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Miscellaneous

F1 2010 Game Online Update

I mentioned in my review of F1 2010 that the online component, while it has potential to be great, was marred by a lot of the people who are spoiling the experience by playing in a way that isn’t in the spirit of fair competition. These guys make Michael Schumacher look like a saint by comparison.

The main problem seemed to be limited to the sprint class of race, 3 laps of a circuit with no pit-stops. I said in my last post that I hoped the problem wouldn’t be anywhere near as prevalent in the endurance game type as it is designed to be a mode for people who know what they’re doing due to the full damage being enabled as well as tyre degradation.

Unfortunately, after playing quite a few endurance races, I can tell you that the problem is not only as bad in most cases, I’ve seen even worse. In one race in China, a guy edged me off the track while we were going side by side at high speed down the long straight. I was half on the grass for almost the whole length of it and the guy wouldn’t budge at all. And that was only one incident in that race, before I lost connection to the game for some reason.

I’d like to be able to say that the previous incident was the worst, but far from it. Today I played an endurance and Valencia, one of my favourite tracks I always do well on. I had a good start from pole and gained a big advantage after only a few corners. I was going to run away with an easy victory barring punctures or mistakes, or so I thought.

There was one guy in a McLaren (who I heard saying childish things on voice chat before the race started). He seemed to be out of the race and was located just past the first corner off the track. I lapped him once and didn’t think anything of it. The next lap I came past again and he was moving this time.

At first it looked like he was invisible so he couldn’t hit me, but that changed as I came right up to him. He seemed to do something to trap my car from behind and I couldn’t get free. Coming round the first chicane I was unable to free myself and he was able to shove me into the wall, not at high speed, but it was enough to damage my front wing. To my surprise the game said the damage was terminal and that I was out of the race. To me this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I’m not going to play online again on this game. I just can’t be bothered to put myself through it again unless Codemasters do something by way of a patch to rectify the situation and stop it from being a haven for morons. They need to make it so that players who come to a corner at a speed where they have no chance of staying on the track turn invisible so they can’t take out people who are braking normally. They also need to make all lapped cars invisible when the leaders come past. It’s just wrong to allow people to get taken out like that, especially when it’s absolutely intentional like it was with me.

I hate to say, it but Codemasters have failed to do enough to combat this predictable problem. It’s something that all racing games with an online component struggle with, but someone eventually has to be able to get it right. It’s a shame Codemasters weren’t the ones to do so.

Categories
Miscellaneous

F1 2010 Game Review

F1 2010 is an F1 game which will blow you away if you’re a fan of the sport and a fan of racing games. It’s been a long time coming as there hasn’t been an F1 game in HD since Championship Edition for PS3 back in 2006, but it’s been worth the wait.

When I first played it, I was a bit sceptical at the handling being a bit too sensitive as I was spinning out quite a lot and was having to use the flashback feature often. I’m happy to say that it was a combination of diving in too quickly, as well as the first track being the Bahrain GP, which this year updated its layout. I’ve never played this layout before of course so it didn’t help. As a quick aside, I absolutely hate this new layout and am so glad they’re going back to the original next year.

Once I got the hang of the controls and got to racing on tracks I had learnt on the Wii game last year I started to have an absolute blast. I love the sense of speed and the intense feeling of being on the edge of your seat when you know that it is possible to make a mistake and spin the car. The Wii version never had that. There are many other things that F1 2009 didn’t have. One of which was HD graphics. I played last years game and thought it looked pretty decent, but playing this game for the first time really reminded me how far behind the Wii’s graphics are by comparison. This game is incredible to behold. When you play each track and each car for the first time, and often after many times, you can’t help but admire it.

The career mode in F1 2010 takes up the entire menu, as the paddock, complete with your motor-home of the team you’re currently driving for is the menu. It’s done in a similar style to Dirt 2, another Codemasters game that I love. You can choose to partake in either 3, 5 or 7 seasons, and the teams that are open to you at the beginning change according to that preference. For example, if you choose 3 years, you’ll be able to pick from teams such as Williams and Force India as well as the 3 new teams, but if you choose 7 years, then you’ll be stuck with either Virgin, Lotus, or Hispania. I chose the full 7 years and started with Virgin Racing.

Bear in mind that if you do start as one of these new teams, unless you play on easy or to some extent medium difficulty, you’re not going to be able to do a lot of winning. It really depends on how realistic you want to take the experience. If you’re happy to be struggling at the back of the grid being lapped for your first season, then you can certainly do that.

During the career you get interviewed after sessions and those interviews can cause tensions within the team if you say something out of line. However, while at first it looks really cool and dynamic, after less than a season you’ll find yourself being asked the same questions, with the same options for answers. Next year they need to take this to the next level and make it truly dynamic. This is a good starting point though.

While the presentation of the season mode sometimes lets the game down a bit, people play these games for the racing, and the racing is brilliant in F1 2010. Overtaking is very rewarding as you are forced to be careful depending on how many flashbacks you have remaining, where in the race you are and so on. You can’t just barge your way through like on past games and this feels challenging but also very fun.

