Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


F1 2010 (Playstation 3)}

Codemasters brings the excitement of the world-racing circuit home to consoles with F1 2010. F1 takes players behind the scenes and lets you experience what its like inside the paddock. This is the game's main hub where you meet your agent, talk to reporters and manage your sponsors. This hub occupies you between races, but the excitement begins once you're on the track when F1 2010 recreates challenge of Formula One racing brilliantly. Its vivid weather effects and outstanding physics models provide a game that's authentic and challenging. Extended career and online modes, plus extensive vehicle customization give you plenty of options. This makes for an outstanding simulation of the sport that rewards the time you'll need to put into it.

Formula One racing seems to have gone on the back burner the past few years, but consistently excellent developers Codemasters has come to the rescue of forlorn racing fans with the release of another superlative racing simulation title, F1 2010 on the PS3. Staying close to the successful approach the developer successfully implemented in recent titles like Grid and Dirt, the game aims to take players beyond the track in a number of key ways. The first thing you'll notice is the extensive 3D simulation that takes you behind the scenes into the racing Paddock. For those unfamiliar with F1 racing, the paddock is the racer's home base, or trailer where they have access to all the racing information on their career. This acts as a hub for the entire game and navigating it is surprisingly simple. You merely have to move the d-pad to select which mode you want to play in. The paddock is also where the game's RPG type elements come into play. Here, you can take questions from reporters and your answers can either help or hurt your standings with sponsors and fans. It's a kind of rudimentary mode but its an interesting addition to the career mode. As you'd expect, several modes of play are available in the game, most of which are the standard types most racers offer. You can choose to play a quick race on any of the tracks using your favorite driver in the Grand Prix mode, practice your lap speed in the Time Trial mode or challenge other gamers online in multiplayer mode.

In addition to solo racing, there are several multiplayer modes available in F1 2010 which include single-races, one-on-one sprints and other modes. How good your online experience is depends on large part on your opponents, which can range from impressive to sloppy. The online interface was easy to navigate and we were able to connect, configure and play online effortlessly over several days with almost no noticeable glitches and little evident lag. These modes act as practice sessions for the main event where you can compete in a real race that's almost as intense as driving through a season yourself. For those who want the most robust experience, F1 2010 offers players the choice of entering a full career. You can change the length of the career, number of laps and other variables before you begin and then embark on a full season of races.

The game offers an extensive set of options and adjustments players can make, which makes this Formula One title feel more authentic and realistic than you'd expect. This is no mindless arcade racer and requires plenty of skill and persistence to drive successfully. Before each season, you are assigned to a specific racing team and your team also has a rival, who will compete with you while sharing your resources. Before each race begins, you can see a number of key statistics such as number of laps, racing conditions, and what adjustments have been made to your car. These include the type of tire you'll use, which you can change from grip to speed, the angle of your car's tail and front fins, which affects downdraft and turning speed, and what type of engine you'll use. Selecting your vehicle configuration is important in some stages since you are limited to how many tires, engines and other props you can use during a race or season. You can change these and other options before you hit the racetrack. Once you're on the track, there's more to it than just steering and hitting the accelerator.

You can get away with the basics on practice laps and shorter races, but the longer and more realistic racing sessions require more patience. During the longer races, you'll have to pay close attention to other factors besides the road and the other drivers. The car's engine heats and cools depending on the action and you'll have to keep it at the right temperature for optimal performance. Your tires and engine also wear out after awhile so you'll definitely need to use your pit-stops wisely. This seems like a lot to keep track of, but the game's smartly designed interface allows you to keep track of these factors at a glance, so it doesn't really impede the racing mechanics. When you're behind the wheel, F1 2010 gives you a few aids initially with speed and braking the main assists offered. You can also use the trackside indicator to show you the best path for each race. However, using these assists drags on your overall performance and you have to learn the basics and then unleash your vehicle's full potential before you can hope to compete for a top position.

In addition to these factors, you'll have to race with great precision, since F1 2010 gives you very little leeway for error. Even going slightly off the tracks on turns will penalize you greatly. You also get punished for even the smallest collisions with other vehicles. This can be frustrating early on but you'll get better at it with practice. Learning the layout of each course is essential, as is being able to concentrate. You do have some assists that you can use, along with the communications in audio form from your driver assistant. Most of the time, you'll need to be patient and not try to become overly aggressive on the track. Learning to use the slower turning sections to your advantage is critical since these are the only areas where you have a realistic chance of overtaking your opponent. The opponent AI is very smart throughout each race showing plenty of aggression. The competing CPU drivers won't hesitate to take advantage of any mistakes you make. The biggest help you get are the rewinds which can help you get a second chance at certain points. However, your use of these is limited to only a few times per course at even the basic levels, so you can't rely on them to win races consistently. Your skills are rewarded at the end of each successful race with additional money that you can use to add extra items and upgrades to your vehicle. F1 2010's racing modes make you earn each reward, and there aren't that many short-cuts. For players used to the more modest expectations of regular racers, F1's difficulty level is steeper than you'd expect. The racing is intense and challenges you to think strategically about pit stops and wear on your vehicle. This approach encourages a more conservative and defensive style of driving. You want to avoid damage at all costs since replacement parts are limited. The strict use of penalties also means your driving needs to be flawless virtually all the time. Its challenging and F1 2010's gameplay definitely leans towards the simulation aspect of racing titles, but success is more satisfying because of its technical approach.

Codemasters' last few next-gen racing titles were full of eye-candy, specifically with the in-game mneus and F1 2010, while not as revolutionary, continues the trend. The rendering of the Paddock is excellent and brings you into the space effectively, with a dynamic interface that's easy to navigate and use. Once you're in the garage, you can look around in 3D as well and take a look at your team in real-time, which is especially slick for the gamers out there. The special effects here are impressive but, the really impressive thing about F1 comes when you get on the track. Each of the real-world courses are rendered with an impressive attention to detail, with their tracks and configurations faithfully reproduced. The vehicles themselves look fantastic with excellent bodywork evident in long-shots while the cockpit views look near-photo realistic. F1 2010's graphics engine is excellent and the game moves along at a steady, smooth rate throughout with very few glitches making for a smooth, consistent experience that really shines in HD. You'll also encounter impressive rain and other weather effects that are more than cosmetic, with extra caution needed to traverse wet surfaces. Excellent sound effects brilliantly recreate the feel of F1 racing with the engines' collective roar adding intensity to the race. All of this creates a smooth, highly polished racing package that brings the excitement and ferocity of F1 to life in an effective and viscerally thrilling game.

The high-quality visuals, smooth frame rate and superb production values definitely take advantage of the PS3's graphical horsepower. Once on the track, F1 2010's intense and demanding gameplay, smooth racing mechanics and impressive sense of realism and authenticity makes this a solid all-around racer. The use of licenses is effective but they aren't over-used which makes things feel authentic but doesn't make you feel like you're playing a billboard. F1 2010 innovative paddock hub system helps to bring you into the behind the scenes drama of real professional racing, but players can also choose to diminish its importance and concentrate on the racing itself. This makes F1 2010 an excellent overall racing title that brings realism, excitement and challenging driving to the fore. While its level of difficulty might be a barrier to the more casual/arcade end of the market, this is an outstanding technical achievement. F1 2010 delivers a slick simulation of the sport that makes for an exceptional simulation of the sport.

- Michael Palisano 

Grade: B+

Related Reviews 

Split Second (PS3)
Blur (PS3)