E3 2010: Hands-on with F1 2010

In recent years, most Formula 1 games have been Sony-published affairs, and while many were worthwhile racers, it was difficult to find exciting off-the-track features, or significant year-over-year improvements. Following last year's release of F1 2009 on Wii and PSP, Codemasters is set to redefine the Formula 1 experience with F1 2010 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, offering a racing package that comprises everything a famous F1 driver encounters in his career.

Above: Imagine Grid but with one million more horsepower

Well, maybe not everything -- you probably won't be able to date Nicole Scherzinger, like hotshot driver Lewis Hamilton (if you even wanted to) -- but F1 2010 promises a significant beyond-the-race element, with the ability to battle against your own teammates for supremacy and choice parts, as well as spread messages through the ever-present media scrum, which can even affect the status of your contract at the end of a season. Each career in F1 2010 can last three, five, or seven years, and earn team -- large or small -- has specific goals for you to attain, depending on their status in the league.

As detailed in our hands-on from March, F1 2010 more importantly nails the on-track sensation of driving a super-powered car around a winding track, with precise controls, intelligent A.I. competitors, and some seriously stellar visuals.

Codemasters' E3 demo focused in large part on the impressive weather effects, which blanket different parts of the track with distinct levels of rainfall, and result in an impressive trailing effect as water gets pulled off the track by the incredible rotations of your tires. Moreover, your tires show physical wear over the course of the race, picking up sand and grass as you inevitably skid out during turns. Considering F1 2010 uses the same engine and DIRT 2 and the publisher's other recent racing hits, it shouldn't be surprising that the game looks quite sharp.

Above: Race postponed because of raining garbage on track

Additionally, the team is trying to infuse the opponent A.I. with mannerisms gleaned by watching real-life gamers face off. Other racers will aggressively close off gaps as you try to pass, or break your drafting path if you're tailing closely behind. What it should add up to is a better single-player racing experience across the board, including in the Grand Prix mode, which features every licensed driver and car in the 2011 Formula One season. But should you still want real competition, F1 2010 also has 12-player online races available, with A.I. racers filling out any empty gaps.

According to Codemasters, Formula One is in the midst of a youth movement, and is attempting to contemporize the long-running league for greater reach, and it sounds like the publisher is hoping to execute similar plans for its first Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC entry when it launches this September.

Jun 17, 2010

Andrew Hayward
Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at http://andrewhayward.org.