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For over sixty years, Formula One has thrilled audiences with a motor sport that was designed and specifically created to push the boundaries of automobile technology and driver skill.

There is more to Formula One racing than just a few cars going around a track though, if the opposite were true then no one would still be watching. What makes Formula One so special is its drivers. For years now, audiences have been sucked into the soap opera dramas that revolve around an ever changing group of young, rich, hot-headed drivers that lead the dream lifestyles that most men could only dream of.

Just one look at victorious faceless driver on the cover of Codemasters’ F1 2010 and it already becomes evident that there is more to this game than just cars and tracks. Codemaster’s set out to create more than just an F1 racing title for people to play, they wanted to create a game that also lets you experience the life of a Formula One driver complete with its ups and downs/

The racing genre veterans over at Codemasters have finally secured the official FIA F1 2010 license, and we find out if their first stab at the historic motorsport is everything that they promised it would be.

Your License To Be An A-Grade Ass (With Money)

Codemasters, famous for adding tons of flavor to their racing titles, have decided that the F1 license should get the exact same treatment. For years, every real F1 sim aficionado knew that if you wanted a real Formula One sim, you played the Geoff Crammond series and some of the later EA versions at the beginning of the decade weren’t too bad either. The problem was and still is that many sim games felt lifeless and besides their crazy attention to detail, lacked any sort of style or excitement.

While F1 2010 allows players to jump straight into some time trials, Grand Prix or even multiplayer races the real meat of the game revolves around its career mode. Rather than jump into the shoes of an existing GP driver, you create your own driver and delve into a choice of either 3, 5 or 7 seasons starting at the bottom with the hopes of one day becoming the cream of the crop.

In a similar style to other Codemasters’ games like Dirt 2, your career and game is managed from your driver trailer and is navigated by looking and moving around to select what you want to do. From this area you are able to check driver standings, view contracts, change options and initiate the next race weekend.

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Starting as a rookie, you begin your career with a low paying contract for one of the smaller F1 teams such as Torro Rosso, HRT, Lotus etc. As a less prominent team in the championship, you are given realistic goals of placing above for example, 15th place in race rather than be expected to win. Your real task is to keep up with or outperform your teammate and prove to your team that you are the one that should be getting all the tender love and care where resources are concerned.

On top of racing, being in the public eye also means that you often have to deal with the press and this is reflected in the game by interviews that take place after races. When in an interview, you will be asked questions and be required to select from a choice of responses. Bad mouth your team mate and he will start acting more aggressive towards you on the track, praise your team for a good effort and they will do their best to make your life a lot easier.

While I certainly appreciate what Codemasters are trying to do, the interviews come across as very recycled, and you will find yourself being asked the same questions many times over during a season. Along with that, they don’t really feel like they make as much of an impact as they should, and your choice of words don’t feel like they carry the weight of any major consequences.

One other major niggle I had is that for a game that places you in the shoes of an F1 driver, you are never treated to any scenes of your driver getting out of the car after a good race (like the image on the cover), or even the all important podium where trophies are awarded. Even though all of the other drivers have been modeled to look like their real life counterparts, you only catch a quick glimpse of them in the conference room from a first person perspective when you arrive after a race.

What Do All These Dials Do?

Upon selecting to enter the next race, you are given a plethora of options to customise the game play to your liking, and F1 2010 has something for everyone. There are enough options built into F1 2010 to allow the most casual of F1 fans to enjoy a slice of their favorite sport but at the same time, crank all of the assists down, and the realism settings up and you suddenly have a very hardcore simulator on your hands.

Settings range from driver assists like traction control, ABS, break assist, dynamic racing lines and gearbox settings to realism options such as tyre wear, race fuel and AI difficulty. Also returning in true Codemasters form are the limited flashbacks which allow the driver to rewind a small portion of the game to rectify a mistake or crash that occurred.

You are also given settings for the specific race weekend and can select from options of a short or long race weekend. Opt for short and you will take part in one practice session, one qualifying session and the race. Go for long and you get the full deal of multiple practice and qualifying sessions to get through before the race. The races are set to a minimum of 20% of the real life race distance (usually around 10 – 15 laps) but can go all the way if wanted.

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Once you begin your first race weekend, the menu interface shifts from the trailer over to your drivers view while sitting in his car in the pit garage. From here you are able to manage your car, strategies and set-ups as well as get information such as weather predictions, lap times and so on.

Settings can be a little vague for the most part and this issue applies to both casuals and sim fans alike. The engineer can help you out with a quick setup, but you are only given a few options that range on a scale from wet setups to adaptable and dry. While the wet setups involve more downforce and the dry involves less, it never really makes it clear if the car has already been automatically setup for the specific track or if you need to choose a “wet” setup to get better performance out of a short tight track like Monte Carlo for example.

On the flip side, you also have the ability to fully set your car up yourself and even though the options are all there, the interface feels a little too basic and anyone who ever spent hours setting cars up in Crammond’s GP4 will feel out of place.

What I did really like is that the game makes a point of keeping you in the driver experience, as well as taking practicality into account. From your position in the car, you can then select to head out for your first session, and instead of being treated to loading screens and all, your pit crew starts prepping your car and you drive straight out of the garage and onto the circuit. When you return to the pits, the pit crew will come out to your car, and push it back into the garage and on the whole it does wonders to the immersive feeling of the game.

At the same time, if you are short on time or trying to work on a setup, you can also chose to skip straight to a sector on the track or for qualifying, skip directly to the start of a flying lap rather than have to make your way around the track.

Challenges are also offered in the form of research and development, requiring the driver to use some of his practice time to beat certain lap times to allow the team to get the data required to create upgrades for your car over the season.

Last Updated: September 27, 2010

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F1 2010
Summary
9.0

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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