If you’re a fan of racing games, they you probably start frothing at the mouth anytime Codemasters announce a new gaming game. Though the frothing may have been dampened some what after the last Colin McRae and Grid offered a more arcade style racing game, and even more so when Grid came without any V8 Supercars. True to form however, both games still amounted to an awfully good amount of fun, especially online. But Codemasters crown in the racing simulation arena has slipped somewhat, and it would be forgivable for fans to assume that Codemsters were about to give the same treatment to Formula One. Fortunately Codemasters have returned to their roots with F1, a fact that will become crystal clear on your first run, where you will probably spend more time in the gravel than on the track. What Codemasters have done, is taken their own EGO Game Engine and tweaked it so that it recreates the unique handling characteristics of Formula One cars. BUt more than that, to make the whole affair ‘real,’ the game includes all of the official teams, drivers and circuits of the 2010 season, including the new Korean International Circuit.
The game presentation and navigation will be familiar to anyone who has played either Grid or Dirt – you live in a trailer and have a few basic choices – the most immersive one being the career where you will try and rise in the Formula One rankings from an unknown new driver, to the top of the championship. Be warned however as this could take you a fair number of seasons to achieve, and with each race involving up to 3 practice runs, qualifying and the main race that is at the minimum, 10 laps long, F1 2010 is by no means a quick finish game. Being based around the EGO Game Engine, fans will already know how sweat the graphics are going to look, but even with high expectations, you’ll still be blown away – especially the first time you get to race in the rain. Even more so if you like to drive with the cockpit view. The weather effects are visually amazing, making you feel a sense of awe not only for the graphical capability, but also at the driving ability of real F1 drivers. But it’s more than just gorgeous visuals, the dynamic weather in F1 2010 affect the way your car handles. Try driving the same track the same way in the wet as you did on a sunny day and you won;r make it round any of the corners. Breaking, turning, everything about the race will be different. You’ll even notice the difference between qualifying on a dry but overcast day and racing on a hot sunny day. Being more of a simulator however will demand patience and long term commitment. You might be able to turn the damage off, but you won’t win races by crashing into your competitors of by cutting corners to get a better time. Realistic penalties are in place and whilst they can be turned down, they can’t be turned off. It really is the realm of the committed careful racer. That’s not to say that you can’t pull of some amazing moves – you’ll just going to have to be careful because one mistake could cost you a ten second penalty, which in the fast and furious life of F1 can put you right back to 24th place. Don’t be fooled however by my use of the word careful – this is no sedate Sunday drive, this is red-blooded Formula One where you take control of one of the most finely tuned, yet death defilingly fragile racing machines with 600bhp to fly by the seat of your pants. No other racing game quite has the sensation of speed as Formula One does. Put simply, F1 2010 is the most demanding, but rewarding racing game you will see this year, and quite possibly the next.