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Old 01-18-2011, 03:29 AM   #42
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F1 2010 – Xbox 360
Also available on Playstation 3

Back in 1996 as a proud Saturn owner and a big F1 fan it wasn’t Tomb Raider 2 or Resident Evil 2 that made me jealous of PS owners. I could get those on PC. It was F1 in all it's licensed beauty. It wasn't until F1 World Grand Prix on my N64 that I got my first sample of F1 gaming on console and it was everything the years of waiting could want. I didn't get another F1 game until EA sports F1 2002 on the Xbox and after this F1 fell into the wilderness with the exception of the dreadful PS3 launch title! Why was this? Well F1 is limited, you can only ever have a maximum of 24 cars and drivers and 19 tracks. The cars may be beautiful but you can't see them while you race and the tracks are on the whole sparse. The Forza's and Gran Turismo's of this world are the more complete package. It has meant we have waited 5 years for a truly next gem F1 game... And in my opinion it was worth the wait!

The creators of F1 2010 have put a lot of man hours into creating the cars and tracks in painstaking detail and recreating the simulation experience to the max whilst also making the game accessible to casual gamers. On easy mode with all assists on (except for auto break which is a hindrance) anyone can play and enjoy this game. On expert the first time I played the game I was racing in the rain and could barely get of the start line due to wheel spin and promptly spun into the first corner. Similarly the level of customisation to your car is extensive and F1 buffs can tweak their setups heavily or for people like me there are 7 preset setups to choose from if you want to have a say but not go too deep into the cars setup.

Visually the game is a masterpiece, the rain as it develops on the track mid race is particularly special and every track has been recreated to the highest detail. All the pit crews, trailers and menus have been crafted to make this the optimum F1 experience. Of course this would mean nothing if the game didn't play like a dream. Thankfully the game gets it right. F1 is about learning the tracks and practice makes perfect. The career mode lasts 7 years and yyou can partake in a long race weekend which is 3 practice sessions, a long qualifying and a half or full distance race or you can do a short race weekend which just has one practice, a short qualifying and a 20% distance race. Of course you can vary this by skipping practice and qualifying sessions but it is worth taking the time to practice to learn where your breaking points are. If you do a full distance race on expert settings the game is hyper realistic. In real F1 you cannot go full throttle the whole race as the cars are filled with less than enough fuel to complete the race, this is the same in F1 2010, hammer if or the whole race and you won't finish. Your pit crew will tell you when to ease off to preserve fuel. Slightly damage a wing and they will tell you to change your wing angle manually. There is a lot of attention to detail here. Sadly very few will play full races on expert meaning these subtleties could be missed. The other thing is the level of intensity Codemasters create in the gameplay. If you need a fast lap the playability is so perfect you can really take risks into corners, hit the curbs to shave vital milliseconds off your time and feel the car twitch like you may lose the backend. The cars also feel dramatically different depending on what setup you have. Put the grippy option tyres with a medium setup an you will feel like you cant spin the car but will be considerably slower on straights. Configure the car for maximum downforce and you will bullet along but really have to wrestle the car around corners. Each track it is about getting the blend just right. With this level of detail in mind it is baffling to me that so many potential gloss factors are missing! For example, at the end of a race if you finish in the top 3 you will have to carry out a press conference, I never felt that what I said in these or any of the interviews made the slightest bit of difference. Not only this but strangely they have not included a podium when you finish in the top 3. This seems bizarre as this is one of the trademarks of F1. This could be made really fun in future instalments if they included Kinect support for this sequence. It's just a thought. Similarly as I finish my last lap and take the chequered flag wouldn't it be great if you could actually see a man waving a flag and your pit crew celebrating madly. It's a minor touch that would really add polish and finish to the game.

Another gripe I have is with your pit crew’s communication. They encourage you when you are behind someone but they rarely let you know how far the guy behind you is. Instead you can see it in the top left of the screen for a split second at each sector in a lap. This takes something out of the game, sometimes when your pit crew are telling you to pit in it would be great to see how far behind you certain cars were so that you could consider staying out and etching out that extra second for track position after the stop. Other minor gripes are the fact that although this game by definition is limited it doesn’t use the license the way games like NBA 2K11 and even to an extent FIFA do. I think Codemasters missed an opportunity to use the licence. Updating loading screens with stats and showing the latest fixtures and news would have been awesome to make the sport more accessible to newcomers and what about a few classic cars. Senna's McLaren or Schumacher’s Ferrari or a scenario mode with some of the big moments through yesteryear in F1 or a few classic tracks that don't appear in the 2010 calendar? Or even a post race highlight reel...

I feel I am being over critical here and taking away from what a great racing game this is. Put simply it is a must have for F1 fans but there is plenty of room for work in future iterations. Codemasters have the core game here almost perfect and that alone makes this game worth the price tag. But there is certainly room for growth here in the next iteration. Recreating the glitz and glamour of F1 was never going to be a simple task but Codemasters have done a great job with the racing. I hope they listen to their fans for the 2011 edition. However as an F1 fan I am happy to say Codemasters have done a great job bringing the game to next gen consoles. Sure I can add features but I cannot fault the fun or gameplay and that's what you enjoy about games. Cannot wait to see the 2011 edition.

Pros - Superb graphics. Faultless playability. Races are exciting!
Cons - Elements missing from career mode like the podium seem a strange design choice. Interface is a little dull. Pit crew communication and game HUD needs work.

Overall - 88%
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