F1 2010 E3 Impressions

The last officially-licensed Formula One racing game to grace the PlayStation 3 was Formula One Championship Edition released back in 2007. While it was a decent racer, a new title seems about due. Codemasters acquired the rights to this license, and PSLS got a sneak-peek of the upcoming F1 2010.

After seeing a live demo and then playing the game for a few sessions, one thing was abundantly clear – this isn’t your Daddy’s Formula One game. Rather than race through a typical career mode of practice, qualify, race, repeat, F1 2010 reboots the Formula One genre entirely with a much more in-depth career mode. The single player campaign will start with you customizing your character and will actually being during a press conference. Here you will announce what team you are joining as an up-and-coming rookie in the world of F1 racing. If that sounds somewhat familiar, then perhaps you are thinking of MLB The Show’s “Road To The Show” mode. It does seem similar in concept, but this application of “become a superstar” has much more emotion attached to it.

According to Codemasters, throughout the season you will build a relationship with your crew via events that occur both on and off the track. While racing, your crew chief will let you know over the radio what certain flags and signs mean, and as you improve in ranking this advice will slowly diminish as your chief gains confidence in your abilities as a racer. As you progress, rumors will fly around that must be addressed by you via fully-voiced dialog trees. These can include possible offers from competing teams that may or may not be true. How you deal with these rumors can affect how your teammates respond to you. Do you hint at the possibility of a bigger team such as Mercedes or Ferrari picking you up in order to gain some popularity, at the expense of your team’s feelings/respect towards you? Or do you stay loyal to the team that took you in when you were a relative nobody? Also, should you choose to move on to a bigger team, you will no longer be a big fish in a little pond – your role in this new team will be diminished and you won’t enjoy the same kind of status that you did with your smaller team.

The rise to stardom in any major sport usually means that you pick up a rival along the way. In the case of F1, your main rival will be another driver on your team. This wasn’t elaborated on too far, but the team at Codemasters did seem to have some big ideas here.

The graphics are, in true Codemasters’ form, impressive. Our first race was in the rain, and as we took off from the starting grid the rain on the car started to pebble and drift off of the body. According to Codemasters, the track is the star of the show with various dynamic wear and tear effects added to it. Every 30 square centimeters (just under a square foot) of track has individual information attached to it, such as amount of grip due to water, rubber, dust, etc.

The tires on an F1 racer displace approximately 80 Liters (a bit over 21 gallons) of water a second, and the track is constantly changing in response to that. These effects are also scaled to match the length of your race – the end of a 10-lap race should feel about the same as the end of a 100-lap race. How the track feels is important to a racer, and this is also crucial when determining what time is best to get out onto the track during a qualifying session.

The pit crews are also fully motion-captured, and are constantly rendered whenever you are out on the track. This is to keep the game as immersive as possible, with no unsightly pop-in of character models as you enter pit road. Every action is fully animated for the driver as well. On the audio side of things, there will be a fully-licensed soundtrack and the audio will be in 5.1 surround sound. The game’s audio engine also incorporates reflective sound, which is audio that bounces off of buildings from your own (and presumably competitor’s) car. This will make you look out of your mirrors more often to see if anyone is on your tail, but if you’re listening to your crew chief then you should know if anyone is around you.

If the above description of this game seemed in-depth, then that simply reflects the amount of detail that has obviously gone into the making of this game. So much more has yet to be officially revealed, such as multiplayer, yet if what we haven’t seen is as what was shown then we needn’t worry about the quality. Codemasters came to shake up the Formula One racing game genre, and it looks like they may have an addictive gem on their hands. We’ll know for sure how well the game performs when it releases on September 21st.