F1 22 Review: Brilliant racing experience
Formula 1's new era has begun and in these four months, the entire circus of F1 stars and their dashing cars provide immense entertainment. Hence, when EA announced the new F1 22 game a while ago, expectations were high. New cars, new regulations, and the brilliant My Team mode from the previous year's game are something F1 fans have been eagerly waiting to be presented in a modern and fresh avatar. After all, the F1 games have largely remained unchanged since F1 2016. And there comes F1 22 – a new name with a new direction for the F1 franchise that may disappoint long-time fans.
With the F1 22, the developers have wanted to provide an immersive experience into the life of a Formula 1 driver; and this time it will be more than just choosing your avatar and its name. F1 22 brings F1 Life into the mix that lets you feel exactly how Lewis Hamilton does on a weekend, and then experience the good old F1 racing. This may appeal to a certain crowd but for die-hard F1 fans, this proves to be a bit of a let-down. And after spending close to 20 hours on the game, I wish EA and Codemasters had done more.
Before we dive in, know that F1 22 is available on Steam and Origin on PC, and we tested the game on Origin on a Asus ROG Z Flow 13 and MSI Stealth gaming laptop; both having mid-range specs. The game is also available on Xbox and PlayStation. It starts at Rs. 2,999 for the standard edition, and goes up to Rs. 4299 for the Champions Edition.
F1 22: What's new and is it any good?
After last year's focus on the cringe-inducing “Braking Point” story mode, Codemasters and EA have gone for a different take on the big gimmick for the F1 game this year – F1 Life. As the name suggests, this is all about feeling like a F1 driver and doing all the things that Sebastian Vettel does before a race weekend, which includes doing Pirelli Hot Laps in select supercars around race tracks. You also get to have your own living place where you decorate it carpets, furniture, marble types, exhibition supercars, posters, and deck up your avatar with shirts, trousers, PUMA shoes, and so on. Wait what? Is this a F1 game or an EA FIFA title?
EA desperately wants you to spend time here and even purchase some of those special clothing accessories, which is why you are thrown into this F1 Life lounge right from the beginning. And honestly, it gets boring after a while. Maybe if this was integrated into the career mode, it could have been different, but F1 Life seems like a useless addition. And that's coming from a hardcore F1 fan.
F1 22 Gameplay
Once you are past the F1 Life, F1 22 is essentially the same game that you had played in 2021, and even in 2020! That's not a bad deal given that the F1 series provides a brilliant racing experience closer to the real deal. And racing is where you need to put in a lot of time and effort this year, since the new 2022 regulation cars behave like a boat!
Coming from F1 2021, the 2022 Formula 1 cars in the game lack the precision in handling, aero and race pace. The cars tend to understeer a lot and it is easy to lose the grip coming out of a corner. Trackside kerbs are deadlier this year – not only do they damage the underbody but they also spin your car out in the same manner as Sebastian Vettel. The new aero regulations are visible too, allowing you to stay closer to the cars lap after lap, doing a lot of racing in the process. The new tyre model is authentic in the way it handles temperatures but makes it tricky to keep the car straight when coming out of the pits.
The AI has also seen upgrades. I play in the Expert mode and the AI drivers make racing a challenge. AI drivers of Lewis Hamilton, Alonso, LeClerc, and Max Verstappen tend to violently swerve into your car when the gap narrows down. If you keep defending the AI in the same way at all corners, they will try different tricks to get past you. Catching them in the straights is tricky and it seems there is a bug – how can a Williams walk past the Ferrari F1 75? Codies need to sort out the bugs.
If you are a sucker for realism, F1 22 has got that. Racing is fun but the realism only adds to the challenge. The new manual pitstop is fun and so is the manual starting procedure; those wanting the TV experience may opt for the broadcast style playback that lets the AI take care of your car. Car sounds are better than ever, and fans will love the way the Mercedes, Alpine and Ferrari engines sound. The Red Bull PowerTrains engine could have done with better recordings.
