RACING

F1 2022 review: Money-focused, flawed and still thrilling

ADVERTISEMENT

The F1 2022 The video game promises to deliver a more realistic racing experience tailored to new cars, along with all of this year’s tracks and your chance to compete for the title, as always. Despite unwelcome monetization and a total absence of a story mode, F1 2022 still does the job for every potential champion sitting in their living room. At the same time, it’s not much better than the game it succeeds at.

Some household reviews: I played F1 2022 on an Xbox One, using a controller. I haven’t had a chance to try out the VR options so those aren’t included in this. I played just over 20 hours before writing my thoughts here.

ADVERTISEMENT

The new title contains everything you would expect from an F1 game: racing cars, race tracks, development, teams, you know how it goes. But there is one notable exception is that it returns to the story mode which entered softly into F1 2020 and entirely in F1 2021. It was called Braking Point, and it wasn’t a big work of cinematic significance; in fact, it really pissed me off. But not having it now made the game feel strangely incomplete.

When you start F1 2022 it starts in a kind of strange place; you are not on a race track or a factory. Instead, you relax in some kind of LA-like mansion with your friends. This is F1 Life, your new home that you don’t care about and will never see, which I guess is pretty accurate for an F1 driver’s mansion in Los Angeles, but also feels like programming very unnecessary.

That’s until you realize this is where you can fill a garage with supercars and equip yourself with all the Anti-Social Social Club virtual drops you want, via Pitcoins. Yes, these are just as fraudulent as what they are named after. It’s kind of hard to hit you in the face with a monetization option, which essentially results in a non-interactive version of The Simsstraight out of the blocks, but F1 Life is somehow the only way to change the game beyond your race results.

Once I escaped my NFT entourage and went into career mode, I automatically went to Formula 2, the best junior series before F1. I really love F2 – I cover it and it’s a fun series to watch – and since the F2 career path was introduced I’ve always played it, but it certainly didn’t feel like a huge addition this time, let alone essential.

It made me realize how much I miss story mode. It seemed very thin that there was simply nothing, no narrative or characterization around anything. F2 isn’t the same without the loathsome (and totally fictional) Devon Butler, and it hurts to develop a bubbling resentment towards real F2 driver Alessio Deledda just because he was my teammate and continued to bother me. However, I have found that you can go pretty fast around Jeddah while literally pushing another F2 for a better team result.

A change for 2022 is that Jeff, the eternal engineer of the F1 series, was replaced by real F1 mechanic Marc Priestley. Depending on your mileage, that will either mean you have a nice, smooth voice delivering essentially the same lines as Jeff, or if you happened to work in the same paddock as Marc for years, you end up screaming ” I broke a coffee machine with you, don’t tell me what to do with the tires” on TV during a moment of depression.

Without story mode or rivalry, F2 passes fairly anonymously. Oddly, although F1 teams are updated with 2022 rosters, F2 ones are using 2021 ones. This means there are small inconsistencies, such as the presence of the HWA team while VAR does not It’s not, if you like Junior Series shifts. Moving up to F1 is obviously the meat of the game, along with the 2022 cars.

They are delicate beasts, porpoising, bouncing and battling tire temperatures. Real racing teams can’t simulate their behaviors properly, so I didn’t really expect the F1 game to do that, especially since it never really simulated the previous aero era. It’s not like you’re doomed to hang around in your starting position because it’s nearly impossible to overtake in F1 2019 or that the cars couldn’t drive much, much closer than they ever could on the track.

I haven’t driven a 2022 car in real life, so it’s hard to say if they really captured the same feel, but overall it really didn’t feel all that different. Fine-tuning configurations, if you’re really going into engineering, probably has major impacts, but for the majority of gamers, it will feel like the F1 games always have. I didn’t find anything in the configuration items I fiddled with that drastically changed things in a way that I wouldn’t have expected from previous games.

That said, I can’t pretend I’m a regular F1 league racer or anything like that, and I’ve been frustrated many times with the game expecting me to know how to do everything. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m finally getting old, but trying to find settings to change felt messy, interrupting a series of runs to tweak something minor and ending up searching the menus for where the setting was specific.

Working on things is a natural part of progression in any game, but since I was playing casual mode to try and do as much as possible for the exam, I wanted to give myself some hints that would have could have been useful, at least as something a more experienced player could turn off. Likewise, there were a few things – steering assist and an AI tweak that slows the pack to stay with you if you’re really struggling – that the game might have automatically suggested if you had a few disastrous turns. and needed encouragement, rather than risk people thinking it was just impossible.

I’m terrible F1 2022 at almost incomprehensible levels, but I managed to get a pole position and a podium at the end of my first season. I had gone through the game way too fast and skipped most practices so I definitely wasn’t progressing the way someone would properly, and I want to start over, but at least it felt like sinking hours into it got you somewhere. And the hours passed quite easily, even when I was getting angry at both the game and myself. As with previous installments in the franchise, it’s not hard to find yourself thinking “Yeah, just one more ride and then I’ll make dinner.”

Maybe I should have spent focused time on each track instead of thinking about how, without the story mode, everything became a bit the same as in single player. The new tracks are going well; Miami is about as much fun as it is on the other side of the Atlantic, which is to say I would never happily drive around Miami again. Meanwhile, the tuned Yas Marina was awesome and not just because that’s where I finally got pole and celebrated with the unorthodox choice of picking up my 17 pound furry cat as a Pirelli trophy because, yeah , I had invested that .

That’s the thing, that’s a F1 game. If you’re an F1 fan (and I really am), this lets you kinda live out the fantasy of being an F1 driver for a while, regardless of your starting skill level or if you have a simulation platform or if you’ll ever play it competitively. Even without an overarching narrative, your season falls into one: heartbreakingly shattered from your first endpoint, an AI rivalry that convinced you that you and Nicholas Latifi are destined to be mortal enemies. And when you get to spray the virtual champagne, you always feel like you’ve accomplished something. Competing, and especially winning, is always fun.

It’s just when he offers to put your trophy in your fake mansion, with your fake friends hanging around, that puts a Metaverse-y brake on it. Yeah, I wanna pretend I’m an F1 driver, not a losing.

Got a story tip? Email it to tips@thedrive.com

ADVERTISEMENT