Codemasters' Formula 1 series has been going from strength to strength in recent years.
Its single-player career offerings are among the best in racing, while the competitive side of F1 is as strong as anything out there. But being boxed into the F1 world has left the game feeling like a specialist title, rather than a more general and welcoming one.
That's all changing with F1 Life and the addition of supercars, as Codemasters goes after the Gran Turismo crowd.
It's a big change for the F1 game to include non-Formula cars. It was only a few years ago that F2 was added, and everyone expected the next step to be Formula 3 or the re-working of historic F1 cars.
It's a brave step, and the integration of supercars within the game feels clearly aimed at the more casual player who has spent the last few months playing Gran Turismo 7.
Pirelli Licence Tests
The main use of supercars in F1 22 is the Pirelli Hot Laps, a series of challenges in specific cars at tracks on the F1 calendar.
Nearly every track has at least one challenge for you to take on.
They range from drifting and average speed zones to cone slaloms and time attacks and are all good fun to take on. There are bronze, silver, and gold awards to win for each one. Sound familiar yet?
If you are a Gran Turismo fan you'll recognise these from Licence Tests in basically every GT title ever.
Where F1 22 improves on the formula is with a trio of difficulty options for each challenge that raises or lowers the bar of each award. More competitive players can go for gold on the hard setting, but younger and newer racers can still get a sense of achievement by grabbing gold on the easy setting.
It's a nice change of pace, and gives players something to do beyond racing around in F1 cars.
You can also take the supercars into time trial mode, where you can really push cars around tracks that are in no other game like Jeddah, Singapore, and Miami.
No supercar setups
Unlike the F1 and F2 cars, there are NO setup options for supercars in F1 22.
This means no meta tunes and perhaps most importantly no altering the feel and handling of the cars.
This is good for new players, but a shame for experienced racers.
The supercars are a handful, always ready to get their tail out and power-slide out of any corner.
Controlling them is all about patience and throttle discipline. It's the kind of thing you can tune out of the Formula 1 cars with a dedicated setup, but not here.
That will be a problem for some, especially when jumping from F1 cars into the supercars.
The sense of speed completely disappears, while flatout kinks become tricky mid-speed corners that require a delicate touch. It's easy to outbreak yourself too as the distances needed are huge.
Our supercar experience was from a preview build, so it's not the final product, but the cars also feel different from those on other games. The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is still a tail-happy brute, but it drives differently in GT7 compared to F1 22, and the same goes for the DB11 and F8 Tributo.
Don't come into F1 22 expecting to throw them around the same way you do in other games!
This will be because F1 22's engine is designed for Formula 1 cars and their special nuances. Codemasters has adapted to supercars, but not created a parallel system to really maximise them.
Key feature or distraction?
F1 Life is very nice addition. Furnishing a flat, kitting out your avatar in casual attire, and having a place in-game to show off achievements is pretty cool.
It also adds purpose to Podium Pass and purely cosmetic microtransaction integration that won't impact gameplay.
But the supercars themselves do feel like they are from another game. While fun, they aren't an impactful part of career mode or My Team. The Pirelli Hot Laps crop up as skippable events in your calendar just like the old Invitational Events did. They add some cash and acclaim to your balances but not by a huge amount.
Instead you just get out of rhythm with the F1 car by jumping into a totally different piece of machinery.
We will have to wait for the full release of F1 22 to get a full feel for the cars and their place in the game, but right now it feels like an off-shoot of GRID or Project Cars that has been tacked onto F1 22.
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