Going for the podium!
Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
It seemed like no one wanted to take the challenge of creating a brand new F1 game. Sure, Sony did released the first and only F1 game of the current generation of consoles back in 2007 and while the title was not well received by purists, the idea of seeing a true depiction of Bernie Ecclestone’s circus was almost out of the equation. Then, out of nowhere, Codemasters picked up the license. The studio behind such award-winning titles as TOCA Race Driver, Colin McRae (later known as DiRT) and GRID has more than proven they are capable of doing great things, but an F1 game?
After releasing a poor man’s version on the Wii last year (which begs the question of why they released the less-powerful version first), they’re now hitting the bigger platforms with F1 2010...and to say the least, it’s a solid yet imperfect effort.
Once the game is loaded, you’re transported to a press conference. A reporter will cleverly ask you a few questions that will lead you to create your persona, set-up the length of your career and choose a starting team from one of the three recently-added racing teams (Virgin, Lotus and Hispania Racing). The game will then give you access to the driver’s room and the team’s paddock - which also acts as the main menu - where you can speak to your agent, check out where you stand in the Championship rankings or enter the next available event within your career. Entering a Grand Prix or setting times in the Time Trials with any of the existing drivers is also possible. Just as in previous Codies racing games, F1 2010 features a straightforward POV menu system. Surfing through the game’s modes and options involves quick-loading transitions paired with a neat visual representation of the aforementioned paddock. There are even F1 girls, giggling and waving at you when stepping out of your trailer. Cute.
F1 2010 primarily revolves around your career. Make your team owners proud by achieving goals, racking up experience points and eventually leading your team to the podium as often as possible. Of course, if you do well, other racers will become rivals, your reputation climbs higher, and offers from more experienced teams will come. But there’s more…
As you may (or may not) know, an F1 season consists of 19 races across the globe. Each race is composed of a training session the first day, qualifications on day two followed by the main race on day three. During practice sessions, your engineer will shoot some challenges your way; like setting up fast laps or completing endurence runs in exchange for car improvements. F1 2010 will give you the choice of playing GP weekends as either “short” or “long”. Short weekends are a cut-down version of a full weekend. They consist of a 60 minute practice session, a 20 minute qualifying session and the race which the length can be determined prior to enter the session itself. As for the “long” weekend, well, it’s like the real thing: three practice sessions, a full qualification run and the race itself. Unless you’re deep into F1, a short weekend should do just fine.
Depending on how you wrap up your weekend, either a pesky reporter will come to ask you questions at your paddock or you’ll be invited to a press conference (if you make the podium) to answer questions from the media. Either way, both have the same uninspired and repetitive questions. Then the “rinse and repeat” adage begins to apply. It may sound like boring but that’s the way real life F1 racing is. The excitement happens on the track, at 200 mph. The rest is just about studying the tracks and prepping your car for the next race. Tweaking various performance aspects of your rocket on wheels - like brakes, suspension, aerodynamics, etc - via the car monitor can be extremely time-consuming. Yet, there’s little doubt it’ll be satisfying for the hardcore crowd.
Certainly one of the most breathtaking aspects of F1 2010 lies in its visuals; with the credit going to the developer’s heralded EGO engine. All 19 tracks of the 2010 season are flawlessly and amazingly reproduced to the smallest detail. With my favorite tracks being Silverstone, Singapore, Spa and Yas Marina, having the opportunity to race on them from the comfort of the couch was definitely a treat. Car models are gorgeous and highly detailed with the only exception being that there’s no physical damage. Debris does show up on the race track when cars collide, but everything is cosmetic. It won’t impact the racecar and how it performs. However, everything else, from the downforce to the tire grip on the asphalt to sliding after taking the wrong turn is there. Physics damage can be found in both DiRT and GRID, so I suspect it’s just a licensing thing more than an engine incapability issue. If that’s the case, one would expect a change in future iterations of the franchise.
Despite the damage issue, no racer on the market today has made use of such an amazing dynamic weather system before. Every F1 fan knows that the weather plays an important role in a racer’s preparation, forcing him to adapt and modify his car and driving behavior as the forecast may change over the course of the weekend. F1 2010 brings that same realism. It can be sunny on practice day and all of a sudden, clouds will show up, the temperature drops and your tire set-up is no longer as efficient as it was ten minutes ago. On race day, if the forecast says that it might rain, and it does indeed happen, you will see the change slowly appear and start affecting how the car performs as the race progresses. With Monaco being one of the most demanding tracks in the circuit, you can only imagine how brutal things would turn out if Mother Nature decides to play a trick on you, mid-way into your flawless race.
If you’re expecting a killer soundtrack while you race, then F1 2010 will be a let down. There’s a little music, but the game is pretty much silent up until you’re on the race track, where the environmental sounds and car engine roars will be heard. Fortunately, this turns out to be an amazing experience, especially if you have a surround sound audio system or a nifty pair of headsets.
While the lack of physic damage can be considered as a small hole in a well-embodied experience, there are a few other notable annoyances that prevent F1 2010 from being a groundbreaking game. First, your engineer is completely off-track when it comes down to pit stopping strategies. He will tell you to make stop and then fail to put you back in rapidly. Worst, he will let every single AI car coming from the back pass by first, and then authorize you to go. If you want to win races, your best bet would be to ignore your engineer and pit whenever your AI opponents do. Luckily, he will inform you when the other teams make their pits. Sadly though, I did come across some AI drivers that could complete a dry race without paying their engineers a visit at all. Among other mentionable oddities, the total lack of telemetry and information between sessions, the randomness and frequency of tire punctures and issues with AI fuel management. Supposedly Codemasters is working on a soon-to-be-released patch, addressing most of them. In all honesty though, these issues will only be notable if you’re a hardcore F1 know-it-all. They won’t make much of a difference to the eyes of a casual F1 gamer, and even less so if the game isn’t played at higher difficulties.
The game also has a deep and interesting online portion with various modes such as time trials, sprints, endurance races and even a full blown Grand Prix, qualifications and all. Unfortunately, if you aren’t playing with a group of dedicated friends that know the difference between playing an F1 game and BLUR, you better have your swear jar near you because jumping into matchmaking will turn out a hellish experience due to the unsportsman-like conduct and lack of strategy coming out of your opponents. I know…it blows but just like any other game in the genre - whether it’s Gran Turismo or Forza - it cannot be avoided. No lag though, which is a huge plus for a racing game.
Lastly, the replay option first introduced in GRID can also be found within the game options. It kills the realism of the experience, but it’s there if you really need it.
One thing is certain; Codemasters knows how to create great racing games. F1 2010 isn’t perfect, but it definitely feeds my long and unsatisfied F1 craving. There are plans to release a new F1 title every year, instead of the two/three year cycle implemented in other racing franchises. I don’t know if I totally agree with the idea though. It does give the impression that some things could have been done and fixed on the freshman effort. Instead, they will implement new elements each annual iteration. Can you imagine a Forza title every year? I will leave that for another discussion. Aside from the fastidious technical details mentioned earlier on, this game is worth checking out, especially if you’ve been wishing for an F1 game for the past three and a half years.
+ Slick presentation
+ Cars and tracks well reproduced
+ Solid career mode
+ Dynamic weather system
+ Deep multiplayer modes
- No car damage
- Dumb pit stop system
- Various technical nitpicks could tarnish the experience for F1 connoisseurs
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Release Date : 2010/09/21
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Codemasters
Developer : Codemasters
Category : Racing
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
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