This is big news for any Formula One fan who enjoys video games – since Codemasters got the license in 2008, design begun immediately, and since January 2009 the game now known as “F1 2010” has been in development… to be released in just 7 days on September 24th.

Badger had it’s first go on the game at a preview day earlier this week and we were instantly impressed – visually the game beats anything before it and is more than a rival for many of the other racing and driving games on the shelves.  Play F1 2010 on easy mode and you can have a lot of fun driving all the circuits of this year’s championship with a the standard console controller. Even better, if you can get your hands on a steering wheel, the game is easily as good as the famous Geoff Crammond “Grand Prix” series in terms of realism and behaviour of the physics.

In terms of attention to detail, we’ve struggled to find anything that’s wrong or that’s been glossed over, instead chuckling at how when indicating to your engineer that you want head out on track that the driver will give a nod and a thumbs up to the chap with the trolley after checking the pit lane is clear or will just check that his gloves are feeling right – yes there’s a reason this game has been one of the most long awaited – the amount of development and hard work that’s gone into it is astounding.

Ant and Crofty at the preview day

As well as having some of the best games developers at Codemasters, ex-F1 driver Anthony Davidson has been involved with the game design right through from the drawing boards to chatting to us at the media launch, and he’s massively proud of the end product, pointing out all the minute details that he suggested should be in the game. He explained how the dev team had been calling him with random questions such as how do F1 cars behave when in reverse, the top speed etc – causing Ant to get in touch with his previous engineers and ensure the game is a accurate as possible.

On a high-level view point, the game has the usual grand prix mode where you go straight into a race, or attend a short or full grand prix weekend – but then there’s also the career mode where you get to meet your agent and look at available contracts, it’s here where you literally become an F1 driver – i.e. in your first year you may get a contract with one of the new teams such as Virgin and they’ll have certain expectations of you – do well and they’ll want to keep you, but you may also have other offers from mid-field teams.  All this goes through your agent where you get make to discuss options and make decisions affecting your career in the future. And it’s not just that – before, after and during a grand prix weekend you’ll have to talk to the press and answer questions from such characters as David Croft from Radio 5Live – yep, that’s right it’s Crofty on-demand!

If you do well in your career and say the right things to the media, you never know, you may be on course to be World Champion in a few seasons time. We’ve as yet been unable to test whether you can “do a piquet” and be ousted from the sport…

Jon, Badger's games expert is only in 24th because he wanted to test out how the pit stops worked... honest

Badger we be bringing you some more in-depth reviews ahead of the game’s release on Friday, but for now, here’s some questions that you may need answering… As with any major release of this nature, there’s tonnes of questions about F1 2010, how it will work and the features it does and doesn’t have. From Twitter and Facebook, we’ve picked some of the most common to help compile this list of Frequently Asked Questions. Should you have another one, use the comments below to post a question…

Can I do full manual setup?

Yes you can, this is far from the pick-up-and-play arcade-style Wii version in 2009 – in F1 2010 you can tweak your setup by talking to your engineer in the pit garage, but as with everything else in this game, it’s about realism so no, you can’t put a Monza style setup to drive around Monaco, because guess what – in real life, F1 drivers can’t either – a team doesn’t ship over every possible wing setup to every grand prix. That said, there’s plenty you can change to get up to a five or six tenths extra out of the car – just as there is in real life.  At the same time, you’ll have a decent setup to begin with, because as in real life the team have plenty of data for car setup from previous years, so you can go straight in and race.  From Badger’s experience, learn the track and get as fast as you can before tweaking your wing settings!

When’s the game coming out?

September 24th 2010 in all countries across the world on all three formats (except Japan, where it’s out over the Japanese GP weekend) – get your copy quick because this is one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year.

How’s the weather?

Realistic of course!  There’s a full range of weather conditions and as in previous games it’s dynamic too, so just as in real-life, if you’re driving around Spa it could be raining out at blanchemont, but dry as a bone in the pit lane. In case we haven’t mentioned this already, the game is very close to real life F1, and the same can be said for the weather conditions and how these change.

Do the tyres wear out?

Yep, just as in real life, you choose the option or prime tyre and have to change during the course of a grand prix, as do the other cars in the race. If you end up on the gravel at some point, you are able to get out of it if you’re good enough and your tyres will have less grip and take a lap or so to return to form. Flat spotting a tyre is also a possibility.  (if you’re on the highest difficulty setting)

What’s more impressive is that if you have a run-in with aanother car’s front wing, you may end up with a puncture – just as Vettel did at Silverstone after contact with Hamilton. If you’re are as good as Vettel (or on easy mode) you should be able to get yourself back to the pit lane for a new tyre or four.

What about damage?

Indeed, drive like Takumo Sato, you won’t be finishing many races and if you’re in career mode, you’ll end up having a career similar to Sato’s too.

When on easy it’s possible to get away with collisions and maybe only sustain a small amount of damage, change to medium or hard levels and if you lose the back-end across the kerbs on the Ascari chicane at Monza, you’re likely to end up scraping a barrier, which depending on how this happens could result in just a damaged end plate, through to the entire wing coming off – again, just as in real life.

Updates for cars/seasons?

No, like previous official Formula One titles, this is as is out of the box, there will be a 2011 game out in err, 2011 and Codemasters have an option for 2012 too, beyond that no-one knows because that’s when the Concorde agreement expires – yep that should give you an idea of the level of involvement this game has within F1.

Sound and Commentary

The sound is good, good as in if you like the sound of the current F1 cars, then you’ll recognise it in this game too, it’s as though it’s been sampled.  As for commentary, all those who have an issue with Jonathan Legard can relax, he’s not in the game – sadly neither is Martin Brundle, because as you can probably tell by now, this game is realistic and in case you didn’t realise, Mark Webber isn’t driving his Red Bull with the stereo tuned into BBC 5 Live – all he has is communication with the pit wall, namely his race engineer and in F1 2010 that’s how it is for you as the player.

Graphics/Visuals

The menus in the game are all kind of 3D with the options appearing to float and you can move them around – it’s a nice touch and far from the traditional cumbersome menus of previous games.  The movements of the engineers in the pit garage and especially during a pit stop are the best we’ve seen, again it’s all about attention to detail, of which there is plenty – the engineers aren’t all identical manikins and there are some real characters in there.  Even the garage itself is accurate – i.e. if you’re driving as Jenson Button and look to your left while in the pit garage you’ll recognise the McLaren garage from the telly with their unique centre station…

As for the game itself, you can see from the developers diaries and screens shots on the official site just how great the graphics are, especially if you’re playing in through an HD telly or high-resolution monitor. You won’t feel let down at all, it’s as slick as we expected.

We could go on, but when the promo material says this game is realistic, believe it – it really is and not just because of the graphics, this is the whole package.

More questions?

Like we said earlier, ask any questions you have below in the comments and look out for a full review of the game and in game footage early next week – it is indeed an exciting time for any F1 fan that has a dusty xbox, PC or PlayStation3 lying around…

Crofty wasn't too bad at all at wheel of Jenson's McLaren...