The career mode brings back My Team and Driver modes – you either play as a team manager or an individual driver. The driver mode lets you graduate from F2 to F1, or jump straight to F1 cars. My Team mode lets you start either as a backmarker team, or a mid-field player. You can even choose to start as a big gun with lots of money and resources. You have the choice to be the kind of team you want, which is a great thing. The most fun lies with being a backmarker team doing a points finish feels like a surreal experience, and the desire to keep going stays.
Both career modes get the Pirelli Hot Laps as a replacement to the time trial feature in Classic F1 cars in the old games. The supercars are fun to drive and they sound authentic too, but you only get to set lap times in them – no racing allowed in these. Plus, the car modes don't look as appealing as they do in Forza Horizon 5.
Lastly, the F1 Sprint also debuts in F1 22. In the career mode, you get them only on those race weekends as the real-life counterpart. You can have F1 Sprint in all races too in the Quick Race mode. It only adds more racing to the mix and for fans of racing, it cannot get any better.
Damage model on F1 22 is largely similar to F1 2021. The bodywork takes damage and you lose the front wings and wheels in the vent of a crash. Tyre punctures are a thing too and they make it tricky to make it back to the pits. Visual deformity isn't very good though and I wish Codemasters had worked harder on this front. Still, wheel-to-wheel racing exposes you to the danger of damaged side pods and floor pans, thereby making it exhilarating.
And then there's the commentary. Other than Martin Brundle and David Croft, F1 22 brings commentary voices of Alex Jacques, Natalie Pinkham; and for some regions, Jacques Villeneuve, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sascha Roos. And yes, the super annoying Jeff has been kicked out as the race engineer and in his place now sits former McLaren mechanic turned presenter Marc Priestley. All of this only makes the experience seem real.
Rest of the stuff is carried over from F1 2021, which includes F2 races, split-screen multiplayer and online lobbies, the latter promising mad racing experiences.
F1 22 Graphics
This is where F1 22 disappoints a bit. Make no mistake, F1 22 is a beautiful game to look at, with highly detailed cars and tracks. In fact, F1 fans can nerd over the tiny details of the Aston Martin and Ferrari cars, especially with regards to the aero elements. Even the driver avatars are representable of the real-world stars. The lighting effect is nice and with ray tracing added for the main menu, it all looks nice to the eyes of someone who has only played the F1 games over the years.
Compared to other racing titles though, F1 22 looks old. Codemasters has once again used the Ego Engine 4 that has been doing duty since F1 2016. Despite all the graphics enhancements and better textures, the engine looks old and is in dire need of an update. Trackside details look shabby and so do the showroom graphics. Other than the F1 cars and race tracks, everything else looks from a game that was designed in 2016. It is specifically visible in the weather effects – the game looks bad when it is cloudy, and the rain effects feel inadequate. In comparison, the long-discontinued Forza Motorsport 7 from 2017 still looks much better overall.
The old engine allows for better compatibility with entry-level systems though and hence, F1 2022 works easily with older PCs having NVIDIA GTX 1650 cards and older Core i5 processors.
Let's get the basics sorted first – F1 22 is a brilliant racing game by all means, and for an F1 fan, you cannot get this experience anywhere else. The racing experience is superbly authentic and fun, while the career modes only further the F1 fandom. You get the new tracks and the new 2022 cars, all of which make it easy to recommend the game to the fans. And if you are solely seeking the 2022 Formula 1 racing experience, you need to pick up F1 22 anyhow.
For those looking for more, the game leaves a lot to be desired. F1 Life is a genuine and commendable effort from Codemasters but it has got too much of EA microtransactions writer all over it; and there's nothing in here to pull you to the mode after the first setup. The graphics engine looks and feels old too for a 2022 racing game, and some stability issues as well as bugs need to be fixed.
Overall though, F1 22 does the most important thing well that it needs to – be a solid Formula 1 racer. Just wait for the prices to drop during the festive sales and then go for it.
- Great racing experience
- Lots of modes to keep you going
- Easy to run on old PCs
- F1 Life is boring
- Graphics could be better
Platforms supportedPC. Xbox, PlayStation