner of the game, which you can decorate with furniture and other items. In addition, other players can visit your space and vice versa. It's a nice concept that is enhanced with other familiar aspects of the game. For example, you can design your own livery, change your clothing style and more, which you can now do in the wardrobe. Want to watch races? Then head to your cinema and enjoy on-track performances.

Have you scored trophies? There's a large cabinet to display them in, and Codemasters have merged several separate aspects into one logical whole. You will also be able to expand this area over time, as more items become available. This may or may not be through microtransactions, which can be seen as a typical EA influence. After all, they are now the publisher of F1 games, having bought Codemasters. Anyway, F1 Life is supposed to represent your personal Formula 1 life in the game and it's pretty funny.

Park supercars in your space

Another important part of F1 Life is that you get six places to park supercars. This means that you can display all sorts of big cars from Mercedes, Aston Martin, McLaren and more in your space. These cars are not just there for show, they are also part of the gameplay. Throughout your career, you will have the opportunity to participate in Pirelli Hot Laps between races. These are challenges that take place on the tracks. These include achieving an average speed over three sessions, covering as much distance as possible against a countdown timer, drifting and more.

This is a welcome change from serious racing, and if you like it, a separate menu option allows you to tackle the challenges on your own. It is noticeable that the supercars feel a bit more arcade compared to the F1 cars in terms of handling model. Given that it is an extra, this is not something to lose sleep over. The addition is anyway a fine addition to F1 22 and that's necessary, considering the game is a bit lacking in significant expansions. F1 Life sounds like an impressive addition, but in practice, it is not much.

Small improvements everywhere

F1 22 is not a huge step forward from F1 2021. Codemasters has mainly been busy optimising certain in-game features to get closer to realism. For example, it is now possible to position your car on the grid after a formation lap. When you enter the pit lane, a mini-game requires you to time your entry perfectly. If you are too quick or too late, you will have to make a longer pit stop. It's a neat concept because it allows you to exert more influence on the entire race, as these elements also play a role in the sport. But if you don't feel like doing that, you can switch on the so-called 'broadcast' mode, where you can watch the game perform these actions for you as a spectator.

Another change is of course in the cars, which was necessary. This year the teams are driving new cars, which have also found their way into the game. Because of the modified aerodynamics and larger wheels, physics has changed. This makes the cars a little more difficult to drive, especially when cornering at low speed. It should also be noticed that the artificial intelligence has been upgraded, but we have seen several times that the computer can still be very stubborn. This means that they can easily overtake you if you disturb their line by overtaking them just before a bend. In the worst case, you may even receive a warning for doing so.

Now, the artificial intelligence is said to have improved over the last year, and while it is certainly noticeable in some areas, it is still not flawless. This can be a little frustrating at times, but fortunately, it is not so bad in the bigger picture. Naturally, you can tweak the difficulty level very precisely and the same goes for various other parameters. These include steering assistance, braking assistance, traction control and much more. The familiar settings package is back, allowing you to adjust the game to your own level. To top it all off, there is also a virtual reality function, albeit on PC only. So if you have a headset and want to buy the game on PC, you should definitely try it in VR.

The familiar package

Aside from the aforementioned innovations and improvements, F1 22 is mainly more of the same. As the content package was already very extensive in previous years, the same applies to F1 22. After all, you can once again dive into an extensive career mode with all the things that go with it, as well as experience a co-op career. Individual races, time trials, online races, esports... it's all there, as you would expect from the game. However, the online segment suffers from a number of issues, including disconnects, empty lobbies and freezes. It can all be fixed, but given these are known problems of the series, you would at least expect some improvement with a new part. Pity.

In terms of time, apart from online races, you will of course be busy in the career mode, which as usual can be customised in length, number of practice sessions and more. Of course, the sprint format is not missing. In addition, all new circuits are included from the outset, whereas last year they were added later. For the authenticity, it is good to see that Codemasters is now up to date with the game. Ditto for changes to the circuits in Abu Dhabi, Spain and Australia. Everything is identical to the current season and that makes it a wonderful experience for the fans again. It is also possible to start in Formula 2 and work your way to the top. Don't feel like it? Then, of course, you can start directly in Formula 1. There's no limit to what you can do.

Audio-visually delightful, but...

For the first time, F1 22 has an official soundtrack, as we often see in EA games. The soundtrack is very diverse and carefully composed, which makes for a nice selection of tracks. The audio is also very good, as the cars sound identical to reality and the radio messages with accompanying voice actors are of a high standard. 

Looking at the visual picture, you get what you would expect from the game. A tight presentation in 4K at a perfectly stable frame rate. In particular, the cars and tracks look fantastic. Everything around it is not so impressive. It all looks a bit simple and the many drivers and accompanying individuals are the low points in that perspective. It is all rather outdated in terms of animations and details, and on top of that, the movement is lumbering. Not really things to worry about when you play the game purely for the racing experience, nevertheless it is time for an upgrade. It starts to stand out against the rest.

Conclusion

F1 22 plays it safe with mostly more of the same, obviously updated to the current situation. The cars feel just a little different and that gives the racing experience some fresh impetus, as do the many subtle improvements and tweaks to the whole. At the same time, the new additions don't amount to much. The Pirelli Hot Laps are a nice change, but F1 Life is an idea that sounded nicer on paper than it is in reality. It adds very little and is no substitute for Braking Point in terms of experience. F1 22 has plenty to offer and the hardcore fan can buy the game blind. If you're more casual, you won't necessarily miss much by skipping a year, apart from an up-to-date season of course.

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