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December 2023

F1 22

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Codemasters
Release Date: July 1, 2022

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'F1 22'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 10, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

F1 22 will feature new hybrid cars, an F1 Life feature, F1 Sprint races, PC VR functionality via Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and a more competitive and unpredictable line-up than ever before.

With all the changes that the 2022 season has brought to the world of Formula One, F1 22 is something of a rarity. Despite it being a series that gets an annual release, this year's iteration is important because of 2022's changes and a big new feature. This year's F1 offering comes with VR support, which allows players to get a brand-new perspective of driving an F1 car. The game also adds some minor quality of life improvements to some areas of the gameplay, but the new "F1 Life" and supercar features aren't compelling additions.

In response to the new regulations and the new aero rules that took effect in the 2022 season, the developers behind F1 22 have touted that the new game has improved physics and an updated model for handling tires. Having played a fair amount of the previous two games in the series, it is still difficult to pin down the improvements. Compared to last year's release, the cars have slightly improved handling characteristics, especially during high-speed turns and in how contact with kerbs results in more predictable car behavior.

They made their debut in the 2021 Formula One season, but sprint races are now a part of the series. Traditionally, race weekends are first a series of three practice sessions, a qualifying session to see the grid order for the race, and then the grand prix race itself. Sprint races are comparatively short races that have a grid order set by the results of qualifying, but it is the resulting order of the sprint race that dictates the grid order for the actual grand prix. It is an interesting way to mix things up, but as it is with the real-life version, I am not sure it adds to the experience of a race weekend in any meaningful way.

If you have a compatible VR headset and enjoy the idea of racing an F1 car in virtual reality, that alone may compel you to pick up the game. All of the game's menus are shown via a big 2D screen, but any time you are in the car, the game is presented in glorious virtual reality. I've always been a big proponent of using VR in racing games, as it allows you to look ahead to the apex in a very natural way and gives a better sense of immersion. In my experience with F1 22, I checked out the feature using an Oculus Rift S, and while the VR options in-game are minimal, it also feels like a very well-integrated experience … when it works.

Using an Oculus headset with a game that only supports SteamVR can involve odd rituals to get things to work properly, and in F1 22's case, it took me a few failed attempts to get things rolling. The game will unhelpfully tell you to put on the VR headset — even as that message is being shown on the headset's screen. It's only bypassed by making sure the game window has focus by clicking on it with the mouse. On some occasions, the game crashes to desktop right before loading into a race, but only while playing in VR. I suspect these are bugs that will be patched out, but it certainly made for a less than smooth launch experience when it comes to the game's VR support.

It's worth getting the feature to work either way, as it significantly improves the experience. In the VR mode, you lose most of the HUD elements, such as the minimap and your position in the race, but that only increases the immersion. In VR, it is much more intuitive to look ahead and find a turn's apex. Driving through the rain results in the effect of raindrops collecting on your helmet's visor before falling away. It also smartly changes transitions to avoid causing any distress, such as changing the zooming transition into the pit screens as used in normal gameplay into fading out and then back into them while playing in VR.

This release also adds the "F1 Life" feature, which I'm not sure adds much to the experience. In it, your racing avatar also owns a luxurious apartment, which you can choose the decorations within and unlock new ones via gameplay. Since you're a high-rolling F1 star, you can also unlock and place up to six supercars to show off within your apartment. The feature is touted as a place where players can check out other player's spaces, but there's absolutely no point in doing so. You can go through the effort of picking a couch and a matching rug and avoid choosing wall art that clashes with your bookshelves, but you could also just play The Sims.

It isn't the only new feature that doesn't pull its weight. The supercars mentioned previously can also be driven on track via the "Pirelli Hot Laps" feature, which is an odd addition. I can't imagine there are too many people who pick up a Formula One game and say, "You know what, I'd rather drive a slower, less performant car instead," and even those folks will find the handling of the cars to be categorically awful. Even minor applications of the throttle results in horrendous wheelspin, and their understeer is so bad at 30 mph that I'm not sure the real performance of any car was used as a benchmark, let alone the real-life variants of the cars in question. This feature isn't even fully avoidable; the career mode has you do one in between every race of a season, and avoiding them also means giving up valuable money and resource points.

There are other odd changes to the game this year, but they're of lesser consequence. The game ships with a bunch of EA Tracks that form the default background music from a bunch of artists I've never heard of. All you must do is go into the game options and switch the music back to the normal themes, so it doesn't have to be an issue for long. It is an odd experience to fire up a Formula One game to get into some racing … but first, you are forced to decorate your apartment while listening to what I can only describe as Dollar Store Lil' Kim. EA, you don't have to shove licensed music into everything, and its inclusion into F1 22 feels as out of place as it does forced.

There are some good changes, and while none of them are massive on their own, they improve the game in many ways. It's smaller things like seeing an on-track graphical representation of your current tire wear program overlaid onto the track surface, so you can see the areas where you've been easy or hard on the tires in subsequent laps of the program. The representation of that wear in a graph shows the entire lap over time as opposed to a slider that only shows the current status. You can press a button during a practice session to skip to the end of a repair job instead of babysitting the accelerate time button.

Beyond that, much of the game feels like a lift and shift from F1 2021. The career mode is largely unchanged, as is the cooperative play and multiplayer in a general sense. The podium pass system to unlock new liveries and gear is the same, as is the paid version of it to also unlock premium items. Effectively all the menus are the same, as are the features within them. This isn't a problem; the merit of the new game is in the positive things noted previously, and anything else is otherwise unchanged. The only thing missing when compared to last year's game is there is no "Braking Point"-style story mode.

The graphics of the game are moderately improved, with ray tracing now available all the time as opposed to only in certain, non-racing circumstances in the previous game. Lighting seems improved this time around, with sunbeams and "god rays" more noticeable. Little details are deflected more accurately in the liveries of the cars, and slight reflections are captured in some of the interior bits. It's the best-looking game of the series so far, but it reuses a lot of the same assets from at least the last couple of entries.

The biggest draw of F1 22 may likely depend on if you are interested in the VR support, as the game's implementation of VR is quite good. Beyond that, unless you are a Formula One fanatic and need to keep up on the current season, the other new main features are best left ignored. It is still a solid racing game, and no other game delivers such a comprehensive F1 experience. Beyond VR, it's unfortunate that every new feature added to F1 22 is a misfire.

Score: 8.7/10

Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia RTX 3080, Thrustmaster TMX Pro, Spectre Carbon 2.0 Racing Cockpit, Oculus Rift S

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