F1 2010 – the F1 Fanatic review

F1 reviews

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

F1 2010, Codemasters’ official Formula 1 game, has finally arrived four years after the last licensed F1 title for major formats.

Appearing on the shelves as the most exciting F1 season in years heads for a thrilling conclusion, does the game give F1 fans the gaming experience they’ve been missing for years?

Behind the wheel

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

Not since the famed “Grand Prix” series by Geoff Crammond has an up-to-date Formula 1 game had an even halfway decent physics model. The previous generation of games, restricted to the Playstation only, were relatively easy to pick your way through providing you could point the car in the right direction.

F1 2010 is not a hardcore simulation in the rFactor/iRacing mould, but there is a impressive degree of realism in how the cars behave.

For example, it’s easy to spot the different in sensation between the option and prime tyres, or driving with full and empty fuel tanks. At slow tracks your car feels smothered in downforce. Trim the wings at Monza and it’s a different beast entirely – lightning acceleration but twitchy in the corners.

All of this assumes you play the game on ‘hard’ or ‘expert’ mode. Turn the difficulty setting down any lower than that and you’ll win with little difficulty even if you don’t know Eau Rouge from Rascasse. You’ll also completely miss out on the game at its best.

There are subtle differences in how the cars handle, too. As you’d expect, the Red Bull is quite forgiving to drive, HRT’s F110 less so.

There’s an array of settings for making the driving experience more or less difficult, some of which are essential if you use a gamepad instead of a steering wheel and pedals. See the F1 2010 checklist for details.

Weather

The car physics is tied into deeply impressive models for weather and grip. As in real life, the surface of the track is constantly evolving.

At the start of a practice session the track feels slippery, then as the rubber builds up it offers more grip. The effect is even more pronounced at non-permanent tracks like Monaco and Singapore.

The weather, too, is ever-changing. Drops of rain quickly send the cars scurrying into the pits en masse for faithfully-recreated intermediate and wet tyres.

The water effects are truly stunning. Racing in heavy rain is an intense experience which shows off “F1 2010″ at its best. Clouds of spray from cars up ahead blur your vision, forcing you to duck out of their slipstream to get a clear view ahead.

And when the rain eases off it’s up to you to gamble on intermediates or slicks. In the meantime you can prolong the life of your tyres by hunting out the still-damp sections of track away from the dry racing line.

Race weekend

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

You can dive straight into a race with a randomly-assigned grid position, do an abbreviated race weekend (60 minute practice, 20 minute qualifying and a race of variable length) or the full monty: three practice sessions, three-part qualifying and full race.

The entire weekend happens from the point of view of your garage. When you’re not on track the mechanics busy themselves with your car while you thumb through the timing screens, check your tyre allocations and have a peek at what your team mate is up to.

You can fiddle away with the set-up, either using one of seven presets suggested by your race engineer or by diving in to the more detailed options and working out wing angles, gear ratios, camber and the rest for yourself (see the checklist for more).

In practice and qualifying you can fast-forward through lulls in the action but you’ll lose precious minutes on the track if you prang your car and it needs repairing.

As is the case everywhere in the game, Codemasters have paid close attention to getting the little details right. Such as the order the cars appear on-track in practice: the smaller teams go out first, using up every precious moment of testing time, while the big guns sit back waiting for the track surface to improve.

Races

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

There’s not much of a challenge in getting away from the line quickly in “F1 2010″, which is a bit of a disappointment. However, Codemasters have addressed that typical racing game bugbear of being able to out-brake all the cars at the first corner. Rival drivers use the full width of the track so that even on the easiest modes it’s hard to gain a dozen places at once.

The negative aerodynamic effect of running closely behind a rival has clearly been toned down in the interests of producing a more exciting game. That allows you to test the artificial intelligence of your computer-controlled rivals, which is often impressive when it comes to racing for position.

As you move closer to them they move off-line to defend. Sometimes they seem a little too keen to block, with cars moving off-line far too soon when they’re in no immediate danger. A bit like Giancarlo Fisichella at Suzuka five years ago…

At other times the AI is less successful. In some instances your computer rivals appear rather dumb, queueing up behind you instead of diving past when you pull back onto the track after a spin. Brake-test a rival at 200mph and they’ll miraculously get on the brakes in time instead of having a Mark Webber-sized shunt.

If you run into the back of a rival you’ll often get slapped with a drive-through or time penalty. Do it too many times and you’ll be disqualified.

However the “F1 2010″ stewards seem less concerned about you pushing a driver who’s alongside your car off the track or into a wall (a la Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in Hungary).

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

Corner cutting is penalised too, so you won’t get away with cheating the exit kerbs at Hockenheim turn one or Istanbul turn nine, for example.

The game’s generally impressive attention to detail lapses somewhat when it comes to your race engineer. Simply put, there’s no shutting him up. You might be wrestling with the car at Spa in the rain when he starts waffling on about your engine temperature or, worst of all, points out that the track is wet, as if you hadn’t noticed.

You can mute him at the risk of missing his rare useful comments, such as when a yellow flag has been deployed or when you’re due a pit stop. But there are omissions too: switch to wet tyres during a dry race and he raises no objections, nor does he let you know how many of the cars in front of you are yet to make a pit stop.

You can also make adjustments at the wheel, tweaking your front wing angles and turning your engine up or down as needed. Running in the hot air of another car for too long can over-stress it and although reliability failures are not simulated a tired engine will be less powerful.

Pit stops are modelled – both mandatory and optional. You can select auto-pilot for pit stops or you can take control yourself and mow down your mechanics Kubica-style and cop a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

What strikes you most about the race mode is how it gives a much better impression of being in a real race than other games do. The crowd is bigger than on Friday or Saturday and you can hear the sound of other cars on nearby sections of the track.

Computer cars have races of their own and occasionally spin off, bringing out the yellow flags. If you’re at the back of the field being lapped you’ll be shown blue flags telling you to move over. As with the yellow flags, failing to obey them leads to a penalty.

Your F1 career

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

Career mode is where the game really comes together, giving you the ability to start with one of the three new teams for 2010 and work your way up into a top team.

Again, the experience is better if you commit to one of the more challenging difficulty levels. On medium level you can win easily in any car (I’ve just scooped the drivers’ championship with Virgin) but on the harder modes you have to focus on beating your team mate and hitting the targets set by your team.

The practice sessions take on a new dimension as the team brings upgrades to the car. Successfully beat a set lap time in practice and the performance boost is yours.

You are set targets for qualifying and the race, and the team are always keeping an eye on which of their two drivers are ahead. Fail to beat your team mate and he’ll get the upgrades instead of you.

As in real life, you need to keep on top of your engine allocation (not too difficult given you can’t blow them) and you have a limited number of tyres per weekend.

You have the usual career mode choices as different teams offer you contracts. On top of that are the “live the life” aspects of the game, where you are quizzed by reporters and your answers, along with your race performances, have a bearing on your future. In the early stages the press conference questions are very repetitive, but it improves as you get further into the season.

Graphics

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

You’ve got a full set of 2010 cars and tracks to play with, including the new Korean Grand Prix circuit which looks rather better in the game than the glimpse of it we had a few weeks ago. Still you have to wonder how accurately they can represent a track that hasn’t held a single race yet.

The car models are from the start of the season so there are several current details missing. For example, Mercedes haven’t got their distinctive split engine air intake and ‘blade’ roll hoop. The performance updates earned during career mode don’t seem to have a visible affect on the cars.

The same goes for the liveries. For example, the HRTs have their early-season livery on with white stripes. Nor do ‘Bruno’ and ‘Karun’ appear on the sidepods, just the HRT logo. Despite these omissions the quality of the liveries themselves is brilliant.

The simulation of Monaco – always a challenge for an F1 game – is excellent. Bristling with detail, it’s narrow enough to give you claustrophobia and so undulating that, from the cockpit view, at times it’s hard to see what piece of track you’re aiming for. A wall-brushing hot lap around here is something to be proud of.

The Singapore night and Abu Dhabi sunset races are present and correct – the light transitions at Yas Marina are especially impressive. The updated Silverstone and Bahrain tracks are there too, the latter complete with that hideous stretch of extra tarmac that has thankfully been deleted for 2011.

Given the quality of the graphics it’s a shame the replay feature deprives you of the opportunity to truly enjoy them. You can’t cycle through other cars to see what happened elsewhere in the race and the external camera angles aren’t very good.

Damage

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

By Codemasters’ own admission the damage model in “F1 2010″ leaves something to be desired.

Breakages are limited to the wings and wheels. Degrees of damage are simulated too – for example, you can knock an front end plate off but continue racing, turning up the wing angles to counter the understeer.

Lose the front wing entirely and the car refuses to turn at high speeds, which I discovered with spectacular consequences in the Monaco tunnel. The effect is toned down considerably in the easier difficulty settings.

But you need a very hefty blow to cause race-ending damage. I see Lewis Hamilton played “F1 2010″ before racing at Monza last week. Perhaps that’s why he thought he’d get away with his first-lap contact with Felipe Massa.

Patch

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

Codemasters have said there are no plans to release a patch or download-able content for “F1 2010″.

This is a pity, as there are obvious avenues for expansion and improvement – driver moves, model and graphic updates for cars and tracks, and so on. Not least of which cutting 80% of what your race engineer comes out with.

Although the game seems to have had a thorough bug-testing there are a couple of glitches. Notably turn 19 at Valencia, where the computer cars slow down far too much.

Some of the drivers’ performances could so with a tweak as well. If Vitaly Petrov and Vitantonio Liuzzi performed as well in real life as they do in this game there wouldn’t be quite so many rumours about who will be driving their cars next year.

Verdict

"F1 2010" by Codemasters

When it comes to F1 games you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Economics demands the game appeal to as broad an audience as possible, so it can’t be overly taxing. But F1 fans and dedicated gamers want a challenging, authentic game with lasting replay value.

“F1 2010″ goes a long way towards meeting those conflicting needs.

Rendered in high-definition with the best wet-weather effects I’ve ever seen in a racing game “F1 2010″ almost looks better than the real thing on a decent television.

The developers have paid close attention to the rule book and crafted a game that observes F1′s complicated and ever-changing regulations, yet presents them in a manner that creates an entertaining game.

It’s high time we saw official F1 titles expanded to include earlier seasons and support races but licence restrictions mean it is up to FOM whether we ever see that.

Improved damage modelling and further refinements to the artificial intelligence must be top of the list for areas to receive attention for “F1 2011″, along with race suspensions and stoppages. These are what keep the game from a top score.

F1 has gone far too long without an official game of any kind, and even longer without a good one. Codemasters have remedied that with a game that should appeal to as wide a mix of casual players, hardcore gamers and dedicated F1 fans as is possible.

F1 Fanatic rating

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“F1 2010″ by Codemasters

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146 comments on F1 2010 – the F1 Fanatic review

  1. Scott Joslin said on 23rd September 2010, 20:31

    I have played this for a couple of hours on my PS3 and here are my impressions.

    The overall appearance of the game is great, good graphics and decent navigation, however I feel my next set of comments were always going to happen due to the long time since a new F1 game came out and the hype around it in that it would always leave me feeling short.

    I cannot but help feel it’s like the curates egg – good in parts. My main gripe so far are:

    Frame rate and textures – The reflection on the car are juddery and bitty. It’s a shame as the rest out the outside environment is well put together. That mean when the car goes under a bridge or whenever the car has the reflection of a grandstand the slow juddering reflection make it look poor quality – It was similar on Grid. This is same in the quality of the image in the rearview mirror, there is only a fraction of the detail and does not appear smooth – it basically renders them useless.

    My biggest gripe so far is that the jerky effect on the drivers hand and steering wheel when you turn. I am using the normal logitech PS3 controller – Not a wheel, and the slightest touch moves the drivers hands erratically and the animation is not subtle like the input you are putting in. This also swings the drivers head to the following direction. The result of this is that it looks rough and untidy, although the actual physics of the car are smooth.

