Gamersyde Review : F1 2010
After two successful releases of the DIRT franchise and GRID – which tackled track-racing in a somewhat different manner – Codemasters have decided to return to slick tires once more with an official Formula 1 game. The masters of arcadey racing games are now moving closer to the realm of simulation, under close monitoring of the FIA. As a result, F1 2010 appears to be on the realistic side, and therefore, it can be classified into the arcade/sim category. The career objectives of my in-game pilot perfectly matched my own schedule for the release of this review. Therefore, the pressure I felt during the Grand Prix events was real! Now you’re one click away from my emotion-packed impressions of the game.
Credits: Once again kudos to Balita for translating the article. :)
Players will be directly immersed in the life of a racing driver from the very first moments of the game as they take part in a press conference to reveal themselves to the world. This is a realistic manner of beginning such a career. During the conference, a series of questions will enable players to shape up their driver profile: number of seasons they wish to play through – 3, 5 or 7 – difficulty level and their future team. At the beginning of the game, the smaller teams are obviously the only ones available. Drivers will have to prove their abilities in order to draw the attention of the more prestigious ones. After creating our driver profile, we are headed to the paddock, which is the main menu of the game. Strangely enough, the word “DIRT” is the first thing that came to my mind while browsing the menu. However, this is the only comparable thing between both games. The background music is very pleasant and somewhat reminiscent of the soothing lounge tunes used in GRID. Among other things, the menus offer players the opportunity to enjoy the time attack mode on all 19 tracks of the 2010 season, accompanied by the good ol’, trustworthy, timeless ghost car (pun intended). It is possible to enjoy this mode with some friends with just a single controller – players taking turns – which is an interesting new feature. Another menu gives impatient drivers the chance to take part in Grand Prix race without losing any more time. Another piece of novelty is the possibility to create a customized season with the following parameters: favorite tracks, order of appearance and weather conditions. It also possible to choose the number of laps per race, ranging from about 10 laps – resulting in 15 to 25 minute races, which is about 20% of an actual race – to the exact number of laps in real life – resulting in several hours of driving, obviously.
Inside the truck branded with the team’s livery, players have access to the following career management features: contract management, real-time monitoring of the evolution of their reputation and/or awards, and obviously Grand Prix participation. Many important steps and decisions of their career will be taken in this truck. The lovely Gabrielle keeps players informed of each and every event that may concern them: current contract status, level of interest of the other teams, and even the criticism consecutive to the interviews. Yes, interviews. The developers have included them in the career mode, which is a nice feature. Now the illusion would have been perfect if there were good looking, short skirt wearing ladies around. Unfortunately, this glamorous aspect of Grand Prix events is far from the real thing here, because of character modeling: all faces look ugly and dull. Concerning the interviews, it is also regrettable to see the very same people all the time, asking the very same questions over and over as if they had bad memory. However, the answers can have a direct impact on your career, such as influencing on the reputation of your team, or defining your rival during the races. So the game is not exclusively about track racing. Players will also have to manage their careers like real F1 drivers. As stated in the introduction of this review, F1 2010 offers an experience that lies between pure simulation and friendly arcade driving. A great number of parameters enable to tune the game towards one side or the other. Your choices can have a significant impact on the difficulty level. The craziest people may dare to remove all the driving assists, which is more about career suicide than bravery once rain starts pouring down.
Prior to sitting behind the wheel of their high-powered cars, players will have to cope with the endless loadings between the paddock and the pits. Therefore, hard drive installation is highly recommended. These loadings are particularly annoying since players may eventually decide to speed their way up to the start line by avoiding the interviews held on the paddock at each step of the Grand Prix. Upon entering the pits – experiencing things through the eyes of their driver – players will find themselves sitting in their car, with all other team members working around the machine. Players will have to look around in order to browse through the menus, and tune up their vehicle, check the weather forecast for the weekend, or even ask their engineer to take care of everything mechanical before heading to the track. The more mechanically oriented / enthusiastic players have the opportunity to fine tune their cars the way they want to, and save their favorite setups. Similarly to a real Grand Prix, players can take part in free practice and qualifying sessions before the actual race. The free practice sessions are interesting in order to learn the tracks, obviously. From time to time, players will also be offered the chance to tackle R&D objectives, in order to gain some upgrades for future events. In this regard, the number one driver of the team is always the first to take advantage of these upgrades. If you happen not be that driver, you’d better be patient.
