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October 12, 2010
F1 2010 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
23/9/2010Namco BandaiCodemastersCodemasters12-12
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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F1 2010 is an impressive game.
For years I have been an avid follower of Formula One, and 2010 finally looks like a year where Australian's may have another World Champion in Mark Webber, or first in some 30 years! While it hasn't been as long, it has been quite some time since we have seen a Formula One based racing game - the last was Sony's racer in March 2007. Why the delay? Well the license for Formula One based games has now shifted across to Codemasters and this is their first effort - and what a fine effort it is too. If you're a F1 fan then this is a game you will want to pick up.

As expected with the full license F1 2010 includes all 19 circuits, 12 teams and 24 drivers from the 2010 season. So this is a Formula One racing game, and as you can probably expect there isn't a "storyline" to follow. Having said that, the bulk of this game comes about through the Career mode which sees you competing creating your profile to compete in 3, 5 or 7 seasons and with each race requiring you to complete between 20-100% of the full race length. That equates to around 20 minutes minimum for each race and certainly that time again if you add in practice and qualifying sessions. If you don't participate in qualifying you'll start the race at the back of the grid, and that's not ideal with 23 cars ahead of you!

When you start this career mode you'll be able to join one of the 'lower' teams to being with such as Toro Rosso (my choice), Virgin or Lotus. The first season has some pretty lenient goals for you to achieve, perhaps start in the Top 15 on the grid in a race, or finish in the Top 12. Should you perform well enough you'll be able to customise your car, set tyre and pit strategies

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Racing in the hot desert sands.
In terms of the actual car handling this game is super slick - and what more would you expect from the developers of the DiRT and Race Driver Grid titles. Cars are not only responsive but any changes you make to their setup, or damage done during races, really does affect their handling. Another major impact on the cars is the weather. We're not just talking about on/off rain here, but rather a varying degree of rain. In a light shower tracks in this game may have wet patches in the open, while being dry under trees or buildings. Water will flow into the dips on tracks while it will dry out in the sun. As in real life when a Formula One car moves between different levels of wetness this affects the handling and the chances of losing control. Of course spray also comes up from the cars reducing visibility to near zero at times. Not only that but the levels of grip is affected with heavier rains washing away the rubber built up over practice sessions and the race itself. When that happens it takes many laps for the track to grip up again.

As with Codemasters other racing games there is an option to rewind time by approximately 10 seconds or so. Is this cheating? Sure, but then again so are brake assist and ABS etc, and this allows you to rewind sections of the race when you stuff up (such as when the wife walks in front of the TV). Depending on your difficulty you may get four chances, or only one or two.

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The sense of speed in F1 2010 impresses.
There are a few disappointments with the single player experience. First of all the pit stops aren't handled well. As soon as you enter pit lane the computer takes control of your car until it spits out the other side and back into the race. It also seems your engineers aren't the brightest, as there doesn't seem to be any fluctuation on when to pit depending with what's happening on-track. If you could put in a few more laps to make sure the pit lane will be clear for you rather then coming in surrounded by other cars, you'd do that, but not in this game. There are other niggles too including the first lap being timed from when you cross the start/finish line, and being able to cross the line when coming out of pit lane without penalty (admittedly the developers will likely patch these soon).

Another disappointment was the interviews which get conducted after qualifying and races and your responses will affect how your team will view you, as well as other prospective teams. In theory this is a great idea however the implementation in this game is pretty patchy, you answer 3 questions, which are only text based, and it's pretty dry.

There are a couple of other game modes including Time Trial and Quick Races, however it's the Online Multiplayer that should mase an impact, and if you want to race online it's certainly implemented well with either short 3-lap races right up to a full weekend for up to 12-players. Online racing works fairly well however we did notice that the cars have a tendency to vanish then re-appear (we're pretty sure that's due to bandwidth issues), often right in front of you causing an infuriating crash. Another niggle, and we know this is a licensing issue with the FIA not allowing this so don't blame Codemasters, but you can't have, for instance, four friends racing as Mark Webber in his Red Bull car simultaneously. Everyone must have a different vehicle meaning you never get a truly even race. Perhaps the developers could have used a "generic" test car so you're on a level playing field.

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F1 racing in the rain is damn tricky.
As you would have seen from the surrounding screenshots F1 2010 is a very impressive title visually and really shows off the EGO 2.0 Engine to good effect with superbly detailed tracks that look every bit like their real-life counterparts. Buildings, grandstands, trees, line markings are all in the correct places. The cars too are superbly recreated for the game. What's more the car damage looks spectacular too. Flat tyres ripple and wobble, parts of cars break off when collisions occur, and yes, the cars can even get off the track and become airborne.

When it comes to visuals by far the most impressive aspect to this game has to do with the weather effects. Daytime dry races look great, but when the rain comes down everything has a wonderful, glossy sheen to it and with the mist kicking up from the cars ahead it gives you a completely new outlook on what these drivers go through. Fortunately while this all looks great in still images the developers have also pushed the PS3 to hold a very steady frame rate too, even when the track is full of cars ahead.

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Lining up on the grid in F1 2010.
One aspect of F1 2010 which I did find disappointing was the audio. Sure we expected plenty of engine noises, and they sound fantastic, but beyond that it was a little disappointing with little music and even worse, little in the way of commentary from the cars' engineer. During the races he'll tell you which sector you're going well or struggling in, that your engine is overheating or that you can take the guy ahead, but it's pretty sparse in detail. I would love to hear that you're about 2 seconds behind the leader, or .4 seconds down on the quickest lap time for qualifying without having to take your eyes of the road to look at the times in the corners. It just needed more in this area.

I'm a massive fan of Formula One racing and F1 2010 matches the thrills and excitement of the sport. Given that this is the very first game in the franchise from Codemasters it's a remarkable achievement with a game on-par with Sony's best efforts years ago (but of course with the next-generation of hardware over the older PS2 titles). Highly recommended.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThis is a pretty spectacular looking game with realistic tracks and cars and slick menus.
SOUNDI hope you like car engines, music is minimal and there isn't as much speech as I expected from the race engineer who is pretty quiet.
GAMEPLAYFrom a full-on simulation to easy arcade style racer this game caters to everyone. It's fun too.
VALUEA full season will take you days to complete with minimum race lengths of 20% distance. Quick Race and Multiplayer is fun too so you'll be playing for ages.
OVERALLFor months this game has been near the top of my most wanted list and Codemasters haven't disappointed. It looks great and plays superbly too so if you're a Formula One fan then this is certainly worth a purchase.

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