    I find this disappointing as you spend more time looking at the cars cockpit surroundings and head and hands than perhaps some of the far off graphics and textures. I would rather that central core around the cockpit and the driver seem smooth and accurate that be able to see trees in the far off distance.

    The sound of the engines are quite low quality, there is no differentiator between a Mercedes and a Ferrari engine and the sound of the engines on the replays are only as good as GP3 in that it sounds quite fake.

    But there are the negatives as I see them, there are many good points. On any setting higher than medium it is a proper challenge with the wet conditions being ‘mental’ and a job to keep it on the island.

    I also feel it lacks an introduction or training phase of the game. In other games the first things you do are introductory steps in to the buttons and how to use them, here you are thrown straight in and left to find out how the buttons are configured.

    So far I am yet to experience cold tyres or the effect of tyres going off, but that might be a setting.

    because of the how hard it can be managing the throttle, i find it very difficult to get in to a rhythm – but this could be just me.

    I am going to give this game a 4/5 for appearance and just about a 4/5 for game play.

  2. Scott Joslin said on 23rd September 2010, 20:34

    Oh one more thing – ‘Rob’ The engineer, I am not a fan! Cannot get the guy who narrates big brother out of my head (In the accent of Big Brother) “Lap 33 of the British GP and you have just crashed with Brian Dowling – go and see big bruther”

  3. Thanks Keith – was always going to, being an F1 mug, but will pick up a PS3 copy tomorrow.

    Haven’t played the game yet, but feel folk need to get a grip. It’s a game. Driving a coffee table with your PS3/360/PC around your lounge doesn’t make you Aryton Senna.

    Good review. Looking forward to it.

  4. Wasn’t even thinking about buying the game before this review but probably will now =D. Big sim fan, rfactor/Race On all the good wheels and whatnot so maybe it will be fun on harder mode. Too bad about the lack of patches but no really great F1 2010 mods for the RACE series yet so well worth the $40 on Steam it seems.

  5. JFranti said on 23rd September 2010, 22:19

    For my two cents: I’ve found the PC version to be quite excellent. The driving is not perfect, but if that were the case it wouldn’t be any fun. It has everything I want from an F1 game in terms of gameplay – I can feel when I’ve done a good sector, I can fight with the AI, the tracks are great and I love the progressive grip over a weekend. I pay attention to the things I watch for during the real Grands Prix.

    It’s good fun; anyone up for an F1F PC World Championship?

  6. SkinBintin said on 23rd September 2010, 23:22

    I absolutely adore it. While it does have some problems, the good things far outweigh the bad. Yeah, it’s far too easy on medium, but switch up to hard or expert modes and it just blows your mind. I love it. And if the first outing is this brilliant, imagine what next years version will be like!?!? Wow… thank the gaming gods that a developer like Codemasters have their hands on the F1 license now.

    Because let’s be honest… compared to this, F1: Championship Edition on PS3 was utter garbage!

  7. f1yankee said on 24th September 2010, 0:31

    after playing the pc version for 2 days, i give it 3 out of 5. this is very much an xbox game that runs on my computer, i.e. no patches, no mouse support at all, limited button mapping, a poor online interface, and menus from hell. it might be good by console standards, but an a pc there is SO MUCH left on the table. it’s disappointing to see that as little effort as possible went into the pc derivative.

    the forum is here:
    http://community.codemasters.com/forum/f1-2010-game-1316

    • f1yankee said on 24th September 2010, 0:47

      one of the more irritating things about this is the controller support – a pc controller works only for driving. for the menus its back to the keyboard.

      this is lame and kind of confusing, since everything is done with a controller on a console.

      • This is slightly worrying, which controller were you using? I have a HTPC which I play games on from the sofa, so having to get up and use the keyboard at every menu would be unacceptable to me. Hopefully with an official 360 controller the game will switch to “xbox mode” like other games do (like Dirt 2 does for example)

        • f1yankee said on 24th September 2010, 20:21

          i’m using a logitech cordless rumblepad 2. it’s very similar to a playstation controller in terms of shape and feel.

          yet another thorn in my side – with a controller, i don’t have access to (W) front wing adjustment, (E) engine mapping, and other functions. the commands can’t be mapped to a controller, and the keyboard commands stop working when “controller” is selected.

          the more i play this game, the worse it gets.