Now that you know everything about the pits, it is time for the serious deal: heading to the race track! A free practice session lasts 1 hour tops. Qualifying doesn’t exceed 20 minutes. Impatient players can very well skip both should they want to. Depending on the difficulty settings you choose, tire wear, damage and fuel level are factors you will have to take into account to plan your pit stops. Once you feel everything’s been planned then you’re ready for the race! Your engineer will always tell you a few things before you go, sometimes intending to put pressure on you, or just to encourage you. This is situation specific. In addition to the common in-game views, there is a car cam – like on TV – which offers great visibility while remaining close enough to the road for maximum sensations. The driver cam is very difficult to play with since the field of view is very limited. However, this view will be the number one choice for those willing to understand how cold-blooded real drivers need to be. Should players want to use this view and be effective at the same time, the ideal thing to do is to try and keep moving the driver’s head in order to have the broadest visibility in each situation, and that’s with a flick on the right stick. But this is really tricky and almost impossible to do when using manual transmission or playing with a steering wheel.
Driving and speed sensations are essential in games like this. And they are thankfully very good here. To be honest, immersion is so good that I even found myself tilting my head when tackling some corners. Players can have a significant influence over the handling depending on the parameters they choose. These range from the number of driving assists to in-race weather. Choosing the wrong setup will turn you into the unlucky driver of a… piece of soap sliding down a bathtub! I wanted to experience the game in the highest level of realism, so I switched tire management on. This option requires players to monitor tire wear, which obviously has an impact on grip. Undoubtedly realistic… Truly more difficult as well! The car feels much heavier under these conditions. Moreover, should you decide to switch the driving assists on or not, you will rapidly realize their impact on your lap times. Some of you may think this was the perfect opportunity to give the damage system a test. It was. The amount of damage greatly varies depending on the assist level chosen by players. However, despite having debris and spoilers flying around after brutal impacts, influence on handling is hardly noticeable. That is provided you do not completely wreck your car after a fatal collision. All good racing games developed by Codemasters offer a rewind feature which has thankfully been included here. Turn back the hands of the time and rewrite history all over! Including this feature is particularly useful when driving on the wet. And you’ll need it for sure because visibility is very low and grip almost nonexistent! The visual effects of a pouring rain and soggy tarmac are amazingly realistic, but wait until you see the sheer beauty of the sun setting over the marina in Abu Dhabi… Last major thing I just need to mention is the damage model, which is kind of average. Players will not need several driving hours before noticing that damage is a little disappointing from a visual point of view. Comparing it to Grid or Dirt doesn’t help either since both games offered significant breakthroughs in this area. The damage in F1 2010 is still very acceptable, but undeniable fact is that the execution is not as advanced as in other Codemasters releases.
The weather is likely to change at random during a race, so you need to be ready for unplanned pit stops since the consequences are more than just visual. Operating the D-Pad enables you to communicate with your team in a very easy way, should you need to change some settings on the fly, or plan your pit stops. Bear in mind though that a crowded pit lane will translate into losing precious time before being able to drive your way out. This can make you furious. Trust me. Depending on your reputation and results over the season, the other teams may offer you to join them for a given amount of money. Unfortunately there’s nothing to do with the money, except marvel at how rich you are… From a technical point of view, the reputation of the Ego engine is only a little bruised (pun intended) by a few framerate and display issues with some stage/landscape elements. However, the game remains visually enticing for any F1 enthusiast, as it does justice to your gaming system.
Codemasters demonstrated once again their ability to develop an original, captivating, realistic and adrenaline-packed driving game. The various modes do not re-invent the genre but they still offer some refreshing new ideas. The career mode has been very well thought out as it offers an almost exhaustive experience, including team managers, engineers and journalists. Everything has been designed for credibility, making immersion even greater. Despite a few minor drawbacks on the technical side and some disappointing modeling at times, F1 2010 appears to be the game that Formula 1 crowds have been waiting for. Now the other players might end up being rapidly bored with this specific part of the automotive world, but that’s another question.
About the game
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