Formula 1 has entered a brand new era, not just with its radical regulation changes for this year’s season, but also with the attention that it has brought along with it. With a viewership that reached over 1.5 billion worldwide for the 2021 season overall, the high-speed sport is only getting bigger. The global interest in Formula 1 is booming, and the heat is on for Codemasters (in just its second year under Electronic Arts ownership) to correctly simulate the same ferocious and adrenaline-fueled energy that the real sport brings in this year’s highly anticipated F1 22.
Let’s just get the biggest negative out of the way first…F1 Life. This new mode acts as the primary hub for the game, where players can customize their avatars with branded clothes and swap around various designs of sofas and carpets for their virtual rooms. It’s supposed to be an area where players can show off what they’ve earned (or paid for) but it ends up being something that I can imagine most players ignore altogether. It’s painfully obvious that EA is trying to experiment with how they can monetize content within the F1 series, but it all just ends up falling flat.
One cool feature that F1 Life brings to the table, however, is the ability to own and even drive various supercars. From Mercedes to McLaren, there is a nice variety of cars to choose from, but the biggest drawback is the fact that you can’t race with them. You can take them for a drive in hot lap events such as time zones and drifting, but you cannot race with them in a game designed for racing.
It’s also a shame because the supercars are great to drive. Being able to bomb around circuits with an Aston Martin is a refreshing experience, and it’s something I hope gets expanded on in the future. However, as of right now, it just feels like a mode made to be thrown away. It’s what you mess around with for 10 minutes before binning it off completely. However, if this mode ever gets more attention in the future, I hope the focus remains on F1.
Thanks to the new regulations, F1 22 brings a brand new handling system and tyre model. Anyone familiar with F1 2021 will immediately feel the difference with this year’s title and it changes everything. The cars feel much heavier and more planted, with kerbs being much easier on the tyres this time around so you don’t get sent flying as soon as you touch them. You feel the weight of the car this time, especially on corners, as you swerve and weave through the field of fierce competition to hopefully become champion.
The audio is fantastic as usual, with the new engine audio reflecting the ferocious roar of the brand new F1 cars. From Honda to Ferrari, each engine has a distinct noise that sounds almost exactly like their real-life counterparts and it really adds to the experience, even if it seems like a small thing. Maybe it’s just the audiophile within me talking. Hearing the scream of a Red Bull charge past you is absolutely exhilarating, and it’s something that just has to be experienced for yourself.
Our loveable race engineer Jeff, who has been a part of the series since 2015, takes his exit, being replaced by Marc Priestly who served as a mechanic for McLaren for 10 years before pursuing a career in media. He’s a welcome change and although he just reads from the same script that Jeff had, it’s just nice to hear someone who has experience within Formula 1. It’s a small thing that most players won’t even notice, but it’s just another tiny detail that adds to the immersion of simulating being an F1 driver.
The AI is absolutely ruthless this year, and it brings much-needed intensity to the track. You’ll often race wheel-to-wheel with the other drivers and they will try their hardest to force a mistake out of you. Obviously, this depends on the difficulty we set the AI to, but I had mine set to 80 and I rarely had a moment to breathe during each race. It’s too early to tell how the AI difficulty scales between each track, but so far, they feel balanced enough.
The career mode is business as usual for F1 22. You can either choose to sign a contract with a specific team and compete for better contracts or design your own team to race with. The latter of the two choices now allows players to choose where they want to be on the field. They can choose to start with a slow car to work their way up with and upgrade, or they can start at the very top with a massive budget and an extremely powerful car. For players that don’t have the patience to fight and stay at the back of races, this makes the MyTeam mode much more accessible and fun for everyone. The career seasons and upgrading your car work the same as they did before, with the answers that you give in interviews and department events affecting your influence and the morale of each department.
Formation laps now allow players to park the cars on the grid themselves and mistakes can lead to later starts. There’s also the ability now to turn into your pit in order to change your tyres, but it’s such a slight change it’s barely noticeable. These additions are nothing more than mini-games, which is a shame considering that Codemasters could have done much more here, but it’s a start. Hopefully, in the future, the developer will finally give full control to players in these situations, particularly when entering the pits.
Even though EA’s influence is small, it’s scary to think that they are just testing the waters to see how much they can monetise and control the F1 series. It makes me extremely concerned about the future, especially considering what they’ve done to all their other sports games. However, as of right now, the influence is minuscule and can easily be ignored by players who just want to get on the track and race.
F1 22 is a fantastic addition to the series and although I have some minor issues, they all go flying out of the cockpit once you strap yourself in and start racing. It’s exhilarating to experience the action with a sim setup and it’s something that I’m sure will satisfy many players. It’s an extremely exciting time to be an F1 fan and as long as EA keeps its distance, I don’t see this series failing soon.
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