Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: F1 2012 [w/video]

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Racing Franchise Reboot Is Powerfully Fun, But Flawed

Codemasters is back with a follow-up to its successful - some might go so far as to say genre defining - Formula One franchise, with F1 2012. This season's iteration of the racing title is every bit as beautiful, challenging and engaging to the racing-obsessed gamer as last year's version, though it's far from perfect.

If you can get by the oddly cartoonish and badly cropped image on the front of the box, you'll quickly find that the level of graphical detail in F1 is quite impressive. The cars are clearly the stars of the show here, with every one of the five driving vantage points (ranging from right in the cockpit of the car to a "far chase" position that puts the entire exterior of your vehicle in view) renders the racecar in elegant detail. Reflections and the play of light are evident on the car's bodywork; slick tires are easily differentiated from intermediates and intermediates from full-wets; gravel, grass and dirt all mar the surface of the rear rubber if you go off-track at all; and passing competitor cars are just as vibrant as your own, with high enough frame rates to avoid pixilation or blur.

On the downside, the stuff surrounding your racecar is far less detailed than the machine itself. Each event begins with some flyover shots of the track you're competing on - those higher effort, short cut scenes are fairly nice looking, if still less detailed than the racecars themselves. Pay close attention to the off-track scenery while you're driving, however, and you'll notice that the backgrounds are pretty flat and free of complex surfacing. That's okay, as the overall difficulty of gameplay dictates that you focus on the track, not the grandstands, but it does make the F1 2012 world feel less rich than it might otherwise. One exception to this, though kind of a big one, is the rendering of the sky and the weather seen therein. The Codemasters team has done an exceptional job mimicking the rapidly changing heavens that play such an important part in any real race weekend, with lifelike color and drama, as well as fluid movement.

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F1 2012 [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 21 Sep 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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