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With a feverish amount of anticipation brewing, this year’s Formula 1 season looks set to be easily one of the most exciting and hard-to-call seasons of recent years, and as a result, now is probably the perfect moment to launch a new F1 videogame. Last year’s F1 2009 game (which was released on the Wii and the Playstation Portable only) was a terrific little title that won the sport more than its fair share of new fans. So all eyes are on this year’s new game to deliver more of that same brand of high-quality racing action. F1 2010 has been created by a completely new development team this time – Codemasters Birmingham – and is being released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Thanks to being made for these much more powerful machines, it’s no surprise to note that F1 2010 is a pretty amazing looking videogame – almost certainly the most luscious F1 game ever made – but the best thing about it is the way that it makes the experience accessible to anyone who tries it. Regardless of age or skill level, you can perfectly tailor the game to fit your own needs, and (brilliantly) all of the game’s content isn’t kept locked away from more inexperienced players until they progress to the harder settings – which is an unfortunate and annoying trademark of so many games of this kind.
When you first start the game, you’re greeted by a computerised version of Holly Samos, BBC Radio Five Live’s pit lane reporter, who kicks proceedings off by asking you a series of questions. These include your name, which you can select from a very long list of actual names (and amusing nicknames, if you prefer) and we’d be very surprised if your own name wasn’t available. You’ll also be asked which team you want to race for, and how difficult you want your career races to be. After that you’re introduced to a young Italian lady named Gabriella (who will be your agent and manager) and a spectacle-wearing Scotsman called Rob, who will be your racing engineer.
Both of these characters will stay with you throughout your career, and will offer up advice when you might need it, or provide facts that you can take onboard before you take part in a Grand Prix. This whole relationship system is very well done indeed, and although both characters give you some valuable information at times, the most fun way to play F1 2010 is to find your own feet, and use trial and error as much as possible. For example, some tyres work better on different surfaces than others do, and some work differently depending on which country you’re racing in (because the temperature of the track starts to come into play) and mixing and matching until you find the right set for each race is actually very entertaining.
Younger players who found F1 2009 to be just right for them in the difficulty department shouldn’t shy away from F1 2010, because they are catered for just as well as the older, more serious gamers are. The game’s Easy Mode enables things like automatic brakes and automatic gear changes, meaning that the very young can enjoy it as a simple and enjoyable arcade-style racing game if they wish to. The other game modes slowly take these helpful hands away as they progress, until you get to the highest difficulty setting (Expert Mode) which demands a heavy-duty amount of both concentration and skill.
Visually, F1 2010 really is an extremely pleasant game to look at, and the new weather system – which can change almost every aspect of any given race, particularly the rain – not only looks pretty, but it also means that players will have to keep their wits about them constantly. There is a huge amount of content on the disc (including all sorts of different modes, including online play) and the whole package represents truly outstanding value for money. So whether you want to just jump into quick races against your friends now and again, or want to lose yourself in the deep and involving career mode, F1 2010 might just be the best Formula 1 game ever made, and real fans of the sport are sure to go absolutely doolally over it.