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. m.j.stanley (@mjstanley) said on 24th September 2010, 8:36

    I’ve added a post to the F1 2010 forum thread collating all the Gamertags/PSN IDs listed so far.

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/forum/topic.php?id=242&page=2

  2. Jonsracing82 said on 24th September 2010, 8:45

    also at the top of the list for “F1 2011″ is car failures, it may be frustrating but it adds realism

  3. Schumi the greatest said on 24th September 2010, 8:57

    Well here’s my first impression after about 3 hours gameplay.

    Graphics – brilliant the cars and the surroundings look great, in wet weather the puddles etc give it a much more authentic look to it and driving behind someone in the spray is impossible!

    Handling – i find the cars very akward to drive at the moment, very hard to hit the apex of most corners…i started with abs and brake assist off with the virtual line for corners only…im braking hard when the red line appears but i end up running horribly wide try putting the throttle down and end up spinning. I had traction control on medium. It seems very hard to get into a rythym…every corner seems like a challenge and i know what corner is coming next..so little dissapointed with that but im hoping thats down to lack of game play.

    AI – Seeems very good to start, you can have exciting battles with the other drivers although more often than not you end up on top. I did a grand prix at spa in the wet and saw other drivers flying off the road which impressed me too many previous games the AI drivers were on rails it seemed.

    I started a craeer in a lotus and with abs on traction control full i could have got into the top 10 for Q3.

    Just hopong iafter a few more hours il get used to the cars need to spin every time i touch the throttle. but im shcoked you cant compete in the 2010 championship as 1 of the real life drivers….i dont understand why to be honest.

  4. ajokay said on 24th September 2010, 9:12

    “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.”

    Isn’t that what Smedley does all the time to Flippy? It’s the kind of thing that he seems to need to be told.

  5. PC REVIEW…This is an arcade game. Not a sim. Nothing like RFactor, which is my all time favorite. Everything looks pretty and the attention to detail is top notch. But all I really care about is driving an F1 car. The physics of the handling ruins this game for me. The cars are stapled to the ground and the rear end never breaks loose until you do something silly and then it justs snaps loose and there is no saving it. It feels like the car just moves sideways instead of turning on an axis. Even when adjusting the wings to encourage oversteer I still can’t gradually break the rear end loose to get into a turn/hairpin. Its like its glued to the road until all of a sudden BANG, its gone and you’re backwards. Like if stability control is locked on and you can’t turn it off. I’m sure that new players to the scene of racing will love the superglued feeling but I want my car to move around on the track and turn, not slide sideways. I’ll admit that since its so easy to drive that the racing against other cars is fun since you can dart around and not lose grip.

    • Im sorta glad that i have not play RFactor as its sounds as if any F1 game would struggle to comepete against it on a realism level.

      I do however play a lot of Forza 3 and find the car physics in that to be brilliant. I just hope that im not going to be too dissapointed by how the cars feel in F1 2010 as im very much used to the high standards set in Forza. You can really feel the tarmac through the wheels and have a true sense of where the limit in traction is.

      Will soon see, off to buy it at lunch. Shame work has to get in the way of playing it this afternoon.

      • Its Hammer time said on 27th September 2010, 16:57

        Torg, like you i like the physics in Forza. I have spent two days on the f1 game and its like Forza on Steroids – everything happens so fast. You can’t thumb round Silverstone with an occasional sip of your tea/ bite of cake on the straights – it is full concentration, sweaty palms, exhilerating. I have never played rfactor, but it must be some game if it is better than ‘F1 2010′.

        I am gleefully off home to take my Lotus to china for the 4 race of the season – qualified 9th last night :-)

    • Aussie Fan said on 25th September 2010, 4:09

      “the rear end never breaks loose, then it just snaps & there is no saving it????”

      Suggestion, turn the traction control off, it will spin in 1st 2nd 3rd & even 4th sometimes depending on your setup, also you can feel it starting to spin up & how much grip it has in each gear, with TCS on it just holds for a while then spins with no notice, as you don’t realize you are giving it waaaaayy too much throttle at that point.

  6. Schumi the greatest said on 24th September 2010, 11:11

    what steering wheel would anyone reccomend for ps3??

    • spankythewondermonkey said on 24th September 2010, 13:58

      depends on budget. i just bought the logitech driving force GT from argos for £80 and the game is significantly better. the ‘ultimate’ wheel is the G27, but it ain’t cheap.

