Codemasters have launched the new series of F1 2010 games for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
They claim that F1 2010 will be “a departure for F1 games”. There are a whole new array of features to impress us at the launch in London today. While I wasn’t at the launch myself, I have compiled reviews from many people at the launch, and those who tested the game for the first time. Note that the game is “pre-alpha build” and will be different when it goes on sale in September. I have split the game review so far into different sections:
From the screenshots, F1 2010 looks impressive. It is a complete revolution from the terrible graphics we saw on the F1 2006 game, the last F1 game for the main consoles. In the rain, the clouds of spray from behind the cars are very realistic and there are reflections on the puddles that develop on the track. Have a look for yourself in the screenshot pictures at the end of this post.
Senior producer Paul Jeal promised that “F1 2010″ would offer “authentic, predictable and consistent handling.” Of course, it was expected to be much better than the simple arcade-style handling in F1 2009 (for the Wii), and it was.
From what I have heard, F1 2010 isn’t too simple to drive, but not very punishing either. Of course, crashing your car over the kerbs will result in a spin or worse, but medium mistakes may not always result in dire consequences, which is slightly dissapointing for me. Also, within a few laps, many people reported being able to adapt quickly to the game, and avoid mistakes, which isn’t good new either. In my mind, an F1 game should punish the slightest mistake with a pirouette of the car. Now, Codemasters have promised a car that offers a mix between arcade and simulator driving, so my hopes were obviously gone at this point.
Also, anpther interestng thing to note is that it seems easy enough to follow the car in front of you in this game, unlike real F1. As I will expand on in the “Opponents” section, this makes it much easier for the car behind you to attempt an overtaking move, which is good news.
Rain and track changes
Codemasters are very happy with their track simulation, which they are referring to as “active track technology”. Every 30cm the car travels, the track changes, affecting the racing line, debris on the track, and the weather.
As the race develops, the rubber from the cars’ tyres will set into the track, causing an increase in grip on the racing line, which is a great new feature. This makes driving off-line more difficult. If you brake in the wrong area, the car will take longer to accelerate, and have less grip entering the corner. If you go out on track in Friday practice 1, the racing line will appear as green (on the HUD), which signals a low-grip track. As the weekend develops, the track rubbers in, and your laps times will start to decrease.
When it rains, puddles will begin to form instantly on the track. There will be less rain on the racing line than the rest of the track, another new feature. When the rain stops, the racing line will dry out much quicker than the rest of the track. This way, you can move your car to the other side of the track, opposite the racing line, to cool down your tyres. This will be an especially useful feature in the period of the race where it is too dry for intermidiates, but too damp for dry tyres.
Damage and safety
The areas where the car can be damaged has been increased. As well as the front and rear wing, tyres, and nosecone, now you can damage your suspension, which affects the cars’ handling badly. Debris from other cars’ (or yours) collisions will remain on the track, and can damage your car again if you hit it.
Generally, small problems can be fixed with a quick pit-stop. Serious damage will take longer to fix. However, you’re not safe any more, even in the pit lane. Codemasters showed the spectators in London today a video of a car knocking down a pit crew member. This confirms the rumor that pit stops are now fully manual, instead of the automatic stops that have become regular in F1 video games. Tyres are now full affected by damage as well. A locked wheel will result in a flat-spotted tyre, and repeated locking-up will cause a puncture. Blisters can also develop if the tyres are mishandled through the corners.
One very dissapointing lack of a feature in F1 2010 is the non-inclusion of the safety car, and the formation lap. Codemasters believe that it would have taken too long to develop (the safety car in this case), and wouldn’t bring very much to the overall game. A good point, but F1 2006 had a formation lap, and F1 1997 had a safety car, so they could partially copy the design from these games if they had tried hard enough. But I’m not too dissappointed, as they say that they are considering these features on the 2011 version of the game.
The flag system has been improved again. The red flag can now be waved to halt the race, for serious crashes or heavy rain. (Update: Red flags will not be used in the game)
This is a section never before included in an F1 video game. After the race, how well you perform will result in how many journalists will appear around you, and how many fans turn up for autograph sections. You can also walk inside your garage and team trucks. Codemasters say that this means you can take control of your driver in a way like never before.
In the press conferences, you can speak your mind. You can choose to critisice your team-mate or team, or applaud them. What you say in the conferences can also affect your relationship with the team. Rumours that a “for sure” button can be used in the conferences are yet to be confirmed or denied.
Online, up to 13 people can race at once, which is good enough for a fun race. Interestingly enough, Codemasters have been advised by the FIA to leave a slot free for a 13h team, just in case one appears later this season. They seem to have done so, which means that an additional download package will be supplied if another team joins.
Relationship to the 2010 F1 season
Since F1 2010 is being released in September, players will get to drive the new Korean track before the F1 drivers do. Codemasters are confident that they have good detail in this circuit, and have no plans to introduce a patch after the official race, in case there are significant problems.
Because of licsensing restrictions, only the 2010 F1 cars and tracks can be used in this game. Also, note that the screenshots feature the 2009 cars, but the final version of this game will have the 2010 cars.
Overall, I’m happy with the game so far. When it comes out, hopefully I’ll be one of the first to try it out (for Xbox 360), and I will let you all know what I think of it.
Note: The two shots of the onboard cameras were taken on a camera phone, so don’t take any graphical conclusions from them.
Screenshots of F1 2010: