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Saturday, 29 May 2010

Preview- F1 2010

Released: 24th September 2010
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Codemasters Birmingham
Publisher: Codemasters

F1 titles have been few and far between in the recent past. The distinct lack of titles for one of the world's most popular motorsports is bizarrely odd considering the opportunity afforded to the license bearers. Is it just me or are the F1 games some of the best racing titles out there? I remember playing F1 2000 way back on the Playstation and being possessively mesmerised by the insane sense of speed and the thrill afforded at being behind the wheel, the hard press of the brakes bringing the blurred racetrack back into focus as I career toward the barrier. Good times... Thinking that the memory may have been somewhat rose-tinted, I recently picked up the PS3 F1 title, F1 Championship Edition, that was released back in the early days of the PS3, to re-discover what I loved about the F1 license. In admiration of the gorgeous visuals and stunning racing engine at work, there's something to be said about the ferocious speed at which these cars can travel, the tactics at work on the track, the weather changes, qualifying etc. etc. that is so intrinsic and core to F1 in particular that grabs my attention wholeheartedly in video game form. Granted, I'm not an F1 fan, but this game has me excited...

Developed by Codemasters Birmingham, in conjunction with the 'EGO Engine'- that helped create the superb Colin McRae: DiRT 2 and Race Driver: GRID, F1 2010 is likely to up-the-ante in terms of visuals and physics than previously afforded in an F1 game. The engine is beautiful, as we have already witnessed, and here brings the whole roster of 19 career tracks to stunning re-created glory, with an incredible amount of effort going into delivering an insane level of detail for the globe-trotting career mode, as well as the addition of every team and driver of the 2010 F1 championship. A full online multiplayer with a number of racing modes has also been detailed.

The career mode will allow players to work from the trenches of obscurity to associated fortune that the high life and the sponsorship affords. Whether you hop from team to team, seeking the best deal, or form a wealthy relationship with only one team, the choice is yours to make. What has me excited, however, is the way that objectives change on the fly depending on the team that you race for- Ferrari, for example, will deem a non-podium finish a disappointing finish, whereas a lesser-known team is more likely to appreciate any points on the board at all! It's an interesting addition but one which will only work if there is substantial difference in the feel of the game upon a change in allegiance. Teams are seemingly an integral part to the title as a whole, with media appearances within the game differing in accordance with the team you race for, whilst team members will consistently be tweaking and upgrading the car with new parts as the season gets under-way. The extent of customisation has not been fully revealed as yet, but expect an extremely robust system that goes hand in hand with the stat-heavy racing fans out there. Racing strategy and often superfluous looking tactics will also be intrinsic to the experience.

Another aspect of the game that is being heavily touted is the all new dynamic weather system which is quoted as being “the most complicated weather system even seen in a racing game”. No, the developers haven't stopped at delivering an extensive physics model for each weather type, but instead include the weather's effect on the state of the track. Puddles are likely to be formed in dips and falls in the track, whilst over-hanging trees are going to result in drier parts of the track. As the rain lets off, the “drying line” is also likely to affect the race, with cars dispersing the standing rainfall from the optimum racing line. Staying focused and sticking to the racing line in these instances will likely be the difference between success and failure.

I can play Forza 3 hour after hour, but nothing can truly match the adrenaline that gets pumping from the simulation of the F1 experience. I'm thoroughly looking forward to another racing title from those at Codemasters- they have a great engine in their hands and a superb license to go with it, can they deliver an F1 title to match its ambition?

1 comment:

  1. I believe that, by starting a game design from the more esoteric angle of the "feel" of a player's experience, we can achieve far more in gameplay than we could by making cool stuff happen on screen. Of course, I appreciate that we work in a competitive industry that is very much about shifting units from store shelves - and you can't always encapsulate a player experience on the back of a game box. I'm also aware that we have to always be sure to keep the player experience vague, and design from an overall "feel" perspective rather than direct the player's actions and behaviour.