  8. I saw this game was coming out and was really looking forward to it…

    I then saw who was making it… Codemasters…. I then fell into virtual depression.

    EVERY game I have played by them is unfinished and shows it big time, they take 4 years producing a game and then release it with what seems to be another few months work to do on it.

    And by reading this review that seems to have happened YET AGAIN with F1 2010. Noteably the race engineer and limited damage to the car and information.

    I will probably buy it as there is simply nothing else out there, but I hope this is the first game I buy from Codemasters that doesn’t leave me annoyed and frustrated at it’s incomplete-ness, not holding my breath. :-(

  9. spankythewondermonkey said on 24th September 2010, 1:33

    ok, bought the ps3 version about an hour ago.

    first impressions on trying monza….

    graphics – poor. only runs at 720p and not at all smooth. didn’t know parts of monza were covered in boards?
    controls – my gt forceback wheel isn’t recognised by the game (works fine on gt5 prologue) so am stuck with the controller.
    handling (compared to gt5p) – arcadey, even on expert with all driver aids switched off. there’s very little ‘feel’ to the driving model.
    ai – haven’t got that far, and to be honest, i don’t think i will.

    first impressions are that i’ve wasted £33

    wait, i hear you say: “how can you decide that in only 30 mins of playing?”
    gt5p was an instant “oh my god, this is great”. i’m simply not getting that with this game.

    maybe the pc version is better, but the ps3 version is anything but a showcase product.
    i may change my tune tomorrow when i give it another go, but the fact i’ve turned the ps3 off, and the pc on to post this, kinda says it all as to what i think.

    • Most games runs in 720p anyway. The only game i have that runs in 1080p is GT5P. But i agree that the graphics are not very smooth.

    • spankythewondermonkey said on 24th September 2010, 10:22

      ok, have had a few more hours on it.

      wet weather driving is very good.

      how the track rubbers in is great.

      deffo let down by being only 720p. how can sony do gt5p in full 1080 with silky smoothe movement and codemasters produce something that is half the resolution and rough as a badgers a55 in comparison?

      difficult using the dualshock as you don’t have the fine throttle control, so really needs a wheel and pedals.
      doesn’t support the force gt (the wired one with the gran turismo logo in the middle), so if you have that wheel it ain’t gonna work.

      if a demo had been available, i probably wouldn’t have bought the full version.

      gut feeling is that i’ll sell it on within a week or so as it doesn’t meet with expectations. if it had better wheel support then i’d probably be singing a different tune

      at least i’ve got gt5 to look forward to in 39 days time.

      • spankythewondermonkey said on 24th September 2010, 13:56

        and have now just been out and bought the driving force GT wheel (supported by the game) – £80 in argos – and it’s a lot better.

        it’s now turned into a keeper simply due to the fact it’s orders of magnitude better with the wheel than the gamepad.

        still frustrated by the graphics though.

        just to clarify…the other wheel i had was the logitech GT force (blue bits on wheel, A, B, X & Y buttons, paddle shift, no d-pad, no PS button, no start or select buttons and no square circle etc buttons) which is NOT compatible.

  10. I actually love the game. having raced karts and cars since i was a teen I need it to feel right. And those games that are overly difficult to play.. it doesnt mean its hardcore proper because its hard..

    You have to realise.. this is a game.. its the whole experience and it should be ‘fun’. If you want realism and dont have millions.. grab a 125cc go kart and race. Thats my opinion.

    In f12010 I like the perception of speed as after a while racing any car.. they stop feeling fast.. especially on wide open tracks.. and this game does a great job of making you feel comfortable straight away.

    Wet weather is the best I have ever seen. Keeping your tires cool when the track is drying up is fantastic.

    Tires are sweet.. I feel like Felipe Massa cause I need 2 full laps to get the tires heated enough to do a decent lap! and the difference between primes and options are noticeable. I find when i’m doing quali I try to bank a quick lap in q1 using the prime tires and having to resort to using up my options just to make q2 (driving a Sauber)

    I love the fact that over a long race the racing line develops and you get more and more grip.. awesome!

