With all of the E3 buzz that Gran Turismo 5 generated with the finally announced release date of 11/2/2010, and the further buzz of Turn 10 Studios creating a Forza 3 one off game with Microsoft Kinect utilization, there was another huge racing game that totally flew under the radar. Not only that but I totally learned of it by chance myself. Allow me to tell you the story…
It was the first day of E3 2010 and the LA Convention Center was saturated with thousands of international journalists and enterprising video game enthusiasts who found their own way into this strictly industry-only event. As soon as I got in I made a bee-line for the Microsoft booth to find any reps from Turn 10 Studios so I can dig up any new developments if any for Forza 3.
As I walked past the various game kiosks within the Microsoft area I was stopped in my tracks by someone playing what appeared to be an open-wheel racing game. Upon closer inspection I realized the race car that the player was piloting was none other than a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25 with Jenson Button’s helmet just within view! A glance up at the corner of the flat screen confirmed it; I was looking at a genuine F1 game for the Xbox 360!
I immediately interrupted the gentleman playing the game and asked the who, what, when, where, and left out the why because that was the least of my concerns. It turns out that Codemasters, the creators of Dirt, Dirt 2, and Grid turned their attention towards bringing F1 racing back to the hardcore consoles (Xbox 360 and Playstation 3) as well as the PC and it would be called F1 2010. After chatting with the man at the kiosk for a few minutes and spending a few more minutes playing the game myself I set up an appointment with the game’s developers to get even more information.
Fast forward a day and a half later and I am in a room with the two leaders of the F1 2010 development team: Senior Producer Paul Jeal and Chief Game Designer Stephen Hood. It was at this point that the both of the gentlemen began to blow my mind as they explained what they created. I will attempt to break down the presentation to you so that you can see why I am so excited about what I saw.
What is it? As I mentioned before, Codemasters is the team behind the massively popular rally games “DiRT” and “DiRT 2”. They also created “GRiD” and a long line of racing games before those three. Paul and Stephan decided that the best game-plan (no pun intended) for tackling an F1 game would be to use the same “game engine” (Google it) used for DiRT 2. With a solid platform to build on the two focused all of their creative energies to creating something technically, visually, and even emotionally accurate to true Formula 1 racing.
What should you expect? When you finally get your hands on a copy of F1 2010 I think it will be safe to say we can expect a robust experience. Paul, Stephan and their entire team spent time with virtually every team on the F1 grid including drivers, team principals, and engineers to make sure they fit every detail, subtlety and nuance into their creation. Every team on the grid this year will be in F1 2010 including all the new teams such as Mercedes GP, Lotus, HRT, and Virgin. Each race car for each team is also modeled exactly to aerodynamic spec so you will not see the same tub and wings on every car with a simple livery switch. If you drive Jenson Button’s MP4-25 you will see the extra air scoop on the front nose and etc.
You can also expect to follow at least most of the major FIA rules when driving and that includes pit stop procedures. You will have to make sure you get on the speed limiter when you enter the pit lane and you will have to hit your marks or else you’ll run over the jack man. Also per 2010 rules the pit crew wont re-fuel your car but you will have to look after your tires and make sure that during a dry race you do at least one stint on the option tires. Also, if you get a little too aggressive on track you better believe you will get a black flag from the stewards. Oh, one more thing… The rules will still apply when you are racing online. This means that unlike GT5 or Forza 3 when some jackass decides he wants to win the race by running you off the road you’ll have more recourse than just trying to catch up and spin him out. The computer will put the hammer down and make sure you get justice.
Now if you scroll down you’ll get to see the part of the presentation that they let me film (more on that later) and hear about most of the features from Paul and Stephan themselves.
What I couldn’t show you: When the presentation started I got to see one of the best parts of the game. As cool as it was, this part was not totally approved by Codemasters yet so I was unable to film or take pictures of it. However, no one said that I could not tell you about it! The biggest difference between F1 2010 and F1 games in the past is that in addition to the racing Codemasters wants you to “experience” what it is like to be a Formula 1 driver. When you are in career mode you start off in a first person perspective view inside your trailer. Your PR agent is sitting at a table across from you and you’re free to explore your trailer and even go outside to talk to your teammate. You will even notice photographers and fans waiting behind the ropes in front of your paddock. That environment will dynamically change depending on how you do over the course of a season or which team you are driving for. If you are driving for Toro Rosso there may not be as many fans waiting for an autograph. But, if you happen to drive for McLaren-Mercedes you’ll see a flood of screaming fans and ravenous paparazzi just waiting to get a piece of you. This part of the game is so deep that I couldn’t possibly explain it all here but trust me when I say it will really make you feel like you have made it to the top rung of world-class racing.
When will it come out? This was the last but most important question I asked the guys from Codemasters. Based on what they told me, F1 2010 will hit stores in the US by September of this year. We will try to give you all the latest updates on the development of this game until it hits shelves this fall!