  7. graham228221 said on 24th September 2010, 11:34

    Not overly impressed with the graphics, the environment looks nice but I can’t help but feel the other cars look like cardboard cut-outs. Dirt and Grid looked much better in this respect, bit disappointed. And you straight away notice the weird slowing down bug of the other cars.

    This is after 15 minutes play though, before FP1 started.

    Stupidly went for short races at Singapore and then a wet Monaco (has to be done), with almost all assists off, and it was bloody impossible! Looking forward to seeing what the more open tracks are like. The penalties are frustrating, I’m thinking it’s best to turn them off if you’re just having a short sprint race as you want to go all out.

    It’s really not a sim, but I think I’m going to enjoy it because it’s challenging, there’s lots to think about on and off track and I love games where I can get really nerdy.

    And those moaning about the lack of car failures, surely the well-documented bugs give you some random, out-of-your-hands incidents to worry about!

  8. Just finished my First race at Bahrain. For some reason the Lapped guy, He was a torro rosso, just didnt let me pass. He was defending his position, position 24. n i was leading. i had to bump into him which got vettel real close to my rear end. The last 2 laps were just painful after tat!

  9. A Singh said on 24th September 2010, 16:34

    Got it yesterday for PS3. Seems fantastic already, though the last racing game I bought was GT4 for PS2.

    So much simulation is unbelievable

  10. I bought, installed and played the PC version. So far, I really like the track’s recreations. The details they have paid attention to are well represented, in my opinion. The track rubbering in over the course of a session and the difference between the prime and option tyre are noticeable enough to be an interesting factor.

    Since I didn’t expect a never-say-die simulation, I’m okay with how driving the cars feels. There are no extreme corrections and ragged steering movements in real Grand Prix racing these days, apparently, at least with a well-performing car, so likewise, the cars in the game behave rather well. At least it’s my impression that the cars’ downforce improves the faster you go — and controlling the throttle out of slower corners is key, which makes it difficult as I don’t have the advanced control of a wheel at my computer…

    Yesterday, I did a first full-distance race for testing. Highest difficulty level, so I was quite surprised to just be able to squeeze into Q2. The race was a completely different matter, though. The car felt really different to me with as much fuel as it realistically would have had at the beginning of the race, and I lost major time during the middle part because the lapping drivers came in packs quite closely and, just as in real life, you cannot keep on ignoring the blue flags.

    What I don’t like, so far, is that I didn’t realise too much of an impact of making the kinds of setup changes that are possible. My first impressions are that it’s much more important to get a good lap, not missing any apexes and getting on the throttle as quickly as possible.

    What I find downright annoying is the impression that there may well be some kind of helmeted bobble-head in the car instead of something like a driver. It may be a funny indicator of the g-forces involved, but those animations look very unrealistically exaggerated to me.

  11. charlieboy said on 25th September 2010, 7:01

    Arrggh I must of been playing this game for like there days straight now and the AI is starting to get more and more erratic?

    Is it just me or do they seem to just not know what to do in some circumstances so they just stop and you get a penalty or just run into you.

    Still loving the game despite this :P

  12. If you haven’t already got this game, I recommend that you don’t. It turns out that Codemasters haven’t actually made a racing game, they’ve made an elaborate hoax of a number cruncher where the cars you see on track are purely there for cosmetic reasons and the actual times are generated. As soon as a car goes out of view, it no longer exists until you come within a certain distance. It now makes sense why you can’t see the gaps to other cars mid-race, why you cant view replays from an AI perspective and why the behaviour/laptimes seem erratic and unrealistic. It’s because the AI cars you see don’t actually exist. Here’s the thread on the Codemasters forum:
    http://community.codemasters.com/forum/f1-2010-game-1316/431006-confirmed-race-ai-phoney.html

    Before anybody disregards me, thinking I’m just a hater of Codemasters or a general troll, I would like to point out that I’ve had this game on pre-order for months. Got it delivered on Friday and have been playing it religiously since, and absolutely loving it! The immersion, graphics and wheel to wheel action didn’t even compare to anything else out there. First four races done in my career, plenty of time trials and I went to Barcelona for round 5 having gotten lucky in Shanghai in changeable conditions and bagged a 9th place for Hispania! Before going out for my final qualifying lap in Spain, I was ahead of all the other new teams on the timing sheets. Great, I thought, I’ll get myself another lap in to be sure. I went out of the pits directly behind Glock and managed to overtake him down the back straight on my qualifying lap and when I crossed the time, I had a new personal best time. Yet when I saw the timing sheet at the end, Glock had qualified ahead of me. How? I started my lap behind him, finished ahead of him, yet he was the faster car? I was a bit suspicious right away and it turns out that I wasn’t the only one after reading that thread…

    It’s so massively disappointing that after all the hype and good press, and after all the years of waiting for a new official F1 game, it turns out to be that the entire ‘racing’ aspect is a complete fabrication.

