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Review: F1 2010

Sep 27 // Brian Szabelski
F1 2010 (PC [reviewed], Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) Developer: Codemasters Birmingham Publisher: Codemasters Released: September 22, 2010 MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox 360 and PS3); $39.99 (PC) The largest part of your time in this game will likely be spent in the game’s career mode. And actually, career mode begins right when you boot up the game, as you’ll have to enter your name, nationality, career length (3, 5 or 7 seasons) and pick from one of three teams to start with, all new teams for the real-world 2010 season. This is who you’ll race for during your first season, and as you perform better, you’ll raise your reputation and open up new ride possibilities. It’s certainly not a short-mode either: even a short weekend can take upward of an hour per weekend. Multiply that by the 19 races in a single season and well… if you pick the 7-year career, you’ll be playing for a while before getting to the end. While on your team, there’s plenty to do. You’ll have to deal with interviews that change a bit based on your performance. Positive answers will help your team like you, but if you want to speak your mind, you’d better be prepared to deal with an unhappy team. It’s nice to have this feature but I get asked the same questions a lot, which is a bit of a disappointment. There are also occasional R&D sessions during practice, too, which require you to meet an objective to receive an upgrade for your team. The biggest game-related issue in career mode and grand prix mode, though, happens to be the A.I. While Codemasters touted this as being organic and an accurate sim of the real series, it isn’t. It exists well enough that on a shorter race, it’s not noticeable, but it does feel robotic at times, not to mention computer drivers’ machines wiggle around quite a bit. And the race director A.I. loves handing out warnings and penalties every time you bump into someone because they block you or when one of the A.I. cars runs into you hard. If you guessed this happens quite a bit ... you're correct. Two other things that are missing, though, that really need to be in there in the future are safety cars for full-course caution periods, and perhaps on a lesser urgency, a team building mode similar to what GRID had would be kind of a nice thing. Being able to carry sponsorship with you from team to team, as in real life, would be fun, but sadly, I’m sure the teams and their regular sponsors woudn't allow for that. Still, though, there are plenty of options to pick from when it comes to customizing your experience. All the driving aids are toggleable, the A.I. difficulty and dynamic weather are adjustable and race and weekend length can be shortened or extended out to a full length. The short option gives you practice, qualifying and the race all as single sessions, while the full length is all three practices, three-round knockout qualifying and then the race itself. It’s nice to be able to pick from either mode, depending on what your preference is, as is being able to adjust the game’s rules to however you’d like. Handling is a key part of any Formula One experience, and in F1 2010, Codemasters have done well. They don’t handle like they would in a perfect sim, but they’ve made them feel like the super-powered beasts they are. Even with all the driving aids on, its possible to spin the car out if you’re not careful, reinforcing the idea that you’re always driving on the edge every lap. The actual controls are mapped out like and feel as responsive as the controls in GRID, meaning for veterans of that game, this should feel a bit familiar on the controller. One of Codemaster's promoted highlights of this title is that the weather is supposed to be realistic. from a graphics standpoint, this is mostly true. As the track gets wet from the rain, water does pool on it, the surface does become reflective and a spray plume does pop up from your car, though perhaps not as much as it really should. Likewise, if it stops raining during the race, you do begin to see the track dry out a little bit. The raindrop effect on the cockpit camera angle is very, very cool to see, too. Cars also respond differently in the wet and become more difficult to drive as well as a little bit slower, just as they do in the real world. And speaking of graphics, F1 2010 looks great. Waiting until this late in the season proved to be a very wise move, as it has allowed Codemasters to properly create the 2010 season's cars. Car damage is rendered well and there aren't any noticeable issues with clipping. Framerates do slow down every once in a while, but on the PC version, it's not something I've come across often. It's not game-breaking when it does seem to happen, either, as I've noticed the few times it happens, the lag shows up for maybe half-a-second before reverting to normal. The console versions, I've been told, suffer from more noticeable lag, so keep that in mind when considering this game.As for the tracks, they, too, have a high level of detail and very closely replicate their real-life counterparts. From the woods of Spa-Francorchamps to the buildings alongside the track in Monaco as you run through the principality's streets (seen above), everything looks as it did during the current F1 season -- or at least close enough that most errors pr changes are not distinguishable. There's even quite a bit of depth of field, especially on some of the courses that have beautiful backdrops like Singapore. Even the new Korean circuit has