For the second Formula One game under EA Sports’ stewardship, Codemasters drop the 20 to simply give us F1 22. But it’s not just the name format that’s changed.
EA Sports iterative sport games are a licence to print money. Each year, dedicated fans splash out cash for the new games that usually feature a slight graphical scrub up, refined physics, new teams, liveries, strips, uniforms, players, drivers, tracks, stadiums and rules. To the casual observer, each iteration looks eyebrow raisingly about the same as the last. Of course, that’s not the case otherwise fans wouldn’t buy them and EA Sports titles wouldn’t be the best-sellers that they are each year.
With their Formula One games, Codemasters peaked with their graphical prowess a couple of years back. And, as you’d expect, F1 22 still looks utterly amazing. The cars, the circuits, the crowds all look superb.
The other important aspect of the game that, again, Codemasters have refined to perfection is the car handling. Gone is the snatchy handling of the earlier games. Of course, a racing wheel is preferable, but even when using a game controller, inputs are positive and you really feel in control of the powerful cars.
The breakneck speeds and technical circuits create a very hazardous driving environment the requires precision and discipline. With the numerous driver assists turned off, its not an easy game, but never once did I feel myself fighting against the controls. All my crashes were of my own doing. A perfect lap, is still so satisfying.
F1 22 adds quite a few features. The “F1 Life” driver and lounge area customisation was wasted on me. Why anyone would want to dress up their driver like a Barbie doll or use the game for interior decorating is beyond me.
The game is riddled with microtransactions with in-game currency (that can be topped up with real money) mainly unlocking cosmetics. Whilst I’m not a fan of this sort of thing, its easily ignored.
There are some supercars that you can add to your garage and even take for a race around the circuits. This was interesting, although the Aston Martin wasn’t really tuned for the Formula One circuits making the experience a little frustrating. The whole F1 Life feature is a curious addition, though, to be honest.
On the more positive side, year’s game also boasts updated physics, safety cars pitstops and formation laps.
The game has a beefy list of racing modes for players to choose from. They are all based around the 23 real Formula One circuits included in the game, but offer a bit of gameplay variety. As well as the teams and drivers from the Formula One 2022 season, the game also features the same from the Formula Two 2021 season.
The game features a single and two-player career mode allowing friends to race together or against each other. Players can choose to race for a real F1 teams or create their own.
The solo mode allows players to make their own custom Grand Prix championship, partake in time trials and try their hand at the Pirelli hot lap challenges. The Pirelli hot laps feature supercars rather than Formula One cars and require players to maintain set speeds, do some drifting, race through checkpoint navigate though cones and compete in head-to-head duels.
The multiplayer options let players compete in social and ranked races, take part in weekly events and create or join leagues. The game even caters for split screen and LAN multiplayer. For many, this community aspect of the game will be the reason to sign on for this 2022 edition.
For PC owners, especially those that REALLY want to feel immersed into what it’s like to drive an Formula One car, EA Sports and Codemasters have cranked things up to 11. They dabbled before with the likes of Dirt Rally, but for F1 22, for the very first time, players can experience the entire game in virtual reality. Owners of a suitably-powerful PC and a compatible Oculus, Index or Vive VR headset can experience the game in VR.
I tested the game with a Vive Pro 2 VR headset. The PC was running an Intel Core i9 12900K in an MSI Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard with 32GB of PNY DDR5 memory and a PNY RTX 3090 GPU.
The above spec ran the game easily at max setting in 4K, but VR is a resource-hungry experience known to bring even the most powerful machine to their knees. Thankfully, Codemasters’ optimised VR code made the game run blisteringly fast.
In VR, the menu screens are still flat, like on a projector screen. It’s only once in a race that the 3D world envelopes the player in immersive VR. The game places the player in the cockpit of a Formula One car for a racing experience matched only by the likes of the Project CARS games. The Project CARS developer, Slightly Mad Studios was acquired by Codemasters in 2019, and is perhaps a catalyst for this VR mode.
Playing F1 22 in VR is the next best thing to actually racing in a Formula One car. It’s absolutely breathtaking and almost overwhelming. Virtual Reality transforms F1 22 from a game into a Formula One simulator. With my Thrustmaster T300RS I was transported into a Formula One car. The level of immersion and depth perception gave me a better “feel” for the car, allowing for more precise and cleaner racing. It felt more like driving the car rather than controlling the car.
The whole F1 22 VR experience is incredible and thoroughly recommended. Its so far removed and immersive compared to the console or PC-with-monitor gameplay that its almost another game entirely.
For F1 fans getting the game is a no brainer. On the surface, it may seem tweaked iteration of last years game. It’s got a bit more polish and the handling feel a bit tighter, but still as unforgiving. The driver AI seems a little sharper as well. For me though, it’s the VR implementation is what makes the game.
For PC owners with a decent VR set-up F1 22 is a great game that is made into something amazing in VR. PC VR racing fans should not miss out on buying this game. For everyone else, this is a solid Formula One offering that ticks all the right boxes. The comprehensive solo gameplay along with robust multiplayer options makes F1 22 the complete package.
Rating: Very Good