How Codemasters has given F1 a kick up the gearbox

The demo had several options for weather. There was everything you'd want, from sunny and overcastthrough to damp, light rain and heavy rain. Jason!

There was also a 'dynamic' setting, which didn't yield any noticeable change during my time with the demo. But the way the background's colours seamlessly bled from one setting to the next as I flicked through the options is obviously going to be used in real-time weather effects.

Above: You can tell it uses the GRID engine, can't you?

Damage modelling is in

F1 games have always striven to provide realistic damage modelling. But while F1 Championship Edition had everything in the right place, F1 2010 provides a more impressionistic versionof racing impacts.

The flicker of splintered wing spinning through the air is spot-on and the track soon becomes littered with debris - which you can feel with a clunk of force feedback as you drive over it.

Pit crews live in the pits

It's an odd thing to say, but they really do. Every team's garage features mo-capped mechanics who never disappear. Driving into the garage, you see them all scramble out to their positions to meet your unexpected arrival and the other teams' personnel are all standing around in their garages. Also, while driving out of the pit-lane, you can see crowds of 3D people behind the glass of the spectator's stand. If this level of humanisationis all over the game, we should be in for on of the most atmospheric racers ever.

Online fun awaits

While the demo pods weren't linked up, I did learn that there will be half-grid online racing (13 players) when the game launches. They're also leaving a 14th spot open in case another team joins the series in the next three months (which is a possibility).

The game isn't too heavily based on simulation or arcade handling - it just feels like I'd want my F1 game to feel. It's not out until September and this is a very early build, but I'm going to stick my neck out and say that it's going to do for F1 what Dirt 2 did for off-roaders. With the same engine at its heart and attention to detail like this, there's no reason why it shouldn't.

18 Mar, 2010