Review: F1 22

The new era of Formula One racing is here as Codemasters and EA are putting it all in the latest F1 22. This season, a new car has hit the Formula One circuit with wild aerodynamics and a turbo-hybrid engine. These cars allow for much better competition and racing than what has occurred in recent history. F1 22 brings not only the cars but the circuits, teams and racers of the 2022 season. With the latest game, Codemasters has implemented a couple of additions that are outside of the box. This includes actual supercars from manufacturers that are tied to Formula One. Along with the addition of F1 life, there are subtle updates here that feel short on execution but are nonetheless welcome. The racing, however, is as good as it has ever been in F1 22.

The two main attractions outside of the car change to the 2022 F1 season is the inclusion of Sprint Races and the addition of the Miami GP, which took place a few months ago. This circuit is tremendously fun to race on and is well implemented into F1 22. Sprint Races are a new form of qualification for F1 races. This short race takes place a few times a year as the results determine the starting grid for the actual Grand Prix of that weekend while dishing out championship points at the same time. While it’s a welcome addition to the game, it should be welcome for a good shakeup for eSports leagues out there conducting championships. There are also three circuit updates for Australia, Abu Dhabi and Spain that are readily available in the game as well.

With this year being the biggest shakeup in racing for Codemasters since 2014 with the new cars, the team has introduced something completely new to the series. A big focus with F1 22 is showcasing the life of an F1 driver. Fans may notice that during downtime for drivers, they often participate in promotional events with supercars from their respected manufacturer. F1 22 features eight supercars from four different manufacturers (ten with a pre-order of the Champions Edition) and these are mostly brand new supercars that aren’t in other titles. Cars like the McLaren Artura and Ferrari Roma and F8 Tributo can be experienced first hand here. Events featuring these cars are called the Pirelli Hot Laps and are sprinkled in during the season whether it be a career or My Team.

The Pirelli Hot Laps expand only upon the random in-season events, though. There’s a separate mode that has nearly forty challenges to take part of. Whether it be Checkpoint, Average Speed, Drift or Rival Competition, the point is to set the fastest time in each mode as it rewards medals. During a Career, money is rewarded for achieving the medals. What’s special about these cars is that they’re not just plain and thrown in the game. F1 22 features an overhauled physics engine in general, but every car feels and sounds different and marvelous. These are difficult to drive and even at high speed, becoming unstable. The tires lack the grip of the F1 cars in the game making these much more of a fun handful to drive. Plenty of these challenges take place in the wet, so get ready for that battle. The interiors are brilliantly detailed and while Codemasters has the GRID series, these cars make me want a sim-focused racing game on the EGO engine with these physics.

These supercars are thinking outside of the box, but fans of Formula One want a F1 game that focuses on F1. While Codemasters and EA have added the likes of Jacques Villeneuve and David Coultard as drivers for My Team, the lack of vintage cars and tracks once again hurts. Legacy drivers including Schumacher, Senna and Prost remain in the mode, but having classic cars dating back to the 1970s with legacy tracks thrown in is deeply missing. I will say that competing in the Pirelli Hot Laps is more than just a break as driving and experiencing each of these cars is addictive. Unfortunately, outside of time trials, there are no other modes to race these cars. It’s worth noting that these cars don’t have to be purchased since the game rewards the player with a token to unlock each car based on the miles driven in the game.

The physics for the actual F1 cars have been updated to better mimic the latest cars. What’s great about the implementation of the actual racing this year is that it’s suitable for any difficulty. With full assists on and the new Adaptive AI for the casual race setting, new racers can be brought along and still be challenged. The AI will adapt to the players position on the track to assist with pacing issues. Players can throw traction control on medium and will need to watch out for the sweeping corners that go back and forth at certain tracks. I was actually able to drift some of these cars as the rear tires seem much less forgiving. Taking off all the assists in the game will throw a handful at the player. This should be an adjustment to even the best players as the grip limits have changed and the trajectory through corners will be different. The cars still feel rather loose yet responsive. It’s also worth noting that purpoising, a major topic of conversation with F1 this year in how the car bounces, is not a part of the game. I understand it would take the fun side out of it if the cars are constantly bouncing, but there’s a realism factor in there.

Racing against the AI feels improved no matter the setting. The difficulty can be adjusted with a bar, but seeing how it reacts on the track is pretty straight forward. It doesn’t try to do too much, but it knows where the player is on the track. I have had cars in front of me in a DRS zone go for defensive maneuvers on the straight and I have also had cars box me either in or out on corners. The game does have up to date ratings for the drivers and manufacturers, but Codemasters does like to still pretend that Lewis Hamilton is still a championship contender. Codemasters has also introduced new interactive activities during races. Immersive and Broadcast options are available for safety cars and pit stops. Basically this allows players to still interact with downtime during a race. The term “immersive” is far fetched when it comes to pit stops, though. Players are given a timer and a prompt to pit. Yes, this can affect the outcome of a race if the player messes up and this may be a bigger thing with eSports leagues, but the implementation is shallow. Broadcast just allows these events to take place on their own. The additions are something subtle but end up more on the short end.

