Formula One racing might not be the same scintillating sensation in the United States that it is in Europe, but that's not going to stop Codemasters from bring F1 2010 to America this September. This title might not initially appeal to U.S. racing game fans, but F1 2010 might be the first F1 game that American gamers will want to pick up. The developers behind F1 2010 have had approachability in mind during the entire development cycle, though there's certainly plenty of room for the deeply technical racing that hardcore F1 fans will be frothing at the mouth for.
Last week, I had the pleasure of playing an early build of F1 2010 and seeing how a non-F1 fan like me can handle the game. Surprisingly, I was able to avoid totally destroying my car, which I consider a serious victory. But there's a lot more going on in F1 2010 besides this needed accessibility. With some incredible tech, a full career mode and online multiplayer, F1 2010 might be the game that opens up the Formula One world to nervous and intimidated gamers in the United States (see: Ryan Clements).
First, a brief history lesson: Codemasters acquired the Formula One license in May of 2008, which means that the team has been working on F1 2010 for about two and a half years. This long development time really shows, as F1 2010 looks and runs beautifully, even in its early stages. I quickly noticed the fluidity of the driver turning the highly detailed wheel, and the look of the tires as they scream across rain-spattered tracks. I was told that the development team went to great lengths to create an authentic F1 experience. This includes 19 official circuits, 12 teams, pit stops, real cars and drivers -- the team even motion captured actual pit crews to make the whole thing come alive.
The other thing that the developers want to stress is that F1 2010 is more than just racing -- it's about living the life of the driver. Although you can play as real F1 drivers in Grand Prix and other modes, it seems like the meat of the game will be in career mode, where players play as themselves in the world of Formula One. This means that you'll join a team, participate in interviews (your answers influence the game), race against your teammate and live the surprisingly glamorous life that is F1 racing.
This interface is already looking spectacular, as the main menu is set up next to your trailer where press might be waiting and models are posing for cameras. Your agent sits in your trailer and acts as a portal to various sections of the game, and from this headquarters menu players can jump into a ton of different races.
One of the first things that players will notice when booting up F1 2010 is an important question the game poses: what sort of experience do you want? There are five different levels that players can select which dictate just how much hand-holding will be implemented to give Formula One newcomers a chance to get oriented. This is a really fantastic idea, as it gives players like me an easy entryway into the experience without worrying about the extremely technical stuff in tweaking your vehicle of choice.
But of course, menus aren't nearly as exciting as actual races (Right?). As nervous as I was to race in front of the representatives from Codemasters, I was amazed at how quickly I was able to get into the actual gameplay mechanics. Sure, playing F1 2010 is difficult and requires a fair amount of skill, but it wasn't unintelligible. Everything felt natural. This is probably thanks to the advising that former F1 driver Anthony Davidson has provided. Apparently Davidson is in the developers' offices every other week commenting on game controls. F1 2010 is a precise, tight game where carefully handling, acceleration and speed is absolutely critical (lest you want to explode).
The AI in F1 2010 will also be realistic, as the developers are doing their best to make the opposing racers behave like actual F1 drivers. After all, each F1 driver drives differently, so having the AI vary from car to car makes total sense.
This realism and attention to detail even extends into the weather, with wet roads having a drastically different feeling than dry roads. The developers have even considered loose pebbles that might be strewn on the track in certain courses. The amount of real-world information contained in F1 2010 is mind-blowing, which leads me to believe that this will be very well-received among Formula One fans.
F1 2010 will be landing on the PS3, 360 and PC this September. Players can look forward to a legitimate F1 experience with a robust career mode, time trails and even the ability to download fellow players' ghost runs. Be on the lookout for our continued coverage of F1 2010 in the future.
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