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F1 22

F1 22 seems to be another step in the right direction for the series

We've been hands-on with the upcoming instalment in Codemasters' racing series.

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More than twelve years have now passed since the studio in Southam took over the F1 license from Sony, which in the mid-2000s held the exclusive right to the world's fastest motorsport. It sounds a bit crazy today, of course, but for five years between 2003 and 2007, PlayStation was the only place where you could drive officially licensed F1 cars. Psygnosis, which later also became known as Studio Liverpool before Sony shut it down in 2012, held the baton and their F1 games were hardly flying off the shelves. Technically impressive but with a greater focus on accessibility and arcade over pure simulation. In short, it is a game that is a product of its time where the technical limitations dictated the experience more than anything else.

The differences since Codemasters' license takeover has been fundamental and each new title has meant concrete, clear progress where the F1 experience has got better and better. Last year's F1 2021 was no exception and with its charming career situation and excellent car physics, it offered an incredibly solid gaming experience that scaled well regardless of whether you were a beginner or a scarred racing veteran. It was also the last game in the series under Codemasters' own banner and with Electronic Arts as the new owner, there are of course some question marks about the series' future. Based on my hours with F1 22, however, the first impressions are positive and the game boasts a number of improvements under the hood, although there are also some stormy clouds on the horizon.

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The new chassis rules have meant major changes for the sport. Heavier but also smaller cars and the reintroduction of ground-effects have shaken the pecking order, but also changed the racing on the track. It's closer-following, more intense and more exciting action. The FIA's revisions of the rules have simply had clear positive effects and Codemasters has, of course, as far as possible tried to make this year's F1 game a representative reflection of reality on the track.

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First and foremost, this is noticeable in the game's reworked physics engine and the simulation of the tires, which are now much larger (18" compared to previous seasons' 13"). Of course, not everything is in place yet and during my laps at Imola and Silverstone, among others, the new cars and their changed physique was mainly felt in the slower corners where the increased weight was noticeable. Because even though this is by no means a regular simulation, Codemasters is approaching an increasingly accurate representation of how the fast-moving cars actually behave on the tracks and you can count on arguing and fighting much more with this year's cars compared to previous seasons. Now, of course, I have no first-hand experience of driving this year's F1 cars to compare with, but based on the TV broadcasts and how the drivers described how the new rules affect how the cars behave on the tracks, I dare say that Codemasters F1 2022 offers a close enough representation.

F1 22
F1 22F1 22

One of the biggest news of the year is of course the Miami International Autodrome which is represented in all its richness of detail and is definitely a terribly fast and welcome addition. A total of 19 corners and three DRS zones make way for buckets of brilliant racing and will be the first of the two new American tracks that will make their entrance this year and next. A brilliant addition that definitely belongs in F1 22. In addition to all this mentioned so far, Codemasters' new features also offer an adaptive artificial intelligence, which in its two different variations ("normal" and "full") should be able to provide a more dynamic degree of difficulty that actively changes during the race depending on how well the player performs.

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Changes have also taken place in how the pit stop, the safety car and the formation laps work. Something that is now offered in two different setting modes, one of which leans towards pure simulation where the player actively participates and steers the cars as usual but also a so-called broadcast mode where an AI takes over and the player is instead shown something similar to TV broadcasts. Nothing world-changing but makes sense for those who want the opportunity to choose between the level of realism. In addition, F1 22 will also offer a long-awaited VR mode with support for a wide range of different hardware, including the Valve Index, Oculus Quest 2, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive and HTC Vive Cosmos. Terribly cool if you ask us, but also something we have not had the opportunity to really test so far.

F1 22F1 22
F1 22F1 22

Something that has not been represented in the preview we played but which we still want to highlight and mentioned is the new F1-Life mode. An uncomfortable addition to F1 22, to say the least, which seems to want to try to offer a The Sims-like experience where you as a player are given the opportunity to decorate your home with luxury cars, furniture and dress your character in different garments. Many of the details are still in a bit of a grey area around how everything will actually work, but the microtransactions make my alarm bells ring. In my opinion, it is completely irrelevant a racing mode with realism as the main goal, all designed to waste time with. These are resources that could be used to update the aging Ego engine, add more historical content or anything else that can actually be traced to F1 as a sport.

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Another fundamental detail that from the information we have received so far will not be part of F1 22 is the so-called porpoising effect that is found on so many of the new F1 cars. A phenomenon that sees the cars bouncing around mainly on straights and which has been a prominent aspect of this year's five races so far. Codemasters mentions that it was as unexpected and a big surprise for them, but since it is such a big and important part of how this year's cars behave, I would still have liked to have seen that there was a choice to activate it for those who so wanted. All in the pursuit of realism, of course. But of course it is possible that the developers will patch it in at a later time, one can simply hope.

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All in all, this year's edition of Codemasters' F1 game seems to offer more of everything we've come to love and a handful of minor but positive changes. My hours in the game spent at Silverstone, the Red Bull Ring, Circuit of the Americas, Imola and Miami have been at least as entertaining as in last year's edition and the new cars and physics make a noticeable and clear difference to the positive. The new artificial intelligence also bodes well and we are really looking forward to pushing lap times in VR mode. On the 1st of July, F1 22 will be released and for the F1 fan, it will be a safe bet that will offer more of everything we have come to love with previous titles.

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F1 22 to launch in July

F1 22 to launch in July

NEWS. Written by Ben Lyons

The next generation of the racing title will feature the Miami Grand Prix, as well as a "redefined race day experience".



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