  13. I too also bought the game and have become victim of a one of the long list of problems with this game that have been posted here

    http://uk.gamespot.com/xbox360/driving/f12010/show_msgs.php?topic_id=m-1-56511071&pid=959808

    My problem is when i save a game and come back to play i get a corrupt data message. I cant get past melbourne practice. I am not the only one with this problem and it appears that it is due to the R&D part of the game. Which i just did before saving and to go out to come back and find it wont load. This happened twice already, as i accepted the first time it may have happened due to chance.

    It appears this game is full of bugs. Which i find completely unacceptable. Codemasters better take back that no update rubbish and get this game sorted or i am sending it back for a full refund.

  14. Thing is… yes the game has a few bugs, and yes there are some items which could do with general improvement (race engineer’s comments being one, though unlike Keith I’m finding him to be far from chatty – he barely says anything and when he does it’s usually pointless!)… but despite that I’m finding it pretty damn good.

    I’m playing half way between medium and hard: braking assists off, traction control off, automatic gears (gamepad, no wheel!) guideline on corners only (for my rookie season!), full flags, tyres and fuel on, AI on professional.

    It’s *seriously* challenging, but SO much fun getting a perfect lap after 10 tries, or finally starting to string good times together without spinning off.

    I could go on, but have to go. I reckon the game does need a patch, but even without it’s damn good fun! No regrets.

  15. Sorry Keith but after playing this game for a few days now this doesn’t even deserve a 2/5 since there are so many problems and glitches with this rushed piece of work. I know my games since i’ve played them years before i watched F1.

    1:Rules for you are ten times stricter then for the AI aka: you get drive through’s for spinning off and getting hit by another car, pit crew ruins your race by keeping you in for over 20 seconds! while there are plenty of spaces to be released. Experienced how? was 9th place infront of Rubens and Rosberg about to pit, I slow down and both cars behind me turn into ghosts and pass right through me.. i then pit knowing i could get them on the straight, no worries eh? Well the tyres get put on and my lollipop dude who must be on my teamates payroll, because i ended up 24th when i got back on the circuit, this is a joke codemasters since glock was release right ontop of me and he pitted 15 seconds after me.

    2.AI is too aggressive towards you in practice and qualifying, Experienced how? was on a flying lap in practice in shanghai, sutil comes out of the pits on the right of me and then tries to t-bone me sebastien style, sorry in real life that kind of move would get you sent back a few places, maybe banned for dangerous driving. And the best thing is no blue flag or warning flag for sutil so it takes me a whole sector to overtake him ruining my time… it also did it again in qualifying 1, i’m the first out to try and set a time in the wet so nobody can get in my way, 1 lap gone i’m on the flying lap, good news nobody in my way until the long straight in sector 3, lewis is up infront of me i’m closing him down and he then decides to place his car in a defensive posistion spraying tons of water in my face… i then move more too the right trying to see where i’m going but he keeps moving infront of me until the braking zone and I finally get past him, cheers AI lewis………..

    3:I have the Xbox 360 version so i have this freeze glitch which keeps coming up, yes i have put it on my hardrive and it still does the same thing every 5-10 minutes, on a good run it wont do it for 30 minutes. I have also heard save corruptions have hit all formats so good luck doing a 7 year career if you are on your 2nd-3rd season now.

    4.Save your pennies for F1 2011 or wait until this thing is going for a tenner in a clearout sale at GAME, or until the day codemasters bother to patch everything which it’s not by the looks of it, so avoid this game I say.

    5.There are more glitches and problems if you check them out on Google search, just take a look since this gives the hint why codemasters didn’t bother to do a BETA before release day, full well knowing it would take weeks-months to sort out.

    All you will have on this game on the season is stress and dissapointment with all the effort you put into the practice and qualifying to get the times down is to just be let down by half baked work to mess up your race.

    I was so excited to get this game for years and all i get is cheap work, if you need a game tester “cough” “cough” for the future you might need to get somebody better then what you have now because they failed with a perfect 10.

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