F1 2010 – The PS3 Attitude review
F1 2010 is the first time Codemasters’ has been in the driving seat for the series, and with racing fans having to wait so long to see their favourite sport back in their control, these guys have a lot of expectations resting on their shoulders.
But does F1’s PlayStation comeback face a similar fate to Michael Schumacher’s first year back in the sport?
Arguably one of the most talked about aspects of this title is it’s in depth career mode. When you first launch the game, you are given a choice of a three, five or seven season F1 career to live through and a driving seat in one of the three new teams this year which are Lotus, Virgin Racing and Hispania.
As a driver in one of the new entrants, you’ll start most of your races around the back of the grid for the whole season. But if you’re successful and outperform your team’s expectations, others will be queuing for your expertise for the following year. On the easiest difficulty level with braking assist switched on, and little to no racing game experience under your belt, you should in fact find that several teams will declare an interest in you before the end of the nineteen race season. We found that this beginner setting helps make the game so accessible to anyone, meaning you don’t have to be a hardcore racing gamer to enjoy what this title has to offer.
The career mode does require patience however, as you have to face several hours driving uncompetitive cars before earning enough XP to be offered a seat in one of the better teams. You must also race some of the less exciting tracks such as Bahrain and China before the likes of Monaco and Spa. But this is just part of the experience and we wouldn’t have it any other way. One day all the patience and hard work is thoroughly rewarded.
Good race weekend performances, that take the form of practice, qualifying and the big race, will also spur your team to work harder on car upgrades. But if you don’t think they are pulling their weight, post race interviews such as those by BBC Radio 5 Live commentator David Croft for UK gamers can help you set the record straight. But be careful as you don’t want to be sitting in an upset team, which could dampen your chances of a new contract. The drivers’ conference for any podium finishes also puts more value on your answers.
Sadly however the extra dimension of doing interviews isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Navigating through multiple choice answers sometimes feels more like a chore than a fun part of the game, which is disappointing. We also often came across the same questions over and over again, which gives the impression of laziness on the part of the developers.
Beyond the career mode is Grand Prix. This gives you greater freedom as you are not chained down to a team or track, and you also have a choice of weather conditions, or if you would like to participate in the whole race weekend or just the main event. Just like the career mode, you can also select the length of the race from just 20% of the laps to a full distance. Furthermore, Grand Prix mode provides a somewhat confusing screen that allows you to build up a list of races to participate in, a sort of pick and mix season if you like.
F1 2010 is the closest a game can get you to feeling like a real Formula One driver. Before heading to the track in any race, qualifying or practice session, you assume the point of view of the driver sitting in the cockpit with the moveable screen sat on top of the car. Here you can view and control many aspects of your vehicle, including fine details such as rear or front wing heights, or the engine setting. This complex system of variants is more suited to players with greater technical knowledge, and so we believe that using the easy quick car set up screen is a preferred option for most players. From here you have a scale to choose from such as a high downforce car for wet weather and high grip in corners, to low downforce for high speed circuits such as Monza.
You can also choose what set of tyres to run on, but be aware that playing a full race weekend limits your set of tyres so you must use them strategically or suffer the consequences of running warn out rubber in a race.
When you’re finally on the track, the game offers through a D pad menu a limited set of changes at your disposal too that mirror some of the options available to real F1 drivers. However using it can easily distract you from what’s happening on the track, causing you to plough into a barrier or sand pit. Your engineer also regularly gives advice to you during the race, which for us was more of a negative than a positive. These generic and often obvious messages were a big turn off for us, but at the same time we couldn’t see TV commentary working well either.
The racing itself in F1 2010 is exceptional. Codemasters have done a brilliant job at attracting both hardcore and newcomers by offering an arcade and simulation experience that is testing enough but mostly forgiving too. Touching your car’s nose at the back of another car will rarely give any damage, but spinning into a fence will usually provide a very sorry return to the pits for repairs. The damage system currently is still basic though and feels undeveloped, especially for a sport that often throws up a mixture of smashes and dents. The only damage that you will tend to achieve is on the front wing, allowing for dangerous road rage in races, in particular in online racing, without suffering any consequences.
The collision detection system also has its share of problems as it isn’t always consistent. The same can be said for the awarding penalties, which real world F1 fans may be all too familiar with! One time for instance, we were penalised for spinning in the wet weather and blocking oncoming cars. This kind of occurrence can completely ruin your race, and the whole system is arguably something that needs to be examined and improved on in future instalments.
The graphics in this game deserve much praise. The car models in particular are exceptional, and the tracks are very well replicated, although of course the visual department can’t quite meet the quality we expect to see in GT5. The dynamic weather system is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the whole game as it not only provides visual changes, it also has a significant impact on the drivability of the cars. Changing weather can leave you thinking on your feet, such as whether to stick to slicks, or put on a set of intermediates.
Another aspect of the game that is very well developed is the replication of real world driver personalities – We found out for ourselves that we take on Michael Schumacher at our peril! This helps to make the game less predictable and more risky when looking to overtake cars.
The game does have its fair share of flaws in addition to the ones already mentioned. The HUD is often confusing, and the constant loading can be a little irritating. And then there is the lack of local multiplayer. Although the game does offer online which can be as fun as in any other racing game, we would equally value two player split screen multiplayer, which we’re used to seeing in almost all racing titles. There are also several other aspects of the sport that are strangely missing, such as the safety car, warm up laps, and the drivers spraying bottles of bubbly on the podium. But all these problems can be so easily overlooked thanks to the game’s fantastic offerings, which are all the more amazing considering this is Codemasters’ first attempt at the franchise.
Overall we cannot stop ourselves from recommending this game to every F1 fan. With its problems aside, it’s extremely addictive and rewarding, especially when you finish in first position. And if you are simply a fan of all racing games or know a little about the sport, this should be a good buy for you too, at least a rent anyway. And with this game starting on such a high note, we can safely say that the franchise is in good hands, and we already can’t wait to see what Codemasters come up with in the future!