Codemasters’ third Formula One game sees the series finally find its feet. A broader range of game modes gives you much more to do, while great care has been taken to ease newcomers into the game. Though F1 2012 doesn’t capture the magic that surrounds the sport, the on-circuit action is the best and most exciting of the series. You’ll be holding your breath as you sweep around the majestic corners of world-renowned circuits, cursing as opponents swerve past you, and punching the air as you reach the chequered flag for months to come.
Right from the off, F1 2012 does a great job of getting newcomers straight into the action. You begin your career in F1 at the young drivers test in Abu Dhabi. This short tutorial introduces you to the fundamentals of the sport and the underlying mechanics of each race. Tasks include brief challenges around accelerating and cornering, and short videos explaining when to use the car’s KERS boost button and drag reduction system, which are crucial to any F1 race. You need to complete the tutorial to play Career mode, but it’s smart enough and short enough not to irritate seasoned racers, while also acting as a crucial stepping stone for newcomers–something that was sorely lacking from previous games in the series.
Once you complete the test and the game opens up, there are a range of modes for you to play through that are much more varied than in previous Formula One games. The first of those is Season Challenge, which lets you enjoy the excitement of an F1 season without the longer time investment of Career mode. You compete against various rivals over 10 Grand Prix weekends; if you place above your rival in the best of three races, you’re immediately offered a contract by his team. Race weekends in Season Challenge are short affairs consisting of five-lap races, preceded by another addition to the series: one-shot qualification. Here you have a single opportunity to set a lap time, accompanied by the ghost cars of your closest rivals.