F1 2012: First Listen

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This happens to be my 101st post, and as it’s nearly midnight here on the Pacific coast, it’s also almost my birthday, so I decided to celebrate early with some F1 2012!

This game was released in the US on Tuesday (and elsewhere today, I believe,) so there are likely many “first post” types of things all over the internet today. However I’d love to take a focus on sound.

First things first, the interface. There’s actually a big change in menu style for this 3rd installment of the Codemasters F1 series. Where the previous two had a sort of First Person perspective where you would travel between menus, 2012 goes to a more traditional menu style. Me as a player, I actually prefer this, as the menu hadn’t ever really added any immersion for me. The background music is rather dramatic strings with a somewhat dark overtone, with the sound of reverbed, low-rpm F1 cars driving by in the background sporadically. It’s actually very pleasant to leave on for a few minutes. The bleeps-and-bloops have quite a bit of character, too, and I found them quite enjoyable.

Dropping into the game, you are immediately shuffled into the training and tutorial system (mimicking the “F1 Young Driver Test, a cool detail) which showcases the V.O. both in the pre-drive as well as on-track moments. Here is also where we get our first taste of the car sounds themselves. Some of the first tests include some cornering and some straight line work with the GUI turned down, which is a great chance to listen to the cars themselves.

Compared to 2011, there has been quite a bit of sonic improvement. For example, watch the first ~4 minutes of this video:

Notice first the character of the sound, and second what happens when KERS is in use (the little “battery” symbol goes away.)

Here’s some 2012 footage:

And one more from 2012:

As you can (hopefully) hear, there’s a change in the mix that makes 2012 feel more chaotic. The sound of the car has a bit more distortion to it, and the NPC cars get a bump compared to the player car that I feel is appropriate. The KERS system now adds a handful or RPM sonically and gives a low frequency boost to exaggerate the added horsepower. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if KERS has a sonic impact on a real F1 car.)

I’ve only put an hour into the game so far, but as it sits I’d call this an improvement over last year’s, sound-wise and game-wise.

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