Latest F1 game gets all the usual things right, but the additions are hit and miss
We’re not sure about you, but the bit of being an F1 driver we’re interested in is the bit where they’re placed in the cockpit of an unattainable 20 million quid racing car and told to have at it. We’re not so interested in the bit where they pop to the shops for a pint of milk in their daily or browse material swatches for a new rug in their minimalist living room.
Strangely enough, the biggest new additions to F1 22 are very little to do with actually driving Formula One cars. The new F1 Life mode allows you to customise a fancy living room, which is more The Sims than driving sim, and there’s now a modest stable of road-going supercars that can be used in a series of ‘Pirelli Hot Laps’ challenges.
While the inclusion of supercars isn’t fundamentally a bad idea, it’s hamstrung by the fact, compared to something like Gran Turismo 7, that they handle with all the grace and poise of a broken shopping trolley. This is clearly a game whose physics model is very specifically tuned for stiffly sprung, lightweight racing cars and the introduction of road cars exposes that deficiency somewhat. The supercar challenges remain a diverting palate cleanser in the middle of a long season, but you’re unlikely to fire up the game specifically to play them.
Fortunately, what the F1 series does best… err, F1, is still absolutely brilliant. The new ’22 spec Formula One car is a different, arguably more challenging beast from previous years; lower on downforce and more clumsy on turn-in. You’ll be pleased to hear, though, that the sport’s ongoing porpoising problem, which turns serious professional athletes into high frequency nodding dog dashboard ornaments, is mercifully absent from the game.
Dig a little deeper into the now sprawling network of menus and you’ll discover some nerd-pleasing additions, including the option to do full formation laps, complete with tyre warming, and control your car during safety car periods. PC players also have the option of virtual reality support for the first time in an official Formula One game, so you can experience the exhilaration and nausea of entering a corner at 180mph for yourself.
Without the Story mode from last year, this season’s game does feel a little more dry. Well, unless you’re interested in decking out your F1 driver avatar in designer casual-wear or dabbling in Feng Shui. In spite of that, the series’ hard earned feature set and fundamental ability to translate a fabulously complex sport into an entertaining gameplay experience is still present and correct. F1 22 remains essential for F1 fans, not least those who fancy seeing a Mercedes win a race this year…
Keyword: F1 22 review: racing, supercars and... interior design?