The weather effects are spectacular. The game has dynamic settings where the track can dry after raining, or it can start raining in the middle or towards the end of a race, which can potentially cause chaos with tyre choices. I haven’t experienced that quite yet but I have driven in the rain, and it’s exhilarating and frightening by equal measure.

In general I love the game, but there are some downsides to mention. While I love the sound of an F1 car changing through the gears and the engines screaming during high speed straights, I think the engine noises are a bit too loud. I had to turn my TV down quite a bit to compensate for it, but it didn’t make that much difference. I ended up having to cut the sound of the engines down by around half in the game options because it was that piercing to the ears.

Online play was another feature that the Wii didn’t offer last year. It’s not something I ever really missed but this year Codemasters have added a robust online component. This however leads to my biggest complaint with the game. They haven’t done a good enough job in keeping the racing fair and fun. Almost every time I’ve played an online 3 lap srpint (the default game type) there has been a pile up in the first corner and I’ve generally been taken out either then or later on in the 3 lap race by someone who is so desperate to pass me that they don’t bother using their brakes.

Every chicane or heavy braking zone that comes up is another potential place to be taken out from behind when you’re just minding your own business. They have a system where sometimes, players in dangerous positions go invisible for a short period of time to avoid any further contact. That’s find but it doesn’t work well enough. There should have been a system to make people fade out if they go into a corner at a speed the game decides is above a certain limit. That way you could avoid all of these braking zone accidents and give the power to the players who take fair racing seriously. Until that happens, if it ever does, all you’ll ever get in those short races is a destruction derby.

With all that said, there is a chance that the other modes, such as endurance (20% distance) and Grand Prix (qualifying session followed by 7 laps) can solve this problem because it will be about consistent pace rather than barging people out of the way for 3 laps. If this is the case, I’ll write a follow up about it.

The other main complaint I have is with the damage in the game. In the Wii game last year, the damage setting was independent of the main difficulty level, in a similar way to the traction control, manual gears and other assists. This year, everything remains difficulty independent except damage, which really disappoints me. In the last game, rather than play on hard all the time, I liked to play on medium but put most of the assists off and increase the damage to full.

Now I can only play with full damage if I play on either hard or expert, but with that also comes harder AI, tyre wear and fewer to no flashbacks, making the game far harder than I wanted considering how easy it is to damage the car.

The other issue regarding damage is that despite the fact that it’s far more comprehensive than last year’s Wii game where you could only bend one wheel at the most, it doesn’t feel realistic enough. Even on Expert, you have to take a considerably greater impact to lose a wheel than you would in real life. At the beginning of every race, it’s common to see someone lose a small piece of their front wing and sometimes more. That won’t happen here and it’s disappointing, because it would have been fun to truly test myself.

Not only this, but no matter how fast you plough into a barrier or another car, you can’t wreck them to the extent that you sometimes see in actual Formula 1 racing. Some incidents in real life are truly spectacular, and all that remains after them is the drivers safety cell and maybe 1 wheel. I wish that was possible in the game, and what makes it more frustrating is that I know it was a design decision to make it more accessible, and they could have easily done it.

Despite these small faults, F1 2010 is still an almost faultless racing game. It plays great, looks amazing and is the best take on F1 racing yet released. I think the involvement of professional racing driver Anthony Davidson has helped the game tremendously and given an extra depth of realism never before seen. I highly recommend it, and as I predicted, I highly doubt anything other than GT5 can match it for my Game of the Year, especially now that LBP2 has been delayed to January.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Big Week for Formula 1

F1 2009 (video game)
Last year's cover art. Image via Wikipedia

This week is going to be really exciting in the world of F1, especially for gamers. The Singapore Grand Prix starts on Friday with practice and continues over the weekend as normal. However, the new F1 game by Codemasters comes out on the same day and it’s going to be hard to put it down while the real action takes place. While I am excited about the race, the championship and the changes in track and decoration in Singapore, I’ll get to that in a later post.

I got the F1 2009 game on the Wii last year and am still loving playing it. The graphics are pretty awful and there’s no online at all but it’s just pure fun. This new game looks to have all of the fun of last year’s version, but adds amazing graphics, online, a better career mode and much more.

It’s so much more realistic this time around that it’s almost indistinguishable from before. So many details make this as true to life as has ever been achieved before. From amazing weather effects, season upgrades, realistic car performances, track evolution and much more. It’s all in there.

You would think I would have left all of the compliments until after I actually get a chance to play the game, but from all of the stuff I’ve seen on YouTube and elsewhere I don’t think there will be any nasty surprises.

I would go as far as to say that there is only one game that can come close to this as my personal game of the year, and that’s unsurprisingly Gran Turismo 5, which looks absolutely mind blowing. The amount of content that they’ve managed to fit on one blu-ray is almost beyond comprehension.

With that said, in terms of actual racing fun, they may be tied in that respect, but we’ll have to wait and see. All I know is that I’ve never been more excited about two games before than these, and I’ve been playing games since I had a big yellow brick of a gameboy when I must have been around 8 years old.