Encompassing the representation of the life of an F1 driver in F1 22 is a new mode called F1 Life. The game shows the player’s house in the background of menus as the interior can be designed with furniture and players can have friend avatars hanging out in the house. Players can put supercars on display, check out trophies and replays, and kind of lay out the groundwork to set a vibe. This mode also comes off shortsighted and sits behind microtransactions. There aren’t a lot of options for decorating and most of the items have to be bought. The same can be said for customizing the driver in the game. It’s still baffling why there is no face creation tool and why players are still limited to generic faces. The modes in the game remain relatively the same yet Codemasters removed the story mode from last year and didn’t follow up on it. My Team and Career are the focus here with the ability to do a two-player career if you have someone else to play with to do this. This includes the full R&D for the team of the player’s choice and the ability to take a current team or create an additional team. Strangely, Codemasters removed the interview questions between races that had an effect on various R&D departments. Otherwise, players can expect season, Grand Prix, splitscreen multiplayer, online multiplayer and time trials along with the previously mentioned Pirelli Hot Laps. Online multiplayer retains the same lobby system and matchup system that has been seen in the past with no official online championships. Overall, there has still been no progress with this, but hopefully the bugs from last year won’t carry over to this year for online races.

F1 22 on current generation consoles is undoubtedly the best looking version of the game ever made. Players still have a choice between choosing a quality mode or a performance mode that literally runs at 60 FPS or 120 FPS flawlessly. While VRR isn’t implemented into the title, the gameplay is ridiculously smooth no matter which mode is chosen. There’s no screen tearing outside of an occasional cutscene. Couple this with revamped lighting that brings both the circuit environments and the cars to life. The reflections on the cars are gorgeous and there are even reflections on the halo when inside the cockpit view. Racing in the rain ups the visual ante with excellent reflections and environment depth across the board. The performance mode also seems to be much more detailed with better assets than last year. Face models are the most detailed to date and the overall optimization of this game on PlayStation 5 is excellent.

Codemasters has finally changed up the presentation elements as well. There’s a new podium celebration with post race cutscenes and new pre-race interfaces. There’s also a new commentary team this year with players have the choice between Crofty or Alex Jacques. There’s also a new chief engineer for the first time in years. These are all easy ways to freshen up the experience that was long due for an update. The team doubled down on audio this year with providing three different audio experiences. The Broadcast option looks to provide an experienced that would be heard on TV while Cinematic looks for dramatic effects. The Drive mode, which is the most important, focuses on the noises of the car when in the cockpit. The new engines sound fantastic as there are different layers to acceleration. The audio team did a tremendous job on making the overall audio experience immersive. The one gripe with the audio does come from the supercars. The tire squeal with the supercars just doesn’t sound that good. EA also put its official “stamp of approval” in this game with including EA Trax for the first time, which is a combination of electronic music. This takes away from the drama that the traditional F1 theme brings to the table.

While this version was reviewed on PlayStation 5, the PC version has VR capabilities this year with modern VR headsets. A much-requested mode from the community that will hopefully make its way over to PS5 once the PSVR 2 gets released, the immersion with this mode was fantastic in the time that was spent with it. Having a wheel and a headset, being able to easily check mirrors, take in some legendary areas on circuits and overall better navigate the track is a game changer that will make it hard to go back. In testing prior to release with an RTX 3060, the game was playable in 1080p at 60 FPS with the settings cranked. If you have the opportunity to go this route and don’t care much about DualSense controls, this is highly recommended.

Closing Comments:

What makes F1 22 great are the improvements to the core technical aspects. The new cars look and sound amazing as the game is buttery smooth across the board. The new physics with the new cars will challenge even the pros up front until they figure out their setups. The supercars on the Pirelli Hot Laps are fun to play around with, but I’m assuming that licensing issues prevented Codemasters from having a deeper implementation into the game. The point is a return is needed for classic cars and to add even more from different generations. Otherwise, the new additions are slight improvements, but underwhelming. The pit box integration is better than having nothing, but once that timing is down, it doesn’t amount to much. The limited gameplay mode selection and the reduction of major aspects does sting. I will give kudos to Codemasters for trying some new things and while nothing flopped, it was played safe. What matters most is what happens on the track and F1 22 offers the best racing the series has seen.