Game: F1 2010
Release Date: 24th September 2010
Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/PC

F1 2010 is the latest addition to the recently boring collection of F1 games. There are major improvements, which put F1 2010 ahead of the pack, and make it one of the best F1 games in recent memory. Developed by Codemasters Birmingham, F1 2010 boasts stunning visuals, deep and challenging handling, an addictive career mode and a heavily customisable multiplayer mode.

Presentation

F1 2010 is a fantastically presented game. Everything about the world of F1 has been beautifully recreated here, every car is identical to its real life model, and all of them look dangerously sexy. The circuits themselves are also expertly crafted with the highest level of detail, which make them an absolute pleasure to race around. Tracks such as Monte Carlo, the night race in Singapore’s Marina Bay, or Abu Dhabi’s sunset bathed Yas Marina are some of the highlights of F1 2010, boasting a beautiful array of environments. Naturally, tracks such as Bahrain are quite sparse, with nothing but sand to surround you, but this is expected.

Sadly, F1 2010 doesn’t run perfectly. I encountered quite a few frame-rate hiccups and lag, especially around circuits such as Monaco, which are crowded and take up a lot of processing power. As well as this, I seem to have had problems with regularly freezing with the game; it will freeze for 2-3 seconds and then resume normal play. This is a real shame and has been a major drawback for me playing the game, however I am yet to return the game to see if this is a problem with the disc.

One of F1 2010’s main objectives from the start has been to engross the player in the life of an F1 driver, and to let the player experience the wonder of the sport, both on and off the track. It definitely succeeds in the first of the objectives, however the off track experience can seem a little bland and robotic. Throughout the career you will have to deal with interviews; in these interviews you will have to choose one of three possible answers to each questions. These become repetitive very quickly, and the answers boil down to good, neutral and bad ways to deal with the press. It’s a cool idea in principal at how you can change how your team view you as a driving personality, but the way it is implemented in the game is stunted in its potential.

The visuals are matched by the games authentic audio standpoint. You will hear your car not only roar towards the finish line, but scream and splutter at each gear change. You really get the sense that you are sitting inside an aerodynamic monster that simply wants to take off at any minute. The games soundtrack is good, but could have taken a more prominent part in the game, as you only hear it in the menu, in game replay and when you are fast forwarding through practice and qualifying sessions. In terms of voice acting, the interviewers are the same two or three people throughout, which leads to a stale feeling, further added to by your race engineer who’s various different dialogue parts become repetitive and predictable, which is a great shame considering the games production values and depth in other aspects.

F1 2010 provides several ways to invest your time; the biggest way to lose your hours is the addictive career mode. You can choose the length of your career, from 3, 5 of 7 seasons. Those who want the most out of the career mode should definitely choose the 7 season career, as it gives you a chance to really build up your reputation across a believable time scale. The career works exactly how you’d expect; you play through each race in the season trying to meet and beat your team’s expectations to earn more reputation. As you progress you will have the option to move teams, or bring your team up the ranks to be a main competitor. You will also have your team mate to contend against, you will start off as the second driver in the team, but as you outrace your team-mate, you will eventually be offered a place as the teams 1st driver, and this will enable you to guide the progression of the teams upgrades to suit your needs.

 

 

As well as the Career Mode, you can play a Grand Prix mode, which you can select from one race, all the way up to a full season to play through with various customisable options. These include whether you play through a Single Race, Short Weekend or Long Weekend session, the length of the race, and whether you want single weather conditions or dynamic conditions. This is a good option for when you want to replay a favourite track or play in a team you haven’t raced with in career mode. Or simply if you want to practice in different weather conditions.

There is also a Time Trial mode, where you can race around each track competing against the online rankings posted by other players. This is a great, addictive mode that will really get you wanting to get faster and faster each lap and push the limits of what you think the car can do. As well as this, there is Time Trial Party, which is unfortunately the closest that the game gets to a Split Screen Mode. In Time Trial Party, you select a various amount of players and compete against each other to get the best time. It is a real shame that the game doesn’t support Split Screen Multiplayer, but something we have come to expect the lack of in Codemaster’s titles.

The online multiplayer is a great way to play F1 2010. There is sadly not full grid 24player online, instead it is 12 players online, and only one driver from each team takes part in the races. You can play in various different modes, all of which are customisable, while not to the depth of Forza Motorsport 3; it is definitely enough to give you great options to change your races.

