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F1 2010 delivers speed in a way I've not seen before. It turned my motoring journalistic head from Touring and Rally coverage to the fever pitch speed and delights of Formula One.
Ah, the worldwide Circus that is Formula 1, every other week millions of pounds of motor racing tech and drivers land at the (allegedly) the World's biggest and best racetracks for 3 days of non-stop race action, beloved by thousands of fans.
Not for me though.
As a motoring journo, I find the whole thing a bit too far removed from real Motorsport. Don't get me wrong, I like a Ferrari as much as the next petrol-head, but I'm more excited by Motorsport with normal cars - like the ones I drive and write about every day.
I've always leaned toward more accessible forms of Motorsport. As a kid, I'd been a keen F1 fan, Sunday lunch and the Grand Prix went hand in hand. But then, for some reason I lost interest and never really got back into the Championship. So I wasn't that excited about F1 2010 on PlayStation 3.
But I'm impressed. Although I was gutted that there's no trace of Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain', right from the start the game is impressive.
The presentation is first rate and the game uses some nice little tricks to personalise it. You start off being offered a choice of team (one of the back markers, you're not jumping straight into a Ferrari or a McLaren!) and then you're interviewed by the media - your answers here set the difficulty. And with that, you're off to race one.
Instead of menus, you interact with various team members, such as your agent, who keeps you up to date on your career progress, or your engineer who tells you where you need to qualify, and where you're expected to finish come race day. It's much more fun than clicking through screens, and really makes you feel like you're part of a team.
Race weekends are split into three sections, just like the real thing, but unlike the real thing you can skip practice and qualifying if you chose.
Having driven on a track at speeds close to these here, I can tell you it really replicates that rush of speed a seriously quick car gives.
Out on track the game really comes into its own. The cars and circuits are a good representation of the real thing. But more than this, the game's trump card is its sense of speed. Having driven on a track at speeds close to these here, I can tell you it really replicates that rush of speed a seriously quick car gives.
But that speed comes with a price. Like any powerful rear wheel drive car, the cars in F1 2010 are easy to spin. The on-screen racing line is a welcome addition, allowing you to decide how late you can brake into that hairpin bend rushing towards you, every second of the racing demands your attention.
Stewards are watching if you pile into the back of Michael Schumacher and you'll get a warning. Or if you cut a corner you'll get a time penalty. In one race I saw my eighth place finish turn into an 18th place after two, 10 second penalties. Your opponents are pretty tough too-they'll do whatever they can to make sure they finish ahead of you.
F1 2010 draws you in brilliantly, hardcore Formula One fans will enjoy the attention to detail - tyre and fuel choices really affect both handling and race outcome. I've played a lot of racing games and I've never felt such a sense of achievement from finishing 14th. The difficulty is expertly levelled, with gradual requirements for improvement coming from your team management and your agent. I can't wait to get a deal with a big team.
F1 2010 draws you in brilliantly, hardcore Formula One fans will enjoy the attention to detail
Although the game lacks a split-screen 2 player mode, I spent a great evening with a mate, enjoying a few beers and seeing who could qualify fastest and swapping drivers during pit-stops. It was fun although it would have been nice to team up with a mate and race through a whole season together.
And unlike F1 2009 on Wii, there's no single-console multiplayer, which is disappointing. Even in these days of online gaming, you still can't beat the feeling of getting a bunch of mates crowded round one machine and it feels like a glaring omission from a racing game.
There's also a lack of more in-depth customisation. It would have been great to have been able to create an F1 team from scratch and design your own livery, race suits and helmets. The option to manage your own team would have pushed this game to pole position. Maybe something we'll see in F1 2011.
F1 2010 isn't perfect but it is a fine effort and succeeds in so many ways. Even though it took me out of the comfort zone - the cars I write about and know intimately as a motoring journo - the strong career mode held my interest and provoked a real desire to progress.
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