Review: F1 2010

Pole position.

F1 2010 marks Codemasters’ first attempt to push the sport into the hands of PS3 and Xbox 360 owners, with a distinct absence for a couple of years making the wait (and the anticipation) much harder to bear.  Thankfully, the studio has, for the most part, got it exactly right, creating an exciting, explosive racer that’s happy to suit both hardcore sim fans and anyone looking for a quick hassle-free petrolhead fix via a sensible collection of adjustable driver assists and race weekends that expand or contract depending on how involved the player wishes to get.

The career mode, the most substantial section of the game, continues the first person viewpoint that the game offers up in place of regular menus; the player situated at the race paddock with the likes of Multiplayer and My F1 (the options screen) available with just a flick of the right stick to look around.  It’s a concept carried over from earlier Codemasters games and one that, whilst flashy, isn’t really required and also manages to feel a little bit contrived and forced when the game starts talking you through the various areas of your trailer, for example.

Regardless, the aforementioned career mode offers the player a series of increasingly difficult choices and challenges, with your agent expecting a certain finishing podium position or set of criteria to be completed in each race – successful driving will mean promotions, better car specifications and the chance to jump teams and progress through the ranks.  It’s a neat idea, taking you through a basic representation of a driver’s life but one that, at least at first, plays second fiddle to the ability to jump straight into a Grand Prix of your own choosing.

Grand Prix mode lets you select a team, a car and a driver, alongside the various weather conditions and whether you’d like to participate in just the race, qualifying and race or the whole weekend.  You can also adjust the length of the race, from 1 lap right up to the full 100% distance.  The following screen, where you build up the tracks you’d like to race on, is initially a little confusing and frustratingly minimal in presentation but ultimately quite intuitive, with the various tracks scrolling along the top as you drop them into the queue below.  The game thoughtfully gives you an approximate race or total season time too, so you know how long you’ll be playing for.

On the track, you’ll start in the pit lane, with the car’s computer facing you.  Here you can see who’s out on track during a qualifying session, who’s leading the pack, the expected weather conditions, information on the track and – most importantly – tweak your car’s settings.  The settings go as deep as you’d like, with top level options like aerodynamics and balance drilling down into sliders for front and rear wing angles and more sliders for ballast distribution and anti-roll bars respectively.

To the right of the computer is the engineer who, along with giving you the option to quit or start the session, lets you load and save car setups, ideal for really mastering the track.  You can also look left for the ability to change your tyres, from option, prime, intermediate and wet.  In race you can tap the d-pad right to bring up a small set of options to tweak your engine, wing and tyres with the ability to adjust the front wing a particularly clever addition.  The left bumper (L1) brings up a toggleable damage and temperate display too.

The visuals are stunning – solid, smooth and packed with atmosphere; without the glorious over the top flair so evident in Race Driver Grid or Dirt 2, perhaps, but then the Formula 1 tracks don’t always lend themselves to outrageous environments or flash and spectacle.  That said, Singapore’s night time races and the setting sun of Abu Dhabi are blissfully gorgeous, and the evergreen Monaco, often the track that suffers the most in terms of authenticity and frame rate with F1 games, is an absolute treat to drive through with no such problems.

The weather effects are exemplary, unmatched on consoles and startlingly realistic, with dynamic precipitation a real visual treat.  Graphically, in the driving rain with the spray from your opponents clouding your view, Codemaster’s Ego engine is worked to the bone, and the resulting display is nothing short of wonderful. From within the car (either the helmet cam or the one mounted above and behind) the sense of speed is breathtaking with the slightly underplayed track bounce adding to the feeling that you’re driving a car with serious grunt.

The on-screen in-race HUD (heads up display) is typically Codemasters – minimal but functional with everything present and correct, with the loading screens offering up the same stylised info panels that dish out moderately interesting bullet-pointed nuggets of knowledge whilst being teased by your controller’s right stick.  The career mode sections with the press seemed a little last-generation, though, and not just graphically, the options available to the player are dull and rather pointless, as if shoehorned in just to tick a checkbox.  The ability to rewind time, a hangover from Dirt, is a welcome option, though, even if the number of rewinds available is rather limited, especially when compared to the far more flexible system used in Forza 3.

Still, the in-game racing and handling, where it really matters, is nigh on perfection.  With the assists off and a slippery track F1 2010 demands more concentration and knowledge of the track and your car than any other racing simulation we’ve played – a fact that will resonate as absolute nirvana for serious enthusiasts and yet, with just a few toggles, the game becomes the perfect entry-level arcade racer too – it’s a bewilderingly versatile and complete package, a confident first pitch from the studio and one that has set the bar impressively high for future racers.

