Whether it’s droplets of rain cascading down your driver’s visor, imposing grandstands reflected on the nose of your racing machine as you tear across the starting line or sprays of water kicked up from the car in front as your bomb around slippery tracks, a deep sense of verisimilitude is all-pervasive in F1 2010.
Featuring all 19 circuits, 12 teams and 24 drivers from the current F1 season, F1 2010’s realism runs deeper than its sleek presentation. Decisions such as the tyres you choose or the fuel load in your vehicle can dramatically affect the outcome of a race, and any damage you take on the track is faithfully recreated both visually and in terms of control; so if your chassis takes a pummelling as a rival smashes into you while curling around an impossible bend, the graphic shattering of your front wing is authentically mirrored in the handling, with your machine suddenly struggling to grip the road. Tyres that degenerate as the races unfold, a convincing illusion of speed and gravel that gets caught in your wheels when you skid off the tarmac also help make for a realistic and profoundly immersive experience, enhanced by the uncanny intelligence rival drivers who behave exactly as you’d expect real-world speed freaks to do.
However, for a game that wears its simulation heart on its sleeve and shirks any sense of arcade fun, F1 2010 doesn’t go out of its way to embrace newbies and lacks the range of tutorials you’d expect from such a realistic package. Information provided on the track also leads to confusion as it’s often hard to determine where you are in relation to other drivers – which can be intensely frustrating in the closing stages of a race – but this minor annoyance isn’t enough to spoil one of the most authentic F1 sims ever released.
Reviewed by David McComb