Things can go really fast in Formula 1. Literally, of course: Formula 1 cars go really fast. Vrrroooooooeeemzjiiieeennnggzjengzjengzjengvrrroooooeeemmmmm!!! However, I mean it mostly figuratively. You see, during my F1 22 preview a few months ago, Charles Leclerc was still ahead of the championship by the length of the street. Scores of points. But that lead is completely gone now. Literal smoke from the Ferrari power unit.
Another person who can speak of the demise of success: Sir Lewis Hamilton. Last year he took his eighth title to break the record, and this year has been a swipe for rookie George Russell. You can go that fast…
Why this semi-poetic introduction? Well, mainly because I get paid per word and just managed to smuggle a hundred of them, but also because the above applies more than ever to F1 22. The Codemasters series has been a household name since 2010, apart from a few fewer pieces ( F1 2014 springs to mind) high quality. The matches brought me into one of the sport’s darkest decades, as first Red Bull with Vettel and then Mercedes nipped any competition or tension in the bud. F1 on Xbox or PlayStation has been more exciting than watching TV for nearly a decade.
This year (and also a little secretly last year) those roles were reversed. I now block my schedule every weekend of the race, stock up on beer and nuts and I’m glued to the Viaplay stream. In F1 I recreate the Grand Prix that weekend, but it no longer gives me the same thrill that it did in 2020. Or 2019. Or all those years ago.
I don’t know exactly why. Is it about the fact that the real action of Formula 1 is now much more unexpected than you emulate yourself? Or has the F1 series not been exactly the same since the EA acquisition?
Before we get an answer to this interesting question, it must be said that the F1 22 is a complete package indeed. Almost everything from previous F1 titles is included, including a career mode with F2 integration (also for two players), a MyTeam career in which you build your own F1 dynasty, online and offline multiplayer, and of course the possibility of single races as well as duration of trials . Braking Point, the story mode that looks like Drive to Survice from F1 2021 is not in it, and although it has already been announced, I think it’s a shame.
Instead, F1 owns 22 so-called Pirelli Hot Laps. Challenges (drifting, slalom through gates, etc) that you don’t do with F1 cars, but with supercars like the Ferrari F8 Tributo, Mercendes AMG or McLaren Artura. Funny idea, but personally I don’t necessarily want that in an F1 game. For “regular” cars I already have a Gran Turismo. or Forza. Additionally, I note that Codemasters still have some work to do with dealing with cumbersome and slippery supercars. This is certainly not on the same level of realism as the F1 control model.
Also new is F1 Life. This is where the game really begins. You can decorate The Sims-esque space with limited interior options, paint licks, and super collectible cars. Other players’ avatars (customizable via the in-game clothing store) can then be “visited”. Okayéééé… really adds 0.0 to the experience and the only reason it’s in F1 22 sounds sarcastic: letting kids swipe a credit card for a handful of ‘Bitcoins’ for new furniture and/or T-shirts. We have to wait for the loot boxes to arrive in the game. With legendary items. Ennuh, those tickets with those driver ratings; Sounds very familiar to me… EA wouldn’t secretly plan to launch F1UT… would it?
No, I won’t judge F1 22 too much yet, because F1 Life in its current form is marginal. But either way you look at it, precious development time went to this nonsense, which could also have been invested in a racing AI. Or a few extra rays of sun for whatever I care about. In addition, EA has an appearance against it. If Americans smell dollars, they lather in the mouth. You wouldn’t tell me the F1 series is suddenly different.
Hey, F1 22 is not a bad game. Almost impossible: Codemasters know how to digitally put an F1 car on the track, and now also how to conjure up amazing racing action with big fat 18-inch wheels on the asphalt. Everything looks a little fresher and cleaner, though character archetypes as well as ‘dying’ things off and around the track start to appear. This is still possible, but you can see from everything that the F1 22 runs on the revamped last generation engine. You also notice this in AI, which is sometimes intelligent, but is often very predictable and not dynamic. Sometimes they make small mistakes without your presence, which is nice to see. Codemasters must continue on this basis.
In conclusion, Codemasters won’t escape the host of cosmetic tricks, surface additions and driver/track updates that justify a F1 22 presence next year. I demand at least a lot of smarter AI, unpredictable racing, and if possible a new engine and heavy upgrade in career mode could be announced. And while we’re at it, add the second season of Braking Point too.
If not, the unconditional love between me and the Codemasters F1 streak that has lasted for more than a decade and has seen me through some of F1’s darkest streaks could come to an end. It all went in one or two parts. Well, in Formula 1 things can go really fast…
F1 22 will be available on June 28 on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC. For this review, the game was played on PlayStation 5.
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