F1 2010 has been on general sale for a couple of weeks and has received generally rave reviews. The chart-topping game scored 86/100 on Metacritic. Official PlayStation magazine gave it 90/100. IGN gave it 85 and said it was “Easily the best Grand Prix game since Geoff Crammond was on the beat”, and your very own Online Race Driver scored it 4.5/5. But wait – what was that? The internet is not happy?! Forums are talking of it being rubbish? There are bugs, you say? Little Timmy fell down the well? Well – we had better investigate.
Since the game’s release, gaming forums have been awash with complaints from unhappy gamers complaining of a dodgy penalty system, impossibly long pit stops and some unrealistic AI getting in the way of their enjoyment. The official Codemasters forum has a 150+ page thread of people listing bugs, but they seem to vary across the different platforms. Codemasters have also announced they are going to release a patch for the game – which can either be viewed as a natural part of the development cycle, or as an admission of guilt that they have got some things wrong. But how bad are the problems? We’ve had a look at some of the common complaints to see if they are justified.
1. The AI is too slow/fast – How long is a piece of string? Some people have complained the game is too easy and others too hard, which are probably each correct depending on the player’s skill level. AI difficulty can be customised to four levels, and driving aids can be switched on and off to make things easier or more difficult. If you haven’t bothered exploring the options this is a pretty invalid complaint.
2. The AI drivers don’t pit – Some people have been complaining that despite taking their mandatory pit stop in career mode races, their computer opponents fail to do so, which does appear to be a genuine issue. Many players have experienced leading a race, pitting, and then being stuck behind some drivers who have not done the same, making the race unfair. However most cars do seem to pit most of the time, and the situation can only be enhanced by career games being in their infancy and having to drive one of the worst cars – meaning players can often simply be beaten by the length of a pit stop on sheer pace by the front runners, but the bug remains something that needs sorting out asap.
3. In-game interviews with the press are pointless – The much publicised ‘relationship with the media’ part of the game is one of the biggest let-downs. Some of the questions don’t make any sense, and it is not difficult to quickly work out that praising your team will make you popular with them, and slagging them off will not. It’s a nice idea, and they do have some effect on the game in terms of your relationship with the team, but the overall impact doesn’t seem to have a dramatic enough effect over the game to be worth bothering with.
4. I’m being held in the pits too long – Another justified complaint, and one acknowledged by Codemasters. Driving for one of the smaller teams means your pit box is at the far end of the pit lane, and the game has a system in place where you won’t be released if another car is going past your pit box, meaning even if you pit in front of five other cars it is likely you’ll have to agonisingly wait for them all to trundle past you before you can get back into the race, unfairly costing you time and positions. In real-life teams are not allowed to release cars in front of other cars, but the situation is never so bad that a car would be held for ten seconds or more without reason. Codies and have suggested the following workarounds until they can sort it out via a patch: Firstly to “Increase or decrease your first pit stop by a lap from the pre-set default”, secondly to “Reverse your strategy to start the race on the prime tyres rather than the options, which will allow you to get significantly later in the race before having to make your pit stop” or thirdly to simply “carry on with your default race strategy but choose to ignore the lap where the Race Engineer calls you in and select to pit on the subsequent lap”. In summary – try not to pit at the same time as the AI.
5. I’m getting punctures too often – Punctures are a part of F1 no doubt, but some people have complained of getting four punctures in one session. This does seem rather a high number, but in my own experience I have only picked one up after a few trips off the circuit – staying on the circuit dramatically reduces your chances of getting one. I have probably played through about 20 races now and only had two punctures, with one being after I’d hit a wall quite hard. I’ll put this one down to either bad luck, or more likely, bad driving.
6. I get too many penalties! – Again, this is a customisable option and you can set the rules to ‘relaxed’ or ‘realistic’ depending on your tastes. If you make contact with another car it is likely you’ll get a warning or penalty, and the same if you cut a corner or rejoin a race after a spin and drive onto the track in front of oncoming cars. Many have been saying these rules are too harsh, but they appear to work perfectly to me – if you race as if you are a real F1 driver would and avoid unfair collisions and kerb-cutting and dangerously rejoining the circuit then you won’t have any problems. If you drive like it’s a computer game and bump into everyone then you’ll get penalised. If you brake too much when you’re on the racing line and another car runs into you then you’ll get penalised. The rules are an important part of the F1 simulation, and whilst they can be unforgiving, I think they are implemented fairly. After all, contact in virtual motorsport is far more common than in real life.
7. R&D doesn’t work – The career mode features an ‘R&D’ objectives mode where if you complete a certain lap time in practice you’ll be rewarded with a new part to improve your car. Many drivers have hit this lap time but then ended the session and not received it. This appears to be a difference between skipping the session and allowing it to end. It looks like if you quit the session and move straight to qualifying the time won’t count, but if you fast-forward the session to the end via the timing screen on your monitor it will work properly.
8. Corrupted game saves – Not a bug exactly but bloody annoying. Players across both consoles and PC’s have reported losing the fruits of their sweat and tears by having their game saves corrupted. This apparently happens when you complete an R&D objective and then quit straight to the paddock. There is no problem if you progress to qualifying and then quit… apparently. Hopefully this will get fixed it the patch.
So there clearly are some issues to be addressed – , but there is also a lot of vitriol on the internet that is unfounded and appears to be written by players struggling to master the game, who should realise that the game itself is very frustrating by it’s nature. It aims to reflect reality, and look how worked up real F1 drivers can get – for example this, this and this. From a development perspective F1 2010 is a pretty difficult game to get right first time, and after spending a week playing F1 2010 I still believe this game is excellent.
Having said that, I sincerely hope the issues can be ironed out before too long, as many people will be rightly peeved at their £40 game not working as it should. We’ll bring you news of when the patch will be released as soon as we hear anything – hopefully we won’t have to wait too long.
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