PlayStation 4/5, Xbox, PC; Codemasters/EA Sports
Supreme playability is sidetracked by a new mode designed to let players live the gilded life of an F1 driver – and start paying for it
In the real world, Formula One is enjoying one of its highest profile seasons ever. A change in regulations has made cars more raceable than they have been for years, and the contest between the obscenely talented young chargers Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc is thrilling. This year’s iteration of the officially licensed Formula One video game, F1 22, has the technical virtuosity required to capitalise on the real sport’s ever-growing status.
But there’s a problem – an ugly and very modern one. F1 22 includes a new mode, F1 Life, that is supposed to let you vicariously experience the enviable lifestyle of a Formula One driver. You’re given an apartment, which you can kit out with bling virtual furnishings and accessorise with supercars and virtual clothes from real brands for your avatar. Leaving aside the cloth-eared tone of super-rich virtual image-projection at a time when unprecedented numbers of people are resorting to food banks and struggling to pay energy bills, F1 Life comes across as a cynical means of introducing microtransactions into a hitherto unsullied racing game. This is exactly what pessimists predicted would happen when FIFA/Madden giant EA Sports bought F1’s developer Codemasters last year.
F1 2022 is out 1 July; £49.99.