We’re back in the driver’s seat once more; here’s our full review of EA Sports & Codemasters’ F1 22.

Codemasters is back with another yearly installment of the F1 series, and it’s safe to say that it hits the mark once again. For those looking for high-octane racing in some of the world’s fastest racecars, there’s likely no better way to get behind the wheel than with the annual F1 release.

With F1 22, the team is trying to make the biggest and best title yet. But has Codemasters finally found the winning formula?

The good news is that F1 22’s visuals and sound design are better than ever. All the game’s circuits look incredible, including the brand-new Miami International Autodrome. And of course, the cars themselves are stunning.

What some sports games are still yet to get right, however, are human beings. I’m not talking about the crowd here, after all, you rarely notice that cheering array of similar animations, but the drivers themselves still look a little on the rough side.

F1 22 Race Start

Ranging from relatively decent to just-about-recognizable, the game’s cast of drivers still doesn’t look flawless in an otherwise beautiful game. In fact, presenter Will Buxton’s character model certainly seems to have had the most effort put into making it look accurate, and he isn’t a major part of your F1 22 experience.

Speaking of drivers, F1 22 once again allows you to design your own racer, and pick the team of your choice in Career Mode. I chose to race alongside Charles Leclerc in the hopes of bringing Ferrari the success it’s currently struggling to achieve and reliving 2022’s racing schedule was a joy. Each circuit is, as ever, true to life, but Codemasters’ reworked car handling and updated physics go a long way to making the game feel like a simulation of a true Formula 1 experience.

I felt tense, flying around every corner in pursuit of Leclerc. Meanwhile, I found myself repeatedly having to manually stop all muscles in my body from clenching as I tried desperately to keep an aggressive Verstappen AI behind me. Thankfully, for more relaxed players, the rewind feature lets you avoid any race-ending mistakes at your leisure. But I’m certain that the more hardcore fans might turn their noses up at the idea.

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F1 22 My Team Will Buxton

What’s particularly impressive is how different the developers have managed to make the cars feel. Step behind the wheel of a Haas and you’ll still feel blisteringly fast, but even when pushing the vehicle to its limits, I struggled to outqualify the top end of drivers. Meanwhile, get inside the Red Bull and suddenly that one-second gap manages to feel achievable. Each car handles slightly differently too, particularly when contending with damage and tire wear which will change how the car performs mid-race.

“When the track allows, you’ll also be able to take part in new Sprint races, which are as fresh to the game as they are to the sport itself.”

Players who have kept up to date with F1 22’s development will already know this, but some fans may be disappointed to learn that Braking Point doesn’t return this year. F1 2021’s cinematic story mode wasn’t perfect, but it was an enjoyable experience that I’d have liked to see Codemasters improve upon this time around. Instead, Career and My Team are the two main options for single-player content.

Career has a custom driver replace one member of the existing Formula 1 line-up, while My Team has you create a new team from scratch and race alongside them. For the most part, these modes aren’t dissimilar, but expect to focus a lot more on team management in the latter.

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F1 Life F1 22

While both modes will let you tweak R&D on your own vehicle, something that’s necessary to stay ahead of the curve, My Team also has you playing around with the budget and team morale, to ensure that everything’s running smoothly. Of course, you can always just go with the recommended options either way if you’re not sure what to do, but by focussing more on your car’s Aerodynamics or Power, you can adjust the vehicle to your liking. During setup, managers now have the option of choosing a Newcomer, Challenger, or Front Runner budget, allowing them to select their starting point more accurately, which is a nice touch.

When it comes to race weekends, players will have the option of preparing manually or skipping practice. Initially, I was put off by the 3 separate practice sessions, but each gives players tests to complete to keep things interesting. And you’re not the only one out there on the track either – other teams will be getting their practice in too. I came to love practice sessions which were as immersive as they could be frustrating, particularly when you’re looking to set a new lap record but you’re stuck behind driver. Whether you’re aiming to focus on saving fuel, driving cleanly laps, or setting the track record, you’ve got plenty to do – even if the gameplay is relatively similar.

“But therein lies the beauty of F1 22, you’re free to customize not only your car, but also the way you want to play the game.”

Should you prefer, you can skip practice sessions, or have them done for you automatically. However, you’ll always get better results for your team when running the track yourself. When the track allows, you’ll also be able to take part in new Sprint races, which are as fresh to the game as they are to the sport itself.

