F1 2010: A brief review

I’ve spent the vast majority of the day playing on F1 2010, a game I was very eagerly anticipating from the moment it was announced that Codemasters had bought the Formula 1 license. I didn’t plan to, I was hoping to split my time between that and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, but it turns out F1 2010’s career mode has a bit of an addictive quality to it. I’m thinking about now, contemplating my qualifying session in the pouring rain at Spa, worried about the complete lack of visibility I’ll have while I’m driving 200mph downhill. Basically, it’s very good.

It’s not without it’s problems, though, and they’re often really frustrating. The framerate is appalling at times, something I’ve always found hard to accept on a console game on familiar hardware. Thankfully, barring one particular corner in Monaco, the jumpiness tends to rear it’s ugly head on the start-finish straight, where it impacts on the game the least. It’s still a huge distraction, though, and somewhat surprising for a game built on the EGO engine, used to brilliant effect in most recent Codemasters efforts.

The fact that Codemasters really stressed the importance of a realistic F1 experience makes the lack of solid statistical information mystifying at times; I’m not all that familiar with a great deal of the tracks that make up the F1 season, so when I turn up in Valencia, before the practice session begins, it would be nice to be able to at least view a brief overview of the track, like a small map so I have a rough idea of how much downforce I might need – a good friend of mine is a huge F1 fan and he complained of exactly the same thing, so it’s not just my lack of interest in F1 in recent seasons. Maybe it’s my lack of understanding, but it also seems that when you’ve completed a lap, the standings don’t always seem complete, and the colour-coding that’s supposed to be helpful doesn’t seem to work at all.

There are other minor things too; post-race interviews sound like a great idea on paper, but you get the impression that they never really got time to do anything with them. I’m yet to finish my first season in career mode, but it feels like it lacks a little depth; I read somewhere that other drivers don’t move teams for one. I also get the impression it’s a little buggy at times too – it was slightly odd to see one of my rival teams expressing their disappointment in my press interview or my performance in the last race. They are minor things though, and these make me laugh more than anything else.

The AI is mostly brilliant. There’s something comforting about flying down a straight at great speed during qualifying and seeing the car in front let you by, though my expectations of racing game AI were at an all-time low after playing on Forza 3, which bravely decided that AI was an unnecessary feature and all cars would just ram you off the road. The weather effects are stunning and terrifying in equal measure, and believe me, they really are stunning. It seems to rain a little too often for my liking, but that may be just because it terrifies me when I see ‘Heavy Rain’ above the session info, especially because I spend most of the lap cooing at how good it all looks.

I planned on buying it on release originally, but when I didn’t and a few friends told me about most of the above, I figured I’d wait until the next one came out, but having had this rental copy for a few days now, I’m genuinely considering buy it. Despite it’s many faults, it’s sickeningly addictive – even for someone who hasn’t watched F1 for years – and even if the career mode lacks a lot of detail, it has enough about it to make racing round the same 19 tracks infinitely more interesting than past F1 games. More than anything else, it makes me very, very optimistic for the franchise, and the steering wheel that I may have ordered. Oops.