The circus that is the sport of Formula 1 is set to return to consoles and PC’s this month with the release of Codemasters’ latest game, F1 2012. Inevitably, the demo for F1 2012 dropped a few days ago and no doubt if you’re an F1 fan you would have already downloaded it and completed a few races, maybe won a couple and perhaps crashed out of another (it happens to us all at some point!)

For those of you who haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s my impression of it.

The F1 2012 demo puts you in the shoes, or rather racing suit, of an F1 driver who’s just been given a drive in the Williams F1 team. You then have the option of taking part in either the young driver test or a race.

What’s the young driver test?

Well the young driver test basically acts as kind of a tutorial allowing you to get to grips with driving a Formula 1 car and learning to tame the 800 horsepower you have at your disposal. In the demo, you only get to do day 1 of the test but it’s enough to get you up to speed (no pun intended) as you learn how to take a corner correctly. You’ll learn when to brake, where to turn in, hit the apex and accelerate out of the corner, and it does a good job of teaching newcomers and F1 veterans alike.

What about the racing?

Well, in the demo you can do one 5 lap race around the historic circuit of Monza in Italy. You’ll get the opportunity to put your car on pole position as well as you get 1 qualifying lap. The car handles really well and you get a great impression of what it must be like to drive one of these beasts in real life especially as you race through the famous corners like the Parabolica and the 2 Lesmo corners. And getting them right is quite frankly, thrilling. I’m pleased to say as well that some of the issues I had with the AI in F1 2011 seem to have gone away. Issues such as the AI sticking to the racing line no matter what and running you off the road whilst receiving no penalty. Also (and this is the big one for me) if you accidentally cut a corner or even just put too much of your front wheel on the curb, in last years game you would likely get some sort of penalty. In F1 2012, if the game thinks you’ve gained an advantage or overtaken a car by cutting a corner, you get the opportunity to give that place back as per the Formula 1 rules.

How does the game look?

The game looks amazing. Graphically there’s actually very little change from F1 2011 and even F1 2010, but Codemasters F1 games have been nothing short of looking amazing with the only graphical inadequacies becoming apparent when you stopped and looked around. Everything looks just like it should and everything is surprisingly easy to see even though whizzing past you at 200mph.

Final thought

F1 2012 feels very much like Codemasters have raised the bar for Formula 1 games and F1 2012 looks like a very good racing game, not just for hardcore F1 fans but for newcomers or casual racing game fans too. Personally, I can’t wait to race around the new Circuit of Americas in Austin Texas and try to beat the master himself, Michael Schumacher around the historic street circuit of Monaco.

F1 2012 is due for release on the 21st of September, and be sure to keep your eyes on for a full review.