    Gripes?

    1 – rear view mirrors.. what exactly am I looking at here? I find it odd that I have to look ‘back’ in an f1 car.. and when you do.. the cars behind look like little remote control cars darting around.. bit odd.

    2 – replays.. wow.. for the the advancements in gaming and in this game in particular.. this is probably the most disappointing part.. its not like they have stood still in this area.. they have gone backwards.. way way back. I just downloaded the Ferrari Academy game.. now THAT is a good replay.. take note Codemasters..

    3 – AI. Overall they are pretty good.. they fight back and you can have a great battle.. but they slow down in really weird area.. then speed up overly like the system is trying to make up for the odd slow down.. its a problem when you driving close cause sometimes you just smash into the back of them. This is especially the case in practice.. they drive slow trying to let you through.. then as soon as your slightly ahead.. they fight back! then they pass you.. and then slows down to let you through again..

    4. Damage.. this has been talked about and expected.

    5. Graphics: overall they are quite good. But whats with the constant haze and gloomy feel. Its like there is a war going on and everything is gloomy and sad.. it can be quite depressing at times. I understand you have a visor on but it shouldnt make things ‘hazy’ or gloomy at all..

    But overall I am really happy with what they have come up with. You can really get into a zone in this game.. blending in the throttle, using the extra grip as the day goes on.. love it!

    I’m thinking the issue will be sorted for 2011 but for 2010 the game is really solid and will provide a great platform.

    I’d give it a 8/10… great work from a really fussy gamer!

    • Very nice review there. When comparing your opinion to Davidsons remarks, it seems nothing beats the experience of really racing to judge the ‘realism’ of the game.

      Not the hardcore sim player wanting it more difficult than real just to be good at beating it and setup.

  11. Daniel said on 24th September 2010, 2:02

    “The developers have paid close attention to the rule book and crafted a game that observes F1′s complicated and ever-changing regulations, yet presents them in a manner that creates an entertaining game.”

    So, if the lights go green at Monaco on the last lap can I overtake or not? ;)

  12. The game seems good for what it is but if you want the “sim” experience then wait until next month when iracing.com releases the Williams FW31. I honestly can’t drive any other game after iracing, it’s just so good.

  13. charlieboy said on 24th September 2010, 3:45

    Played the game all yesterday on my ps3 and g27. Enjoyed it but code masters themselves have been quoted the game can go a long way still so this will do for now lets see what they do with the future releases.

    Online and time trial party’s get a big thumbs up

  14. HarryD said on 24th September 2010, 3:54

    Great Game…Hooked on playing it now…Cars drive great..Planted feeling…ticks all the boxes I require..
    AI of Drivers is very good…Something 90% of games out there wont have….Weather system is marvellous.
    Is not Perfect but what is these days….

    9/10 for me

  15. I bought the PC version over Steam, still can’t play it as the official release date in Singapore is the 25th… Arrgh… Also particularly galling is the fact that bootlegs have already been leaked, so us legitmate users are left hanging.

    I’ll also get the PS3 version so that I can meet up with you fellow fanatics online, does the PS3 game support voice chat (I noticed that Jake Humphrey and the Hamilton brothers were playing on Xbox)…

    • Cameron said on 24th September 2010, 7:55

      Wow, what happened to this game? I thought Codemasters were on a great trajectory after the fantastic “Dirt 2″, but the handling and physics model in this game completely falls flat. Driving feels extremely slow, nothing like the F1 experience. There is significant lag in all the controls, and the handling makes my G25 wheel feel more like a gamepad than a wheel.

      For all those who claim it needs to be dumbed down to make it more appealing to a mass audience, I give you the example of Dirt 2. Accessible enough to sell millions of copies, but realistic enough to please a hard core fan like me.

      Codemasters, what happened? This game has everything except except the driving part. Try Ferrari Virtual Academy if you want to feel anything like you’re actually piloting a F1 car.

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