F1 2010 Review - A Retrospective Look At Codemasters Hidden Gem

F1 2010 Review - A Retrospective Look At Codemasters Hidden Gem
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F1 2010 Review for Xbox 360

Although video game reviews will indelibly be made public just before or on the release date of a title, it is often better to view a game some months after its initial release, giving a retrospective review and deeper analysis. With the game now sinking into the collective gaming consciousness – being swallowed by the tumult of games during the end of 2010 – it’s worth a look back at one of last years stand-out racing game titles. In the style/format of previous reviews – see Machinarium, Sleep is Death or Axel & Pixel – it is time to look at the Codemasters Formula One based game. Read on for the full F1 2010 review.

F1 2010 Review for Xbox 360 - Setting (4 out of 5)

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The onus on sports games to replicate and mimic their real-life counterparts is a necessity. Developers delving into a sport – both THQ and EA released MMA games over the last two years as an example– need to research and create an appropriate facsimile of the sport they’ve decided to work on. F1 2010 gave Codemasters this same necessity and then some. Not only is F1 2010 the first “true” F1 game since the 2006 multi-platform seasonal update, but it also utilises an upgraded engine to both DIRT 2 and Race Driver: GRID.

Getting the sense of place and the “feel” (however abstract that may be) of the tracks, locales and paddock are all essential to the Formula One game experience. This is accomplished very well and with a stunning depth to each of the nineteen tracks. As you drive through the Grands Prix, its evident that time was spent sculpting out all the small details of each track, furthering the immersive experience. On top of this, the use of licensed drivers and some keen interaction with your assigned race Engineer, F1 2010 almost makes you accept its default first person perspective, such is the fidelity and overall replication of the sport itself.

F1 2010 Review - Aesthetics (4 out of 5)

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Graphically, F1 2010 caters to fans of Codemasters previous race titles, with a slightly tweaked and evolutionary EGO engine running the game. It improves upon its predecessors with some texture improvements among other system changes. F1 2010 creates a realistic sense of place. The EGO engine does well to showcase each and every car, while the liveries & driver likeness’ further the real-life approximation. Unfortunately, some graphical issues exist whereby random freezes or game crashes can happen. This has been patched on consoles & PC; but graphical glitches still exist even to this day, with audio & memory problems on Vista being the main point of contention.

The in-game menus take their cue from DIRT 2, with a first-person navigation used to move between the different items. Players can choose to enter a multiplayer session, or run a single grand prix, while standing outside their trailer surrounded by media & grid girls. Going inside the trailer, the player is presented with helmet selection, the career mode, a standings table and your personal assistant who keeps tabs on contract negotiations etcetera. It’s hardly the biggest detail to tout, but it enhances the experience, giving you an idea of what happens between races. This added verisimilitude puts you further into the experience, in a subtle yet rewarding way, especially as it is seen through a first person perspective.

Gameplay of F1 2010 on Xbox 360 (4 out of 5)


The meat of any sports game is that of its gameplay. Whereas first person shooters may focus on only a modicum of derivative mechanics to produce a decent experience, Codemasters were tasked with encapsulating an entire sport inside a virtual playground. They’ve clearly accomplished this facsimile well. F1 2010 is totally transfixed with the idea of adhering to its chosen sport that some of the mechanics can become obtrusive – such as the unyielding penalties or invalidated lap message!

Recurring features of the racing game genre are clear in F1 2010‘s mechanical framework and execution. Players press the right trigger to accelerate while braking is handled by the opposite trigger. The adherence to these tropes gives it a sturdy feel and allows newcomers to feel at ease with the setup, even if the actual racing takes some time to get used to. Pits, while done automatically at least, are easy to navigate as are the D-Pad mapped on-the-fly car changes you can make during races.

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As far as the actual racing goes, F1 2010 on Xbox 360 does a good job of creating a difficult yet rewarding experience. Giving players the option for arrows to guide you around corners initially puts the metaphorical training wheels onto your bike. After some time though, the necessity to use this function will diminish and the training wheels will inevitably come off, giving the challenge that much more emphasis. The gratifying feeling of beating a friend in time-trial mode or winning an online race in the rain are some of F1 2010‘s defining moments.

Unfortunately, the game does suffer from technical hiccups that deter from the action just a tad. Similar games like Fallout: New Vegas or Alpha Protocol weren’t truly held up by this state of glitching or buggy gameplay and F1 2010 is no different. Although problems with save files, frame-rate stuttering and some random online crashes are present, they probably won’t deter any avid Formula One fan from soldiering on – saying this, if the game froze during a full length race around lap 50 or so, there might be a problem.

Overall Rating for F1 2010 on Xbox 360 (4 out of 5)

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F1 2010 on Xbox 360 is a great simulation of the real motor sport. Not only does it provide a stunning scale, sense of place and fidelity, but its easy to pick up yet hard to master style is endearing and offers a great longevity. Although the online community isn’t as vibrant as GRID or DIRT 2 it still holds a considerable leaderboard structure and support for some overly aggressive AI during online matches to even things out. F1 2010 brings back a high octane racing experience which requires skill, precision and often stratagem. The hole left after a lack of true F1 experiences on Xbox 360 or even PS3 (F1 2006 notwithstanding) may have just been filled.