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F1 22 Baku Race

Although playing all 3 practice sessions, qualifying, and then taking part in the Grand Prix itself is by no means a quick task, it really does help you get immersed in the world of Formula 1. What’s more, it helps you perfect your skills over the weekend, learning the ins and outs of how your car performs on the track, which will no doubt help you score some points. Catering for gamers with different levels of free time, F1 22 also lets you alter how long qualifying and the race itself will be. Should you prefer a shorter experience, the game by default has race day set to just 5 laps. Good luck to you if you’re trying to overtake a rival in Monaco with only 5 laps to do so!

I recommend dialing things up to Medium length where you’ll be able to race for roughly 16 laps instead, making for a much more satisfying Grand Prix (and actually adding the new-and-improved Pit Stops to the event). For the superfans out there, you can even do a full-length race at any time, but you’ll have to have a lot of time to spare! But therein lies the beauty of F1 22, you’re free to customize not only your car, but also the way you want to play the game. In fact, I suggest tweaking the settings right from the get-go, to give yourself more control over your racing controls and dial back the amount the title holds your hand.

But while the core gameplay feels excellent, there are a few moments in your F1 22 Career which are still a bit lackluster. Most notably, the decisions you face as either a driver or team manager just don’t feel that impactful. As a driver, I was asked to pick my rival from a list of 3 options, before simply being told ‘thanks’ and being sent back to my training complex. As a manager, I once had the opportunity to tell my contracted driver to focus on pace on the simulator, giving him a slight bonus to his stats. It didn’t feel impactful, and it certainly didn’t feel exciting.

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F1 22 Mercedes

In Career, players will be able to make their own F1 (or F2) driver their own, but in a rather limited way. Whether you’re picking from faces, clothing, or helmets, there are currently only around 6 choices to select between. However, you can head over to the Brand Store to spend real money on some unnecessary branded cosmetics, should you wish. Right now, the options there seem somewhat limited too, but thankfully that does seem like the only place to spend your premium PitCoins – at least at the time of this review’s writing.

“The game feels like an improvement over its predecessors, even without the addition of Braking Point (which I do hope returns before long).”

Despite the new ‘F1 Life’ being advertised as a new and exciting addition to the game, the truth isn’t quite as impressive. In actuality, the feature simply changes your main menu setting to a design of your choice. You can alter the furniture, change your driver’s wardrobe, and even drop 6 or so Supercars around your home complex. I imagine that PitCoins will come into play here in the not-so-distant future too, so you can show off to other players when using your home as a multiplayer lobby.

It’s worth mentioning that Supercars also have a part to play in F1 22. Players can earn Supercar tokens solely by driving a certain distance on track, and it won’t be long until you’ve unlocked the game’s entire roster. Once unlocked, you can take each vehicle for a spin through various Pirelli Hot Lap challenges, a series of skill-based events, and time trials. These also appear in Career and My Team modes, allowing you to earn a little extra income throughout a season, and feature drift challenges, high-speed tasks, and more.

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F1 22 Supercar F1 Life

For the most part, while it’s nice to have some variety, Supercars aren’t nearly as fun to drive as the F1 beasts, and each feels relatively identical and sluggish by comparison. If the addition of these additional vehicles was what sold you on F1 22, you’ll be disappointed with their presence.

In my time with F1 22, I did encounter a few minor issues, and one game-breaking bug. For some reason, the message telling me to leave the pit stop would stick around all race long, even when displaying the winner’s podiums at the end. In fact, it’d only leave when we finally headed back to the lobby area. But most problematic was a glitch that would occur during wet races, where the game’s rain effect would cause giant white spikes to appear all over my screen until after a soft reset. I’m assuming that both of these bugs, may well be fixed in the Day 0 patch, alongside EA’s list of ‘known issues’.

Overall, while I don’t think F1 22 is for everyone, it’s definitely one for the Formula 1 fans. The game feels like an improvement over its predecessors, even without the addition of Braking Point (which I do hope returns before long). Even if you’re a casual fan of F1, there’s plenty to love. But if you’re a hardcore fan of the motorsport, this is about as good as it gets for video game fans right now. You’ll likely enjoy sinking dozens of hours or more into weekly online races, single-player campaigns, and keeping up with the latest sporting updates in-game. One thing’s for sure, I know I will.

A Review Code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review

author
Managing Editor
Max has a wealth of experience in the industry and is a lover of all things video games, situated in Manchester, United Kingdom.