F1 22 Review — consistent racer enters new era with mediocre additions

By Lee Brady,

It dawned on me over the course of playing F1 22, the latest entry in the long-running racing series from developer Codemasters, that consistency can truly be a double-edged sword.

What’s remarkable about Codemasters and its handling of the Formula One licence is just how consistent, and indeed consistently good, the company is at developing this series of games. The games are released on a regular annual basis, sell and perform reliably well, and the core gameplay experience year to year is often remarkably solid. That core experience might even verge on exceptional, if the next year weren’t just as likely to be just as exceptional.

F1 22 was released on the 1st July, 2022 and is available for purchase on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 at retail or via the PlayStation Store. This review was published on the 27th June, 2022, and will not account for changes to the game post-release.
f1 22 reviewIt's hard to tell when you're blitzing at 200mph, but this game is quite the looker up-close.

That last strain of logic is where the double-edged nature of consistency comes in, as it seemingly doesn’t benefit anyone to be consistently exceptional at anything. That exceptionality comes with expectation, and indeed we expect Codemasters to release not only an exceptionally well-crafted racing experience every year, but to also bring some form of iteration or innovation with each subsequent entry to the F1 series.

It seems unfair when a game like F1 22, which in complete isolation might be considered a truly exceptional racing experience, instead feels like a bit of a misstep for Codemasters. What players get with F1 22 is, as is expected, a remarkably solid racing experience with a robust array of additional modes and extras. However, when stacked up next to its predecessors, it becomes apparent that F1 22 is an inconsistent entry for the series, delivering new features that feel more like checklist fillers than desired additions, and losing a big selling point from last year for which it has no replacement.

Unexceptionally exceptional racing

f1 22Picture taken on the iconic Monaco circuit, seconds before my fiftieth crash that race.

As it happens, I also realised while playing F1 22 just how important consistency is in the sport of Formula One. It’s not enough to simply race faster than everyone — when you have the lead, every misjudged or misaligned corner affords whoever’s on your tail precious seconds with which to narrow the gap. When a full length race features anywhere between 44 and 78 occurances of each corner, taking the odd corner exceptionally well just isn’t consistent enough.

For a sport like that to work as a game, it needs a framework that cannot under any circumstances feel inconsistent. The physics need to feel naturally weighty, changes in the weather or in the make-up of the cars need to change the gameplay subtly rather than drastically, and the performance of the engine needs to be remarkably stable, so as to not slow or crash an hour into an hour and fifteen minute long race. It’s that consistency in exceptional game design that Codemasters brings to F1 22, and it's an exceptional design we’ve long come to expect from the company.

Whether online or offline, career mode or split-screen, for a short five laps or a gargantuan 70-plus, F1 22’s core racing experience is second to none. While other racers might bring a far higher quality of graphical splendour, or a greater variety of cars and ways to engage with the concept of racing, what F1 22 does better than the rest is replicate the very sensation of Formula One racing down to its absolute last fibre.

Every corner you fail to take expertly sits in your stomach like a stone. Every overtake is a high wire act where you’re expected on one hand to juggle both the weight and speed of your car on the track, while in the other hand playing tug-of-war with someone who would love nothing more than to pressure you into the next corner too fast, forcing you to slam the brakes and blowing your chance to overtake for the next three laps. Being in first is as tense and demanding as being in twelfth, and there’s nothing sweeter than a hard won victory over a medium-to-long race.

XCOM: Cars Unknown

f1 22 review truetrophiesMy custom avatar, Kyna "Grim Reaper" Treadwell, getting the usual deference Verstappen shows to new Red Bull drivers.

For those looking for an expanded single player or split-screen racing experience, F1 22 sees the return of both driver and My Team versions of career mode. While neither are so robust as to feel like a full Football Manager-like game, there’s plenty of fun to be had in micromanaging your team’s research and investments; particularly in My Team mode, which lets you manage funds to purchase or shut down facilities and train drivers in what feels at times like a car-oriented XCOM Enemy Unknown spin-off.

There’s definitely room for improvement in both modes, as regardless of how invested I was in the decision-making process, I found that if I just made sure to spend all my resources each week on whatever the game recommended I spend them on, I was able to consistently outstrip the other racers when it came to race day. This was particularly jarring when my brand-new team were able to win the very first grand prix of their very first year in F1, concluding my rags to riches story on the first race of the season.

The likely solution here is to dig a little deeper into the settings and crank up the difficulty. However, I presumed the game — just like in real F1 — would balance itself, given that no matter how good of a racer you are, the car of a mid-to-low tier team is just not going to compare to whatever Mercedes and Ferrari are putting out. Finding that I could still outstrip my life-long rival, Charles LeClerc, in the first race robbed me of any incentive I had to engage with the game’s fairly thoughtful management systems.

All thrills, no frills

f1 22 review truetrophiesThere is no greater waste of real world money than buying premium currency to get your F1 robot person a branded t-shirt.

Speaking of being robbed of narrative intrigue, F1 22 does not see the return of last year’s star feature, ‘Braking Point’ — a dramatic story mode following fictional racer Aiden Jackson and his climb from F2 to F1 success. As a fan of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, I found Braking Point an excellent addition to the series, bringing some of the ego and intrigue of the real F1 to what can otherwise be a rather sterile genre for games.

