A new era of Formula 1 has arrived with regulations designed to allow for closer and more exciting racing. New Sprint races have also been added to certain venues, the winner of which earns pole position for the actual Grand Prix the following day.
According to the blurb F1 22 has overhauled physics, handling and tyre models that accurately reflect the real-world performance. Well we'll see about that, won't we...?
The ubiquitous career mode has now been supplemented with various modes; F1 Life, Solo (Make your own custom Grand Prix or season), Time Trial and Pirelli Hot Laps (a series of 30 Gran Turismo-like tests and challenges for the supercars now included in the game.)
Multiplayer now has Social Play (complete with "Beginner Friendly" and "Experienced Driver" sessions); Weekly Events; a Splitscreen mode (yay!); Ranked Play; Previous Results and Leagues. The online racing is really good, and highly addictive when racing with players who actually want to race, and crossplay really helps this (if turned on you could be racing against players on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 or PC (Steam & Origin/EA Play.) I genuinely wish I had more time to play F1 22 online. The game has a cracking split screen mode too if you want to settle those Max Vs Lewis arguments from the comfort of your own couch.
The new customisable player hub –F1® Life– is home to the Brand and Items Shops (gear for your avatar), Podium Pass (unlocks from your progress); The Store (where you can buy Pitcoin, the in-game currency), Friends; Mail (including awards and unlocks) and Super Licence (Your rank, trophy cabinet & stats.)
One of your first tasks is to pick an academy, and then to choose whether or not you want to nurse yourself into F1 with an F2 drive or dive straight in. Then you can pick your own supercar from a selection manufactured by the likes of Mercedes, Aston Martin, McLaren and Ferrari–it's a hard life being an F1 driver, ain't it? The Pirelli Hot Laps really give you a chance to give the selection of supercars a workout, and if nothing else make you appreciate just how amazingly quick F1 cars are...
The game's presentation is generally very glossy, with the real branding, music, commentators etc, but then I noticed a rendered victory sequence that shows you doing donuts without tyre smoke? Oops.
As pleasing to the eye as it is with its silky frame rate and detailed cars and tracks, my eyes tell me that F1 22 still lags behind Gran Turismo 7 in the photo realism stakes, and probably behind its stablemate GRiD Legends and Forza Horizon 5 too.
The replays now look great, and don't stutter anymore, and I still have no idea how they allow you to watch an entire race while some games can't even manage a 30-second replay, but the replay camera that everyone wants to see the action from (the TV-style camera) still arbitrarily decides to switch to an impressive over-the-shoulder type view, which is great–but not what I chose! As for in-game cameras we get no less than 8! to choose from, and although I always use the cockpit or pod camera view I was pleased to see that the chase cams now get equally hampered by spray in wet races–it's about time!
New to F1 22 is Adaptive AI, which can be found when selecting "Race Style–Casual" in the Simulation Settings. Both "Normal" and "Full" provide adaptable levels of difficulty which makes all AI competitors react to the players position and performance on track, making for closer and more competitive AI races than ever before.
As in previous years F1 22 is introduced and "outro'd" by SKY commentator David Croft with appearances by SKY regulars Ant Davidson, Natalie Pinkham and Alex Jaques, which is great and gives the game an authentic feel, but you still hear too many recycled comments and sadly, we still get that babbling idiot Davide Valsecchi on F2 races.
All in all, despite some annoying bits and a slightly disappointing replay mode, this is an amazing package that looks great and is a genuine improvement on last year's excellent game, and while it still has limited appeal it's surely a must buy for F1 fans.