F1 2010 Review (PS3)

After last year's entertaining Wii release, F1 2010 couldn't be arriving at a better time. Not only is this year's season one of the most entertaining in recent history, a certain other racing game decided to announce it was leaving us cold for a little bit longer. With Gran Turismo's failure, an even greater opportunity for Codemasters' lovingly crafted sim has arrived.

On first inspection, F1 2010 seems to have all bases covered. The presentation, although ripped from the realms of Dirt and GRID, is slick and enjoyable on the eye. Bold, space-eating letters slam across the screen relentlessly, as if you were sitting through a PowerPoint presentation from Brian Blessed. With each loading time running at the pace of a Skoda sitting on bricks, you better get used to reading up on minor points that might improve your results.

All the 2009 tracks are featured, as well South Korea's brilliant new venue and 24 top drivers.

There's no doubt the career mode will be where most players sink their teeth in, and this is where you'll see F1 2010's depth come to fruition. The racing itself is competitive for players of all skill levels, and provides a huge array of options for those who like to test their technique to perfection. From the moment you sit in the press room to announce which lowly team you've signed for, to the split second you take your first win, there's the opportunity to have as much control as you want.

If you've ever played a racing game, or even seen a race before, you won't need all the assists on. Understandably, there's no shame in having a little traction control, as this'll eliminate those unwanted flashes of excessive wheel spin. Unless you want to float round the track like a careless butterfly, we also recommend turning off the braking assist. It actually works against players for the most part, as it's impossible to push the car round corners, and also limits speed when exiting them. It'll take a few races and certainly a handful of spins, crashes or naughty corner cuts for you to work out what assists are helpful to your style.

Team mates are competitive, but don't be afraid to overtake them for that elusive contract.

From the view of the cockpit, you also get a decent say on the outlook of your car. If you want particular tyres, let the engineer know. He'll respond with the charisma of a constipated robot, but nevertheless, he's there for you. This extends to various other intricacies; whether you want to alter your car's fuel consumption, damage settings or even change which flags can be seen on track, the option's available are extensive and also add to the feeling that anyone can play to their ability.

When you find your feet, F1 2010 shows itself to be a rewarding experience. Races are often intense, and just like the real thing, a winner can be crowned on the back of one daring move. Ever-changing weather will alter your strategies throughout, and give the title a sense of constant drama that's often missing in serious racers. Although caution is not advised for those who want to knock pole position from their pedestal, it's likely you'll be shown a warning or even be on the receiving end of a penalty for minimal contact with a competitor's vehicle. This is often frustrating, and punishments can be dealt out in an unjust manner that'll leave players alienated- especially when the AI is jittery and likely to quickly dart in front of your car.

Rain; the catalyst for an out-of-control crash.

Despite the career mode's absorbing nature, they're flaws throughout F1 2010. For those who spend weekends watching David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan rabbit on, something is missing. Interviews are a good idea, but when there's three answers, none of which seem to bring any consequences, they're irrelevant to the game. Press conferences and exchanges with your personal agent also remind you you're not a superstar racer, as the human animation and dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. They're all decent ideas, but make the out-of-car experience feel as if you're dealing with a community of emotionless zombies.

Of course, such problems will hardly make a difference for the die hard fan. F1 2010 has been a long time coming, and those who enjoy the sport will find such value in this title. If the career and time trials aren't enough, online play will add a competitiveness that cannot be replicated from the AI. Even here, you can commit to a full season's worth of play, or a quick lap with the friends when you've got some time free. For a game that's so realistic, Codemasters must be commended for the insistence they show when trying to get all gamers involved. It's not perfect, but F1 2010 is an excellent way of recreating those boyhood dreams of being Lewis Hamilton, and provides a solid base for Codemasters to improve on with future titles.

Top Game Moment: A tightly fought race, as intense and rewarding as racing can get.