Alas, with the absence of Braking Point, F1 22 feels utterly sterile in the intrigue department. There are plenty of opportunities in both career modes where you would think Codemasters would interject a little character, but it never quite happens. Despite being introduced to your Team Principal early on in driver mode (via e-mail), you never actually meet or butt heads with the likes of Christian Horner while racing for Red Bull. You can also choose a racing rival during the season for additional PR points, but your rival and you never actually interact outside of racing each other, so it simply serves to remind you how little human interaction is in the game.

With twenty star racers on the roster, you would think the combined powers of Codemasters, EA Sports, and the F1 licence could arrange the recording of some dedicated voice lines. Even if the in-game AI could express the racer’s personalities a little, using data from the previous season like ‘number of collisions with other racers’ to have their behaviours during overtakes change, that would affect something. Sure, there’s every possibility this could lead to a Civilization-esque Nuclear Gandhi scenario, but the fact that Hamilton and Verstappen, fresh from a season where they nearly jousted one another to the death, are represented here by bland, flavourless skin puppets is a crying shame.

Trophy Tactics

To collect all the F1 22 trophies, you'll want to devote most of your time to multiplayer racing and the My Team career mode. I missed a bunch of easy (and exclusive) bronzes in my reviewing time by sinking my energy into driver career, rather than My Team. The latter mode is also a far more robust and rewarding single player mode, so I recommend starting there in general.

For the two gold trophies, 'Ultimate Prize' and 'Makes the Dream Work,' I think our exclusive F1 22 trophy list was perhaps a little generous with the six hours to unlock. Keep your season short and skip practices and you should be fine to get both in just a couple of hours. However, to take home the platinum you're going to need to conquer 'The Veteran,' finishing 100 online races. I haven't confirmed if crashing out of races counts as a finish — if so, this might just fall under 20 hours, but I wouldn't count on it.

“A new era” of meaningless timewasters

f1 22 review truetrophiesIt would barely be tolerable for someone to display this many real trophies, let alone hollow digital ones.

Codemasters has seemingly made a rod for its own back by having built so many great new modes and additions for the F1 series over the years. F1 22 takes advantage of returning features like two-player career, online leagues, My Team, time trials, and more, giving its players an abundance of opportunities to find their preferred way to race. The problem is that there must not be much else on the to-do list worth adding, because the stuff Codemasters brought to F1 22 isn’t great.

We’ve got ‘F1 Life,’ a social hub feature that allows you to customise one of several preset avatars and let them hang around a pre-designed mansion/car showroom. Aside from being an inane social addition to a series that really doesn’t need one, it’s also not very convincing. You can use premium in-game currency to buy branded clothing, display the trophies you’ve won on a shelf no one will look at, or place supercars around your house to be judged by 20 or so gormless robots programmed to look interested in your accomplishments while they leech off your perennial Gatsbyesque house party.

Speaking of supercars, we also have the ‘Pirelli Hot Laps’ which let you drive high performance road cars in a collection of mini challenges. Unfortunately, while a nice idea, the physics engine clearly has no idea what to do with vehicles that move this slowly, as driving these cars feels like prodding a 2-ton Roomba down a race track. They turn wildly at the slightest provocation, chug intolerably when not running over 100mph, and the challenges themselves don’t have any bite to them.

f1 22When prompted in career mode, always stick with the 'real' cars.

The real additions for the game are hidden under the hood, with changes to tyres, physics and handling making the actual F1 driving feel like a dream. However, the game didn’t handle all that terribly in F1 2021, and last year also had Braking Point, an ambitious new feature that was worth talking about even if it wasn’t your thing. Following up F1 2021 with an uninteresting social mode and a fairly bad supercar mode does very little to sell F1 22 over its feature-rich forerunner.

For trophy hunters, the good news is you don't have to interact much with the social features to get the trophies, and you can even earn enough 'Supercar Coins' to unlock the Supercar Superstar silver trophy within just a few hours of game time. In fact, there's nothing overtly challenging on here if you fiddle with the settings enough to give yourself an advantage; the only real hurdle between your collection and the 'Completionist' platinum is going to be the time investment needed to finish 100 online matches.


f1 22 review truetrophiesWhere it counts, F1 22 is still an easy recommend. Unless the person you're talking to owns F1 2021, of course.

F1 22 markets itself as a ‘new era’ for the series, but it’s hard to see where its confidence is coming from, as it easily feels inferior to last year’s edition. If it had emerged from the game development ether and joined the realm of video games detached from its predecessors, it might have been hailed as a racing game revolution rather than 'just another F1 game.' It's a shame, but perhaps Codemasters can take heart in the notion that, in failing to match its past consistency, the company may have primed itself to finally receive the recognition it deserves should F1 23 comes out looking a whole lot better than F1 22.
7 / 10
* Lee spent 18 hours playing the PS5 version of F1 22, completing a full 20-course single-player career. He unlocked a pathetic 19/51 trophies because he sank too much time into the driver career rather than My Team, where all the trophies are. A review copy of the Champions Edition was provided by EA, which came with some premium currency, some of which was spent on a trendy top for his avatar.
Lee Brady
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium, recent Sony news), and his secret third eye on the junk he really likes (Sonic Superstars, Final Fantasy XVI). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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