At long last, the F1 Manager 2022 game is available to play, with Frontier Developments launching the hot new title into the world today (30th August). But how does the game play?
The world of Formula One has rarely been as hot as it is now, with the Netflix Drive to Survive series (and dramatic events on the track) helping the iconic motorsport reach a broad mainstream audience in a whole new way.
With that in mind, it makes total sense for the gaming industry to expand its F1 offering. EA-owned Codemasters has been making excellent F1 racing games for years (see our reviews of F1 22 and F1 21), but what about a management simulator that takes you out of the driving seat?
After all, if football fans can enjoy the on-pitch antics of FIFA 23 as well as the annual Football Manager release, surely the growing community of F1 fans deserve similar treatment? And now, at long last, that’s exactly what they’re getting.
The company tasked with making F1 Manager 2022 is Frontier, the developers that previously delivered the brilliant brace of Jurassic World Evolution management games. And luckily, there seem to be some transferable skills between dinosaur-wrangling and motoring management.
That is to say, F1 Manager feels just as great to play as Frontier’s Jurassic World games, although the content couldn’t be more different. From the moment you boot up the game, you’ll feel like you’re in safe hands, although it might take you quite a while to get any good at it.
Of course, managing a Formula One team isn’t easy, and this game doesn’t try to pretend that it is. You probably won’t win your first race, or your second, unless you learn the ropes in an impressively speedy way.
Luckily, especially for those of us that aren’t exactly experts, the game does offer a fair amount of tutorial content to get you started. A helpful member of your chosen team will teach you the basics of what you can do in each scenario, but this crash course won’t provide you with a foolproof way to win.
When a qualifying round or a race is happening, you’ll be able to instruct your two drivers in a number of key areas. You can tell them when to push their tyres harder, when to preserve battery power, when to watch out for their fuel consumption, and a whole lot more.
You can watch the races in real time, with some fairly simple graphics displaying the action, or you can zoom out, fast forward, and just watch coloured dots zipping around the map.
These racing segments feel relatively fun, although we would’ve liked to see slightly more realistic graphics to make it more immersive. Dialogue lines are repeated quite often as well, and the action replays are bit too frequent, which does pull you out of the action a bit. This is an impressive first outing, don’t get us wrong, but it feels like there is still room for this franchise to grow and find its form.
Between races, you can tinker to your heart’s content, ordering your R&D team to develop new car parts that could give you the edge in the next race on the F1 calendar. You can also spend experience points to hone your drivers’ skills, or try your hand in contract negotiations to try and lure new talent to your team.
There’s plenty to do here – as in Football Manager, you’ll receive a steady stream of messages to stop you from getting bored – although you could argue that not all of it is thrilling. Contract negotiations, in particular, do not feel particularly dynamic (but of course, they could make big difference to your performance).
All in all, F1 Manager 2022 feels like an impressive qualifying round. There’s room for improvement, but the level of detail is admirable and the overarching gameplay loop of prepping for each race and trying to climb up the leaderboard really does feel fun. When your tactics finally click into place, you’ll have a great time.
F1 Manager 2022 is out now for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 and PS5. We reviewed on Xbox Series X.
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