REVIEW: F1 2010

‘With half the race gone, there is half the race still to go’ – Murray Walker

F1 games have the potential to be massive, yet, apart from the first two outings in the mid 90s, the long-running F1 series of Sony’s disappointed; culminating in 2007’s frustrating Formula 1 Championship Edition.

F1 2010 is the first chance we’ve had to realise the thrill of F1 across this generation of consoles and it doesn’t disappoint. For casual gamers there’s plenty of customisation available, from the length of your race to the amount of help you need keeping the car on track. For hardcore F1 fans there are complete race weekends featuring practice sessions, all three stages of qualifying and a full-length race. Difficulty levels control the depth of your experience and are the difference between accelerating perfectly through Monaco’s tightest corners and smashing a wall because you misjudged your set up. There’s enough to keep testing even the most skilled of racers, thanks in part to the variable weather. When the heavens open the race becomes a real tussle, even with a wet weather set up.

Devil in the Detail

You can forge your own career or race as one of the 24 current drivers from all 12 teams. Off track the campaign involves you in press conferences and interviews, which are a bit limited but look great. All 19 circuits of the 2010 season are present and look fantastic and although most of the time you’ll be concentrating too much to notice the stunning backdrops, when you do it can be breathtaking. The floodlit Singapore circuit stands out and as you notice fireworks exploding against the city’s skyline it’s clear that what this game does well, it does very well.

But it’s the missing details that frustrate. For every blisteringly fast chicane there’s a moment that slows your enthusiasm. The lack of commentary isn’t as disappointing as you’d think until you’ve had a few radio messages from your race engineer, feeding you incorrect timings and patronising remarks. The joy of winning the World Championship is soured by his rigid, repetitive and impassive congratulations. Murray Walker’s exuberant warblings are never remembered so fondly.

First Corner Carnage

The online multiplayer is both brilliant and exhausting. Racing against a group of friends is hilarious as well as thrilling, while taking part in a one off qualifying session lets you outwit your rivals by putting together the perfect lap. The penalty system is welcome but needs improving – if someone shunts you and sends you innocently spinning into another opponent you’ll usually receive a ten-second penalty. Likewise, half the field will crash on the first corner of nearly every race, meaning being in pole position tends to result in unavoidable trouble – imagine a game of extreme ‘British Bulldog’.

F1 2010 is a great introduction to Codemaster’s plans for the license and provides hours of competition in the campaign or online. Taking the chequered flag has never looked and felt so good.

Verdict: 8/10 A high-speed racer with a glamorous edge.

Looks and feels like F1 should

Breathtaking speed through corners

Difficulty levels maintain the challenge

X Online needs polishing

X Work needed on simple details

Did you know? The first F1-style game was Atari’s 1974 arcade racer Gran Trak 10. It featured a steering wheel, four-position gear stick, accelerator and brake pedals – the first time such peripherals were used.

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