Pros:

  • Authentic license means the cars, drivers and tracks are all perfect
  • Incredible graphics
  • Realistic sounds
  • Easily the best F1 game ever to grace a console

Cons:

  • No split screen multiplayer
  • No race commentary, just the pit crew
  • Car damage is visually basic

Codemasters’ latest racer is absolutely essential for fans of F1, and motorsport in general.  Its attention to detail and authentic licenses will mean more to some than others but the perfect marriage of compelling, adjustable driving mechanics and graphics to die for will sell the game far wider than the hardcore.  If you’re looking for a racing game that will grow with you over the coming months, F1 2010 is that game.  It’s not perfect, but it does more than enough right to make it a non-brainer for most – utterly brilliant.

Score: 9/10

Note: final retail review code was unavailable at the time of going to press.

82 Comments

  1. I detest F1 with every fibre of my body, but this game looks & sounds amazing.
    Love the sound of it having both the anally retentive tweaking of the cars with the whole race weekend, aswell as the more arcade style, just jump in and race Grand Prix mode.
    Great stuff!

    • I second that i cant stand it, yet im a proper petrol head, the only thing holding me back from trying it is Gran Turismo…..drool

      • will be waiting for the big one personally. Looks excellent though

    • I love F1 with every fibre of my body, and this game looks and sounds amazing.

      So, Is this a review of the PS3 or 360 version ( I’m guessing 360 ) as Id like to know

      • nofi had the PS3 version in the hands on, so it should be safe to say this review is on PS3.

    • same here,never liked it,never will. this one showed some promise to changing my mind but NO SPLIT SCREEN MULTIPLAYER!!!WTF

  2. good review nofi, really impressed with the amount of car set up options, even though i have no idea how to use them. Any tutorials? shame theres no commentary but lets face it, i dont want to hear brundle in an f1 game, i want to hear murray! really cant wait to play this later, gonna crank the surround sound up and draw the curtains!. I take it you didnt have a chance to venture online?

  3. Can’t till Friday, any custom soundtracks?

    • Why? You got some MP3s of Murray Walker?

  4. Sounds epic.

    Hopefully I get mine from ShopTo today!

  5. Great review Nofi! Can’t wait to play it!

    I got my dispatch notification yesterday morning from Shopto, so i hope my copy turns up this morning, though i’m gonna have to wait until 6pm to play it :)

  6. my F1 got posted yesterday so hopefully ill get to play it today, i cant wait for this game :D

  7. there should be some pretty action packed tsa meets occuring soon with so many of us buying it!

  8. Great review, my copy got posted yesterday so should hopefully be there when I get home!

    • where did you order from? mines not been posted yet =[ i fear i wont get it untill next week now

      • most of us on here ordered from shopto.net

      • I got my dispatch notice yesterday morning, but it’s not come in todays post – unless it’s coming by lorry, it looks like it’ll be Thursday before I get to play :(

      • ah pete, you’ve put doubt in my mind! damn you :-P lol

      • ordered mine from zavvi coz i got a 10% code wasnt acutrly gona get it until i got the code only paying 28 quid but be nice to get it for the weekend

      • Hmm – Dead Rising 2 turned up at my house at about 4pm, by lorry, but still no sign of F1 and it was dispatched first. Even odder, the parcel had been signed for but there was no-one in to sign for it – it’d been left on the doorstep.

        Times like this necessitate a beard for contemplative stroking..

  9. Mine should be waiting for me when I get in, hoping its ace with a wheel!

  10. Been looking forward to this more than GT5 but I’m disappointed by the lack of split screen multiplayer.

    Hopefully F1 2011 will add it and commentary (though if I get used to the pit crew I may not miss it).

    • I imagine that most of the things that you would like included in the game could be patched in via updates or DLC, even new Liveries for the seasons ahead.

      • i think yourll find work on 2011 is well underway cant see them bringing to much dlc out

      • You are joking aren’t you? The 2011 season starts in March and this season ends in November. Who in their right mind would bring out a sequel within 4 months (so it is released on time for the start of the season) to such a highly anticipated game. No mate, I don’t think that your 2011 game will surface, it would be pointless.

      • 2011 will be out Sepetember time next year. It always takes a while to get new F1 games out as the rules are only set in stone toward the end of the year. The cars aren’t normally unveiled until Feb/March and no one really knows how fast the cars really are until half way through the season.

      • On their official twiiter page they say no DLC as they’re putting it all into next year’s game.

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