cranes showing that it's still under construction, just like it is in real-life. It's also nice to progress through a weekend and see the racing lines begin to form on the track over the course of practice, qualifying and the race itself. The only thing I can knock them on with design is that pit lane appears to be designed to have your team in the first pit, no matter what team you're with. The game’s soundtrack is probably one of its highlights, as Codemasters has found the right licensed songs, along with some very good original scores, to provide the right mood and atmosphere for the title. Most of the music you’ll hear plays on the menu and loading screens, and each session has its own loading screen theme that fits well. But more so, the actual sounds of the machines are fantastic. The engines really do have that high-pitched and piercing whine that their real-life counterparts do, and collision sounds match up with the on-screen action. The voice acting does sound a little boring at times, but the almost-always calm voice of your race engineer does mesh well with how they sound in the real world. And it still always blows me away when I hear my agent speak my name without a single stutter or pause that might indicate the game’s trying to insert a clip somewhere. Outside of career mode, there are your basic grand prix and time trial modes. Grand prix mode allows you to race up to a full season’s worth of races or just a single race if you’d like. You can also pick from all 19 racetracks in the game, so if you want to do 19 straight races at Monaco, you can do just that. Time trial mode has a single-player mode as well as a party option. If you’re guessing the party option is the mode where you and your friends trade off the controller and each take turns trying to turn the fastest lap, you either are a good guesser or you own the game. There’s also online leaderboards so you can compare who goes around each track the fastest. And what would a game like this be without multiplayer? Of course F1 2010 has it, and as you might have guessed, it’s pretty much the same standard racing multiplayer mode you’ve run into a million times by now, especially if you’ve played Codemasters other online racing titles. That being said, there are, of course, the same idiots doing the same stupid things like punting you off in the first corner of a track, so be warned. It’s also limited to only 12 cars including AI and one car from all 12 teams must be represented. You can blame Formula One and its teams itself for that, because apparently, they didn’t want lobbies to be filled with just McLarens or Ferraris racing around the track. Unfortunately, as much as I love what this game brings to the table, there is one major, crippling flaw with it on all three versions, it seems: save files are somehow corrupting completely. What’s causing this isn’t for certain, but based on my experiences and what a few folks on the Steam forums have uncovered, it seems to relate to doing R&D runs in practice. That would indeed make sense, as in both cases, I suffered corrupt files right after saving following a practice R&D run. Hopefully, someone at Codemasters can try to find out what the cause is and if they can patch it out, because it’s killed two of my career playthroughs already, forcing me to restart at the beginning just to get to the main meat of the game. That’s not fun; that’s pure bullshit. And then there are some assorted smaller flaws as well, mostly that the lollipop man (the F1 term for the pit crew member holding the sign that tells you when to leave the pit after the stop is complete) tends to wait to release you until all the other cars in the pit lane, including ones all the way down at the end that came in after you, are out of the way. There’s an easy workaround or two for this thankfully (pitting out of sequence with everyone or running a longer race to avoid mass pitting), but it’s still a bit annoying. I’ve also run into a few texture glitches here and there, but nothing that wasn’t sorted out by backing out to the paddock and going back into the mode I was in. Codemasters had a significant task in front of them. They wanted to re-create the F1 experience in a way that almost no F1 game had done so before. In the end, they got it pretty close to it on their first try in some areas but fell flat on their faces in others. The game save corruption bug, which was also present in DIRT 2, is by far the biggest of all glitches and the most sinister, but there are several other, smaller ones as well that pop up as well. Hopefully, Codemasters patches these up quickly before they drag the game down too far. And I say too far, because in this case, the save file issue had enough of a negative impact on me that I'm backing up all my save files after every session for my third career attempt. Hardcore simulation fans – the kind of people who build dedicated racing seats and set-ups for their games -- will likely walk away from this a little disappointed in that it’s not exactly like driving one of these beasts in real life, but for everyone else, it’s an absolute blast and a demanding challenge, all in the same game. Let's just hope they patch it before it eats my game save half a dozen times first. Score: 7.0 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)   (at least until it's patched)
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Since 2006, Formula One fans have been left without an officially licensed game. Sure, there have been mods for games like rFactor, and the Williams F1 machine is coming to the extremely expensive to play iRacing.com, bu...

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inFAMOUS 2 playable at PAX Prime


Sep 02
// Brian Szabelski
As if people heading to PAX Prime didn't have enough to be excited about, Sony and the crew at Sucker Punch have a little something for the crowds in attendance: a playable demo of inFAMOUS 2. Seven kiosks will be set-up at t...

Review: NCAA Football 11

Jul 09 // Brian Szabelski
NCAA Football 11 (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2)Developer: EA Tiburon/EA CanadaPublisher: EA SportsRelease Date: July 13, 2010MSRP: $59.99, $39.99 (PlayStation 2) To achieve its goal of creating the most realistic college football experience to date, EA has made a few changes to the old NCAA Football formula. One of the most notable changes this year comes through the improved running mechanics. Rather than having players stutter or quickly cut to what appears to be a canned animation, spins and jukes are seamlessly incorporated into a player’s run. Part of this is because of the improved dual analog stick controls for running, which now senses how far the analog stick is being leaned, rather than if it is simply being pushed in one direction or another. This sensitivity does take some getting used to, but after a short time, it becomes easy to use and helps make runs more precise. Only five of the actual controls -- high stepping, jukes, spins, trucks and shielding the ball from contact – are mapped to the right analog stick, and that’s probably a good thing. Otherwise, you might go to do a stiff arm and end up juking right into the arms of an opposing linebacker. The run game also gets a little buff with improved blocking from the offensive line. Offensive linemen react a bit better to picking up their targets, and while there’s still a few blown blocks or bad choices during the game, it’s noticeably easier to get the running game going in NCAA Football 11 … or noticeably more difficult to effectively stop the run when teams are balanced, even on lower difficulty settings. But enough about the running game and how it’s a bit better this year. What’s really going to get college football fans excited is the fact that EA have tried to give each of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools a unique feel that accurately reflects them. This year, that’s not just adding in new mascots (one of which is from my alma mater, Bowling Green State University) and keeping up with new stadiums for some teams: it’s giving 30 of the most well known teams their own unique pre-game run-outs. In this area, the crew at EA Tiburon and EA Canada have done very well, both in picking the teams to use for this, and in recreating their run-outs. Notre Dame’s players slap the “Play Like A Champion Today” sign in the locker room before heading out onto the field. Michigan’s virtual team runs under the same “Go Blue” banner the real team does. Miami emerges from its giant helmet in a cloud of smoke. A Texas player leads the charge out of the tunnel with the American flag flying high, just like in real life. Some of the more complex ones aren’t in this year’s version (Colorado and its buffalo are absent, for example), but these all add immensely to the feel that you’re actually playing for one of these schools, rather than just having a generic run-out like in previous games. Likewise, EA has decided to put its ESPN license to good use, incorporating “ESPN College Gameday” and other elements into the series. The full ESPN broadcast presentation package is in NCAA Football 11 for the first time, including the ESPN transition wipe, and while Lee Corso’s antics are missing from this year’s game, I think I’ll survive without hearing his canned lines every fourth or fifth play from scrimmage. Besides, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews has apparently taken his place in that regard with heir sideline reports, as she seems to say the same couple of things every time one of your players gets injured. Yes, Erin, we know he might not be coming back to the game after he broke his leg; you just told us that about the guy with the concussion. In this year’s game, each team has a playbook tailored more to its actual style, rather than just a generic one with a few unique plays thrown in. Sure, there is some overlapping (as there is in real college football), but seeing these little tweaks and different formations goes a long way in making you feel like you're actually in control of the team you've picked, be it Nebraska’s traditional option running attack or any one of the many variations on the spread offense. Of course, this is on the offensive side of the ball; on defense, you don’t quite have the same variation in play choices. On top of the ESPN license, the playbooks, and the run-outs, NCAA Football 11 looks a bit better than last year’s game, in that the player’s skin textures have lost a bit of their "sparkle." That’s quite a good thing, because instead of looking like plastic dolls or vampires from Twilight standing in the sunshine, they actually look like human beings … even if the mouth animations still look as awful as they did back when I played NCAA Football 2003. On the other hand, if one of the game’s improvements was better lighting, EA has both succeeded and failed. It's succeeded in that the lighting on the field and on the players looks better, of course. But it's failed in that the fans in the stands look like they’re radioactive whenever the sun is shining at a game. Note to the guys at EA Tiburon: chill it on the bloom effects, okay? While there aren’t any new game modes in NCAA Football 11, Dynasty mode has undergone a major expansion, most of which is geared toward the Web. A new Dynasty website allows you to manage your NCAA Football 11 dynasties online and even recruit players. Yeah, you read that right: you can go through the recruiting process both in-game and online, which seems both interesting and a bit unnecessary for anyone but the most hardcore NCAA Football 11 players. Dynasties are searchable and can be made either public, allowing anyone to join, or private and password-protected. And if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s a new feature called DynastyWire for hardcore fans and wanna-be journalists. This features allows you to create stories for game recaps in a blog for your dynasty, then share them on social networking sites. While the inner writing geek in me loves this (as I’ve been doing this kind of stuff for years offline) the social networking part of it seems a little much. Do I really need to know how friends are doing in their Duke or North Texas dynasties? Probably not. As for the actual Dynasty mode mechanics, they remain largely the same except for changes to the recruiting process. Coaches can talk directly with recruits on a number of topics, from fan base and athletic facilities to whether they’re a championship contender and how much playing time they’ll get. Recruits will also ask about your school’s weaknesses and after each talk, and you’ll get a grade on each topic to see how you scored compared to other schools. That really turns up the pressure to sell your school in the best way possible, something every athletic program has to go through on a yearly basis, and players can and will pass on you for other schools that will better match their desires. Of course, if all that is too easy for you or you’re something of a videogame masochist, a difficulty slider has been added, as well. The changes tie in very well with the whole “recreating the college experience” theme for this year’s title, as it puts more emphasis on the skill of being able to make a good pitch rather than simply going undefeated and raking in the recruits. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. This year’s control set-up is essentially the same as last year’s, with the exception of the dual analog stick controls for running. TeamBuilder is once again online only, with the only new additions being the ability to play online against other created teams and add custom text on the front of team jerseys, something that should have been doable last year. Road to Glory mode returns, and even with the new name, it’s essentially the same as the Campus Legend mode from NCAA Football 06 to 09, down to the choices you have to make for evening activities. Oh, except this time, Erin Andrews is the “host” and the game will follow your college career with in-game highlights and discussions about your performance. Thankfully, if it sounds as annoying to you as I actually found it to be, you have the option to disable it when you start a Road to Glory save. I’d advise you do so. There’s a handful of other glitches, too, from players continuing their timeout motions and not getting set for the play, to the camera being totally off-center on referees when they make calls or going through players during instant replays, to a noticeable bit of lag toward the end of some games each time after the ball is snapped. Even the ESPN graphics in the game will lag out or be choppy at times, and it’s somewhat distracting.  NCAA Football 11 is also a sign of what’s to come in regards to EA’s plans to make you buy games new instead of used. Each copy of NCAA Football 11 comes with a code that unlocks online multiplayer and the ability to actually use your TeamBuilder teams for free, as well as recruiting reports for Dynasty mode. If you buy it used later, you’ll have to pony up for these features, and in either case, you’ll also have to register an account with EA if you haven’t already done so. It seems like such a hassle, and having to pay just to make good use of TeamBuilder would upset me if I had bought it used, but with no competitors on the market, there’s not a whole lot that can be done about it. When it comes down to it, though, all of these small things don’t take away from what the teams at EA Tiburon and EA Canada have put together: the most realistic college football experience on videogame consoles to date. Sure, the “glowing” fans and the occasional hiccup might remind you that you’re playing a game, but with the new team introductions, the improved and individualized team playbooks, and heck, even the familiar “ESPN College Gameday” logos and theme that plays during the loading screen, NCAA Football 11 feels much less sterile and fake than some of its predecessors. EA Sports’ slogan has always been “It’s in the game,” and while for many years that was a half-truth for the NCAA Football franchise, this year, it’s more of a “four-fifths-truth,” if I may say. There’s still room for improvement, but for the first time in I can recall, I actually feel like I’m playing a college football game and not just Madden: NCAA Edition. If you like college football, definitely pick this one up, because EA’s scored a touchdown with this year’s installment. Crap, that was a pun, wasn’t it? Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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The NCAA Football series has long been considered the little brother of EA Sports’ Madden franchise, not just because it’s often received Madden features the following year. There have always been questions about ...

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E3 10: Take a look at this sweet Crackdown 2 gameplay


Jun 17
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Crackdown 2 might not have been a focal point of Microsoft's E3 keynote, but it's still on the show floor in playable form. Though the series has shifted developers from Realtime Worlds to Ruffian Games, all the things that ...
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E3 10: Next Heavy Rain DLC chapter on hold


Jun 16
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While E3's been chock full of great news for just about everyone so far, Heavy Rain fans -- and especially those who liked the "Taxidermist" DLC -- might want to brace themselves a bit. Quantic Dream's Guillaume de ...
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E3 10: OnLive to offer first year of service for free


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When it was first announced at GDC, Warner Bros.' OnLive service was met with a mixed reaction. Some people seemed to like the idea, while others ... well, let's say they weren't too kind to it. Perhaps trying to win over som...
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E3 10: The Last Guardian likely to appear at TGS


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Team ICO's The Last Guardian was announced at last year's E3, but it was oddly missing from this year's Sony presentation. However, everyone waiting for news about the game shouldn't fear: Sony has hinted that the game is goi...
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E3 10: The Tester gets second season, casting call open


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Loved The Tester? Hated it to death? Were totally indifferent to its existence? Well, it doesn't matter what you thought about it, because Sony's green lit a second season of The Tester, set to air this fall on the PlayStatio...
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E3 10: New Marvel vs. Capcom 3 gameplay videos appear


Jun 15
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It wouldn't be E3 without a few surprises, and one of those happens to be two videos, which went up on YouTube earlier today, showing off gameplay footage from Capcom's upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom 3: The Fate of Two W...
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E3 10: The 3DS gets all cuddly with Nintendogs + Cats


Jun 15
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Somewhere in Nintendo's headquarters, as they were planning ahead for the 3DS, they must have been thinking, "Hmmm, how can we possibly makes Nintendogs any better for our new handheld?" Well, the answer was apparently, "Let'...
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E3 10: PilotWings Resort announced for 3DS


Jun 15
// Brian Szabelski
While we saw a huge list of 3DS games announced at today's Nintendo E3 conference, one we didn't see was PilotWings Resort, the first PilotWings game in 14 years. Taking place at Wuhu Island -- the same setting as Wii Sports ...
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E3 10: Paper Mario coming to the 3DS


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When I saw the 3DS announcement at this morning's Nintendo E3 conference, the first thing I immediately thought was, "Man, the Paper Mario series would sure work good on the 3DS!" Apparently, Nintendo was thinking the exact s...
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The Forgotten: Street Fighter EX


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[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our...
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Playing With Yourself: Living the dream


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[Editor's note: NihonTiger90 talks about how playing as himself in videogames help keep his dreams alive. -- CTZ] Dreams, we all have them. Some are way far out there and some are very realistic. Over time, they can kind o...
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Talk about big news: News site The Huffington Post is now reporting that Sony will post their first loss since 1985, and it is a big one: $1.1 billion, or over 100 billion yen, for the year 2008. Yes, Sony is a conglomerate,...

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A Time to Destroy: The destruction of the world


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[Editor's note: NihonTiger90 takes a look at Final Fantasy VI's big twist for his Monthly Musing piece. -- CTZ] The end of the world: it's become something of a cliche now a days, but there was a time when this was almost unh...
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The start of the affair: Apple IIe


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Gaming’s Guilty Pleasures: God mode


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[Editor's note: NihonTiger90 takes a look at the games that make us become like Gods for the April Monthly Musings. Damn it, I really want to play SimCity 2000 now. -- CTZ] When I saw this month’s Mon...
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Good Idea, Bad Idea: The silent protagonist


Feb 10
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[NihonTiger90 takes a look at the silent protagonist in today's contribution to the Monthly Musings. -- CTZ] One of the biggest issues in gaming that has and persists as a major debate is the nature of the silent protag...

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