F1 2010 Xbox 360 Review

October 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Codemasters – Developer – Codemasters – Genre –  Racing – Players – 1-12 – Age Rating – 3+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

Codemasters have a long heritage of making excellent racing games, everything from the TOCA series and the pure Colin McRae rallying games to the more recent examples of GRID and the DiRT series. Let me say just this, when Codemasters are developing a racing game I always know that it’s in very safe hands.

Now the publisher and developer have turned their hands to making Formula 1 games, having acquired the licence after Sony decided to stop making games of the sport. The result for their Xbox 360 and PS3 debut is the EGO engine powered F1 2010, and well, like I mentioned above, I’ll just say that the licence is in very safe and careful hands right now.

First up I’ve got to say some really positive things about the slick presentation. The menu screen ispresented in the backstage paddock and the career options are inside a private trailer, which all makes it feel as if you are an F1 star before you are even out on the track. In more recent years Codemasters have been renowned for their good and bad presentation, everything from the stat screens when waiting for GRID to load ((which is better than a spinning disc or a loading bar any day of the week) to the garishness and overly loud presentation of DiRT 2, F1 2010 is certainly up there with their better efforts.

You choose your nationality at the beginning of the game and in a nice touch you'll be informed when you're racing on your home track during the career mode.

When it comes to the racing there’s various driving assists to tinker with. There’s a very generous brake assist which basically does all the braking for you, although isn’t very helpful if you’re looking for some nippy lap times, as well as ABS and traction control. All of these assists will keep the car on the track, although the real challenge comes when they’re turned off, as there’s no in-between here, this is most certainly a pure racing simulation. It will require the utmost skill, patience and concentration to keep these speed machines on the track, but there’s definitely a satisfying feeling when you eventually get into your stride, driving the cars like an F1 world champion.

When you’re playing it with everything set to realistic, you’ll have to be very much aware of engine, tyre and brake temperatures as you’ll want these at the optimal levels of heat whenever possible, bringing about the peak performance of your car. Tyre wear must also be taken into consideration, but if you choose to play it this way you can hardly expect to be let off lightly, such is the life of an F1 driver.

The real F1 rules are also included and will stop certain players from bullying opponents and taking shortcuts across the track, even on the lowest setting. Indeed, it’s best to avoid coming together with an opponent at all times if possible – a slight shunt can get you a warning or a penalty, which seems a little overly harsh at times, although F1 can hardly be called a contact sport. You’ll also have to be aware as to where your tyres go when you’re driving – straying slightly off the track when cornering can invalidate lap times during practice and qualifying sessions as well as get you warnings and penalties at any time. Respect your opponents and the racing line and you won’t get a black flag waved in your face.

As for the level of damage that can be incurred to your own and your opponent’s cars, this can be purely cosmetic or entirely something you should be afraid of, with the reality of a race retirement becoming just that when you have full damage turned on. Luckily the Flashback feature (previously seen in GRID and DiRT) allows you to rewind time to correct any mistakes, although you only get a finite amount of Flashbacks, and if you’d rather do it all on your own without feeling the temptation to resort to the feature, Flashbacks can be turned off altogether.

As for options, the career mode is almost everything you could hope for in an F1 game. Starting your career driving for one of the smaller and less proficient teams, eventually your success will get you offers from the bigger and better teams. You can go for the slog of a full weekend and lengthy races or you can go for a shorter race weekend, which is all good as 50+ laps isn’t always appealing. You’ll be handed upgrades for your car, you’ll have to face the press in the paddock as well as during press conferences, in which you’ll even be asked who you think your closest rival is at a certain point in the season, and you’ll have to meet specific objectives if you are hoping for a contract renewal from the man in charge. I can’t really fault the mode, although the interviewer’s questions do become a little repetitive over time. Besides the career you can set up custom Grand Prix’s, there’s time trials and online multiplayer for up to 12 players, which performs just as it should.

AI does a fine job of behaving realistically, although is it scripted? Codemasters says not.

Visually, F1 2010 is a stunner. The car models are shiny and detailed and the game moves along at a pace that only slows down when you hit the brakes. The game has a dynamic weather system and when the rain starts to pour it looks amazingly authentic – you’ll even have spray practically blinding you when you’re chasing other cars. Of course, being a Codemasters development, the sound front is also most impressive and you’ll really feel as if you’re out on an F1 track when you hear the throaty whine of the engines. I’m quite surprised that there’s no commentary though.

F1 2010 apparently has a list of bugs that Codemasters are working on fixing, although personally I didn’t experience a single one and can only base the review on what I encountered when I was playing. So my own conclusion based on my own experiences is that the game is incredibly fast, authentic in many ways and a lot more than a simple starting point for Codemasters to build upon. The future of F1 games has just got very exciting.