So, I got hold of my copy of F1 2010 last Friday, and have been testing away at it ever since. After a week, I’m ready to say that I’m hugely impressed by Codemasters’ work, and that this is by far the best Formula 1 game in recent times.
Before we get into the specifics about the game, first of all I’ll talk about how I played the game, just for reference. I didn’t have a steering wheel, which I’m told is absolutely fantastic fun, and this is for the Xbox 360 version, though I’m sure the PS3 variant can’t be too different. I haven’t tried out Xbox Live on it, as my connection is off (moving house if you’re wondering) until November. Also, I was racing on 20% race distance, hard level for AI drivers, and all driver aids switched off. Now on with the game…
F1 2010 is a complete revolution, a massive leap from F1 Championship Edition, back in 2007. I don’t have a HD TV, but the graphics are still hugely impressive. Driving in the rain is not only a challenge, but extremely realistic as well. Spray is thrown onto your helmet, especially with the in-car camera, giving it all of the real-life effects of Formula 1.
Even when it’s not raining, the game stands out in a way never seen before. The dry racing line begins to develop once the rain stops, and it is precise and detailed down to the nearest millimetre.
Driving the car / Handling
Driving an F1 car is precision artwork, and you will soon find that out. While the traction control option is there, it is heavily advised you keep it off, it’s much more fun that way. The slightest twitch, mistake or spin of the wheels will leave you back-to-front and red in the face. Trust me, in the first few laps of playing the game, if you’re even remotely pushing, multiple spins will be on the cards.
We were promised “Authentic, predictable and consistent handling” and that’s just what we got. Once you get used to driving the car, you can eventually get into a routine, though it’s still very difficult to keep the car going. When the tyres go off, the car becomes an ice-skating rink, just as you’d expect.
Clipping the kerbs too hard, or putting a wheel in the gravel trap, will 100% of the time turn you the wrong way, and it’s a harsh but fun way of playing the game.
This is the one sector where I thought Codemasters cut the corner. While the front wing is beautifully fragile, and will come off in an instant, that seems to be the only part of the car you can get damage on. If you fly into the barriers at 100mph, you will take off the front of the car, but otherwise there isn’t much else.
Once, another car stopped on track, and I deliberately hit it on the side, just to see would it cause damage. It did, shards of carbon fibre went everywhere, but this appears to be difficult to achieve when racing on track. The back of the car is impervious to damage, and punctures are not caused by hitting another front wing, rather slamming into the barriers.
It’s not bad, but not great either, although it’s enough to keep me happy. It will need to be improved for future F1 games though.
Wet weather driving
This portion of the game is so brilliant it deserves its own review, never mind section. Wet races are what brings F1 2010 into a league of its own, bringing a whole new level of difficulty and realism.
First of all, your rules on tyre traction will need to be looked at. One small slip of the throttle, and you’re backwards into the barriers. Run too wide, or turn in too deep, and the same fate awaits. Opponents are more likely to make mistakes (and can also crash on their own), giving a whole new depth of true racing.
Of course, once the rain stops, the track will slowly dry out, and the fun continues. Here, the racing line starts to dry out, and you will be forced to run on the damp parts of the track to cool the tyres down.
You have to experience it yourself to get an idea of how good it is, as it’s undoubtedly the best part of this game.
One of the most pushed features of F1 201o has been “live the life of an F1 driver”, and Codemasters have tried to do this by incorporating the life inside the paddock. I was looking forward to this a lot, but it seems to be mostly interviews, which can affect your relationship with the team, thereby assisting or damaging hopes for a contract next year.
The interviews are good, if a little unpunishing if you bad-mouth the team. Unfortunately there isn’t much else in the paddock section of note.
The in-garage menus are excellent, allowing a huge range of changes to be made to the car, as well as a live timing-style screen, weather reports, tyre managment, and stats on your team-mate. The animations leaving and entering the garage before and after runs are also very well done.
I heard that pit stops can be fully manually controlled, but I can’t find the setting for it, so at the moment the only things you do for a pit stop are brake for the pit lane entry, brake again for the box, and disengage the limiter leaving the pits. I’ll edit this once I find out about the manual stops.
There are some very small problems with this game, but I really can’t deny that F1 2010 is a huge leap forward for Codemasters, and I’m certainly looking forward to their next release. I don’t have a marking system, but I’ll give it 92%.
The only glitch I've seen - The pit lane was blocked from a stranded car ahead
- Stunning graphics
- Tyres are realistic
- Wet weather driving is supremely difficult and entertaining
- A new level of car handling
- Reports of a few small glitches
- A crowded pit lane will result in you being stuck waiting to be released for far too long
- Not enough detail in the paddock, more features needed