F1 22 review: Elbows out in newly designed race cars

Formula 1 is more popular than ever and the newly implemented FIA rules and technical standards have resulted in a revolutionary new look for the fastest cars in global motorsport. F1 22 is the first official entry in the series by Codemasters under the EA umbrella following their acquisition last year. This version includes all new technical specs, tracks and several new features, including the first proper implementation of VR on PC. Now that the Formula 1 season is in full swing, let’s see how F1 22 performs.

Ready for a new era of racing

One of the main reasons to spend some money on EA’s annual sports title releases, which now include the F1 series, is to get updated rosters. The driver grid is now fully aligned with the current driver and team lineup. More than just updated rosters, however, F1 22 is introducing the new car models that match the updated style and technical specifications of the Formula 1 2022 season. New front and rear wings, iconic bigger tires and rim covers are all featured. As expected, the visual fidelity of these new cars is top notch. The liveries, sponsor decals and differences in body designs between competitors all match their real-life counterparts. At least as close as Codemasters could get at the time of development; F1 teams seem to be changing the layout of their cars from week to week this year. Fans familiar with the series will find a plethora of technical tweaks, development updates, and car setups emanating from last year’s iteration. The handling and physics have been updated to match the behavior of the new cars on the track, forcing even experienced drivers to rethink their usual setups.

The high quality of design in F1 22 extends to more than just the new cars. Several circuits have received notable updates, including Spain, Australia and Abu Dhabi. Of course, the new Miami Grand Prix also makes its first appearance in the F1 franchise and features some stunning footage of the Miami International Autodrome. To improve the driver experience, Codemasters has added new immersive and broadcast styles for pit stops, formation laps and safety car periods. Immersive options allow drivers to influence these events, control the speed of their pit stops or add extra risk during safety car laps. The broadcast option allows drivers to sit back and take a few breaths while enjoying the events from a perspective similar to that seen on TV.

One of the standout features of the series was the hi-fi audio, ranging from the engine sounds to the track atmosphere, commentary and your race engineer. In F1 22, many of these areas have been re-recorded and remastered. The race engineer has been redesigned and the commentary team has been expanded to include Natalie Pinkham, who covers F1 events for Sky Sports. Drivers can now choose from three different audio styles during their races, depending on the realism they desire. F1 22’s soundscape is one of its standout features, and steadfast Formula 1 fans will be able to easily distinguish between different engines.

While F1 22 has received many notable updates in terms of sounds, tracks and race cars, many of the problems of its predecessor remain. I found it just as difficult to introduce AI behavior into F1 22 as it was in F1 2021 and 2020. At lower difficulty levels and with a lot of assists enabled, racing the familiar tracks can be a lot of fun, but not much of a challenge. Also, to increase the difficulty, several assists must be disabled from the game and problems in other teams’ AI are quickly exposed. Competitors still brake unreasonably early in high-speed corners and then accelerate at a pace that can’t be matched without disabling features like traction control. This immediately increases the difficulty immensely, making it difficult for the average player to find that sweet spot. AI cars also occupy the racing line, weaving in obvious racing rule violations while defending positions, and continuing to drive irrationally slow and annoyingly during qualifying sessions. Don’t get me started on the number of times a collision leaves me in the gravel while the AI ​​continues without a dent. Often you end up in frustrating scenarios that you occasionally see in real racing, but with no impact on the AI ​​drivers in F1 22.

I would like to see penalties added to AI cars during qualifying sessions and more often during races. Incidents are rare unless caused by me, even with sliders bumped up. You’ve never seen such reliable cars in real life, I can tell you. Ferrari-engined teams can only dream of this level of reliability! Also many obvious bugs from previous years return. I have yet to start a race without my engineer telling me that no less than three critical engine parts have been compromised for one reason or another, even if I have just fitted brand new components. While the technician’s commentary and audio quality are excellent, the things that come out of their mouths are often less than helpful or just plain wrong. It is unfortunate that these problems persist year after year. None of them are groundbreaking, but they do detract from the immersion Codemasters and EA continue to promote.

F1 life may not be for everyone

For those concerned about the potential impact of EA’s acquisition of Codemasters on the F1 series, you’ll be pleased to hear that last year’s story mode, Braking Point, is no longer around. The feature has been replaced by a new social hub called F1 Life. This is intended to allow players to showcase their achievements in the form of trophies, accessories, fashion styles and the new Supercars collection. The idea behind F1 Life is that your friends, competitors and drivers you meet in the different multiplayer modes of F1 22 can visit your home and check out your style. Ultimately, I found this feature to be nothing more than a gimmick. The range of accessories and supercars to choose from is quite limited and smells like another way to promote the use of PitCoins.

Supercars in general seem very disappointing. Some races during Career and My Team modes include Pirelli Hot Lap Challenges that allow you to drive various expensive cars on tracks. You’ll earn acclaim by doing well in this one, but I found the supercars feel very slow. I’m not sure if it’s because the contrast between a super fast F1 race car and even a million dollar Ferrari supercar is just too big, or if they’re just poorly implemented. Controls, sound effects, textures and overall feel are day and night, and I found myself skipping most of the challenges very quickly. If you enjoy collecting fancy cars and displaying them in fictional showrooms, you can have some fun with F1 Life, but overall it feels like an effort that could have been better spent elsewhere in F1 22.

F1 22 in VR is… a game changer

For years, VR enthusiasts like yours have really been waiting for Codemasters to include official VR support in the F1 series. Well, friends, that time is finally here. F1 22 includes native VR support on PC via Steam VR, and it’s lovely. I was a little apprehensive at first, as I was spoiled with a very good implementation of VR in Microsoft Flight Simulator, and my experiences with Steam VR were less than great. But while F1 22 still forces you to spend the entire game in VR, menus and all, the virtual reality racing experience is second to none. All those issues and complaints I’ve had about not being able to see where competitors’ vehicles are, not being able to properly judge braking zones, and generally being used as a bumper car by others, disappear in VR. A real sense of depth is a crucial part of auto racing, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to return to flat screen racing after this.

F1 22 basically supports any VR headset that is compatible with Steam, which is just about everything on the market these days. In my testing, I used the HP Reverb G2 headset, powered by an Nvidia RTX 3090, and the results were buttery smooth and fast. Obviously stable frame rates are important for a good VR experience, and they are even more important when racing. You can configure the graphics options of the F1 22 specifically for VR to get the best performance. I chose the VR High preset because it offered a good compromise between smoothness and image quality. VR Medium’s kickstand also looked great.

For the first time in many F1 sim racing, I felt like I was in a race car. I leaned into corners, I looked left and right to see other cars trying to overtake me, and I could go wheel to wheel in the most Netflix Drive to Survive way imaginable. Oh, and I sweated. So much sweat. Prepare yourself! If you’ve been waiting for official VR support in the F1 series, this is it. You’re going to love it!

F1 22 is still worth picking up if you don’t have a VR headset, if only to experience the new car designs, new tracks, updated team rosters and remastered sounds. Outside of these flashy new features, the core of the game is unchanged from previous versions, for better or for worse. As with many other annual EA titles, I wish more time was spent improving the guts of the series, especially the AI ​​behavior, rather than adding social features like F1 Live, but the new ones VR implementation gives me hope. You can dream, right? Excuse me, I’m due for a new front wing replacement. Elbows out in Turn 1, drivers!

This review is based on the PC Steam release. The game key has been provided by the publisher for review. F1 22 will be available on June 28 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.

Jan has been playing video games for almost 30 years and has been a passionate geek for most of his life. When he’s not working his way through Destiny in search of more knowledge, he can often be found deep within the source code of various apps and websites. Feel free to ask him if Guardians are really bad or not, and whether or not he will give you some free technical SEO tips. You can follow him on Twitter @ChalkOne

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