With Codemasters having taken the wheel of the F1 video game franchise all the way back in 2009, this is a series that's been in pretty good shape for the past thirteen years - Codies are racing kings after all - with the worst we've really had to moan about being a lack of big marquee changes between yearly iterations.
It's par for the course really, incremental updates that don't often make for games that feel hugely essential from year to year, and F1 22 is no different in this respect. Here we've got another superlative F1 title that nails the look and feel, the sheer sense of speed and spectacle of the real world sport whilst struggling to offer anything truly new to those of us who slavishly pick these games up year on year. There's no denying it's all as close to the real thing as you're liable to get in how it layers in such a dizzying number of new yearly rules, mechanical aspects, tracks and so on - the F1 series really is the pinnacle of modern console racing games in this respect - it's just a lack of variety around the core modes that holds it all back a bit.
With all that in mind, this year we see the introduction of F1 Life, at the expense of last year's rather entertaining "Braking Point" story mode and, being honest, it's not a particularly good swap. We get that the story mode is on hiatus and will likely return, but its replacement here feels like a pretty pointless endeavour all things told. What you're basically getting is a lifestyle mode where you customise your bland little avatar in clothing and gear from a bunch of brands that offer up merchandise that never gets more exciting than what you'd find in your average golf game. You can earn points to pick these items up or spend your real world money via PitCoins - EA is the new publisher for this year's offering after all - and besides clothing there's equally pointless stuff to buy in order to decorate your great big flashy racing car man bachelor pad.
F1 Life just doesn't float our boat at all for the most part, perhaps we need to be more excited by the prospect of purchasing a pair of digital Beats headphones to stick on our in-game avatar, but we can't seem to muster that sort of energy. Where F1 Life does get a bit more interesting, however, is in its sexy supercar selection. Yes, as a successful racing driver you obviously keep several hugely expensive supercars in your house for people to come over and stare at, but what's best here is that you actually get to drive these things around and they feel impressively fast and responsive.
Through a bunch of time trials and a Pirelli Hot Lap Challenge mode, you can now hop into the seat of your various supercars and have a go at tackling some fairly tricky drifting and speed check events that are dotted throughout the game's career mode. Does this stuff feel essential? Nope. Is it fun? Most certainly. The physics of the supercars here are also so different to those found in F1 and F2 vehicles that it makes for a nice little diversion which shows off just how impressively varied Codemasters can make computer game cars feel to drive.
It's all just a nice little diversion in the end though, let's face it, and what we're actually here for, the detailed recreation of every aspect of F1's new season, is still the main show, and it's a show that looks and plays slightly better than ever we reckon. This season's new rules, cars and drivers are all present and correct and although the cars do feel a little stiffer and heavier at slow speeds, boy oh boy, do they move smoothly through faster sections of track. Get some speed up in these new models and you can really push through corners at pace, it feels incredibly fast at times and always as though you're right on the verge of completely losing control. There's been some debate as to whether the cars feel better or worse this year, but for us this stability moving through fast corners is a step up that gives races a real edge as you push past opponents and take big chances on tight bends at ridiculous speeds.
Of course, the racing action here looks and sounds as good as ever too and events load super fast on Series X so there's almost no waiting around, which also means no time to sit and listen to the extremely EA-style soundtrack of fairly terrible contemporary music - a big win in our book! You've got fancy dynamic weather, the ability to do a safety car lap before pulling into the starting grid by yourself to kick off a race, live stats for all real world drivers and cars that update throughout the season, new optional QTE events for pitting, a 30 tier "podium pass" full of cosmetics to blag and so on. This is a big old detailed racer when you get stuck into its core modes and the huge career offering is still as thrillingly deep and immersive as ever.
In terms of those core modes, well, everything you'd expect is here with little changed from last year. You can dive into a career as either driver or MyTeam manager, create your own Grand Prix, take on time trials and get stuck into the game's online multiplayer component. There's nothing brand new outside of those supercars, and the ability to dress up your avatar and house, but there's still more than enough to make this an easy recommendation for fans of going really fast in very loud cars.
And there you have it, another year another mechanically superb F1 game that 100% nails its racing action and recreation of just about every aspect of its real-life counterpart. Yes, it doesn't make any big changes, we don't care much for F1 Life, and there's no show-stopping reason for you to dive in here if you own last year's game, but this is still a fantastic racing experience that serves up all the thrill, spills and occasional snores of a typical F1 season that fans will no doubt spend the next 12 months enraptured by, regardless of a handful of shortcomings.
F1 22 is another super solid entry in Codemasters' superlative run of racers. There may not be any really pressing reason to pick this one up if you own last year's game, but besides a lack of new ways to play and an F1 Life mode that's all a bit pointless in the end, this is still the pinnacle of F1 video game action that fans of the sport will no doubt be enjoying until F1 23 drops.
Free 10 hour trial on EA Play and Game Pass Ultimate too 🤠
Thanks for the review 👍🏻
I'll probably just wait until it hits GamePass like I usually do by this point, stick with 21 for now.
Ya I use to buy these new once every 3 years or so but with Gamepass I'm happy enough to just play last years one for now.
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