As well as the fabulous tracks and cars, there is the phenomenal weather system that is integrated into F1 2010. Often boasted as ‘the most dynamic weather system ever seen in a racing game’, this statement is a fair way to describe the final outcome. The game looks beautiful when played in a dry climate, but when the heavens open, the game begins to really shine. Water will fall on the track and leave standing pools of water, while a rooster spray will erupt from the back of your car to blind the drivers behind you. As well as this, water droplets will spray up on the screen, while ripple effects can be seen as the rain falls, and if you are stuck behind another car, your view will become obscured by the torrent of water, making it near impossible to see. The best way to experience the weather system is to play a race of a longer length than the standard 3-lap affair. You will begin to see how the change of weather can completely turn the race on its head. As the track becomes wetter you will have to stop and change your tires to make sure you maintain grip in the sometimes-horrendous conditions.

Gameplay

A racing game wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavour if the on track action isn’t good. F1 2010 completely succeeds in portraying the absolutely nail biting speed of an F1 car. Every corner you take is breathtakingly fast, and as you roll over the chicanes you will feel the car begin to lose a bit of grip, as you fight to keep it on the track.

There are four different difficulty levels in F1, and various different assists that you can change at your leisure. If you play the game on Expert difficulty, you will definitely have an authentic experience. The game becomes a brilliant, and often frustrating challenge, and if you are not playing with a Game Wheel then this difficulty is almost impossible to come anywhere but last on the grid. The lack of Traction Control or ABS means you have a complete disadvantage to the AI if playing with a gamepad. However, you are able to alter the assists in the game without changing the difficulty level, for example, if you set the game to Expert Difficulty, then you can turn the assists back on in-game, enabling you to have believable AI opponents, and a challenge, however enabling you to have a fun time driving with the assists enabled. The easy, medium and hard difficulties all present various different challenges. The varying Difficulties and Assists allow for players of any level to enjoy F1 2010, and as you get better at the game you will be definitely intrigued to try the harder difficulties to see how you fare against the rest of the pack.

You will also have to completely change your driving style when the track is wet. Driving over the chicanes in dry conditions can allow you to pick up tremendous speed through the corners that can give you the edge over your competitors, however, driving over these in the wet can have disastrous consequences, causing you to spin out and collide with the barriers or other cars. Your brakes will lock up and you will be a passenger across the standing water, while you wont gain the grip accelerating out of the corners, resulting in wheel spins and lost time. You really have to be more cautious when driving in the wet, its fantastic.

As well as the weather conditions, you will have to contend with tire deformation, simulation fuel levels and engine conditions. As you race, your tires will gain more grip as they warm up, but will eventually begin to blister and cause you to lose time through your laps. Fuel levels will encourage you to qualify with almost no fuel in your engines, making your car lighter and faster and your engine will overheat if you rev the car to much, and your engineer will tell you to try and cool down your engines incase it blows up.

Purists will also be able to tweak their car in various different ways. You can alter almost every aspect of the car yourself, or choose a quick setup from your engineer that best suit the weather conditions. This is a good option if you understand car mechanics, but some of it isn’t that well explained, and will definitely leave some players wondering what each option will alter.

For a racer that is clearly a simulation racer, F1 2010 doesn’t feature much in the way of mechanical failures. I have only witnessed one puncture in my entirety of playing the game and my engine has never failed. The only apparent problem that will affect your car in a permanent way is a collision.

This leads me to F1 2010’s biggest flaw. Throughout the game you will realise that F1 2010 is an extremely unforgiving affair. While penalizations such as corner cutting enables the player to better their performance and ensures cheating is impossible, it is also a major frustration when sometimes you accidentally cut a corner due to a collision or loss of grip, and you are still penalized, even if you don’t gain any time on your lap. The main problem with the unforgiving nature of F1 2010 is that you may cause a collision and be warned about it, however even if someone collides into the back of you, you are often penalized for this, which is extremely frustrating when racing. When playing online, if someone charged up the inside of me when I was turning a corner, without me realizing or seeing them, if I collided with them, then I seemed to be the one penalized, it is so irritating that on some occasions I just left the races. Overall, this, for me, is F1 2010s biggest problem, and one that should definitely be addressed in a patch or update.

Verdict

Overall, F1 2010 is a thrilling, authentic experience that is brought to life with stellar visuals and a fantastically gripping handling model that engrosses the player in becoming the fastest round each circuit. The weather system is absolutely incredible and adds a complete new edge to the game that is unseen in most simulation racers, and the game boasts enough to keep you interested for quite a long time. Apart from the stale nature of the off-track career mode, the unforgiving penalizations and visual hiccups, this is an absolutely enthralling new addition to current generation racers.

9/10

Presentation: 9

In true Codemasters fashion, every menu is sleek and never motionless, while the cars and locations are beautifully recreated

Gameplay: 9

Absolutely brilliant handling means that you will feel like an F1 driver, while other aspects of the career mode let it down slightly

Visuals: 9

Stunning visuals, let down by irregular frame-rate hiccups

Audio: 8

Fantastic sound effects are marred by repetitive voice work

Lasting Appeal: 9

A deep career mode are strengthened by a great online feature


 

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