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Face-Off: F1 2010

Constructors championship.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer
- Xbox 360 PlayStation 3
Disc Size 4.8GB 4.75GB
Install 4.8GB (optional) 999MB (mandatory)
Surround Support Dolby Digital Dolby Digital, 7.1LPCM, 5.1LPCM, DTS

Not much has been seen of F1 on the HD consoles since Sony's somewhat uninspiring 2007 release, Formula One Championship Edition. Aside from a Ferrari cameo in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, F1 on console has effectively lain fallow, consumer interest exhausted after years of uninspiring annual updates.

With Sony allowing its licensing agreement to lapse, it was something of a calculated gamble when Codemasters acquired the rights, but it appears to have paid off: in last week's chart, F1 2010 unseated Halo: Reach at the top and actually sold more than the second, third and fourth positions combined.

In applying the graphics and simulation technology from its DiRT and GRID titles, combined with key gameplay mechanics such as the instant replay flashback, Codemasters has succeeded in making a modern, highly playable, challenging but still accessible game on all three major HD platforms. This is a really worthwhile racer on all three platforms, even though there are plenty of factors for those owning multiple gaming systems to consider before deciding which one to buy.

Onto the Face-Off then. As is the custom, there's a raft of assets to wade through for those so inclined, including a PC/PS3/360 comparison gallery and the first of three head-to-head vids. As always, remember to use the full-screen button for proper 720p resolution.

F1 2010: PS3 vs. Xbox 360 comparisons.

There are no real surprises in terms of the basic visual make-up of F1 2010 - it's the traditional EGO set-up, meaning native 720p on both console platforms with full-on 4x multi-sampling anti-aliasing on Xbox 360 and quincunx AA for the PS3. In general terms, this translates directly into a more focused, sharper image on the 360 with the very best edge-smoothing the hardware in the Xenos GPU is capable of producing. Quincunx has the same approximate level of anti-aliasing as MSAA, the difference being that the entire look of the game gets an unwelcome blur added as a consequence.

In the previous EGO release, DiRT 2, this wasn't so much of an issue as the game was very heavily post-processed. Motion blur was utilised effectively, and in this sense the quincunx anti-aliasing fitted in nicely with the overall aesthetic. One of the first things you notice with F1 2010 is that the stylised bloom and motion blur has been pared back significantly, resulting in a cleaner, some might even say quite sterile look to the game. In this situation, the QAA doesn't work so well and the additional blur up against the 360 game isn't exactly welcome.

The 360's 4x MSAA makes for a sharp and pristine look, whereas quincunx on PS3 blurs the image and isn't quite so impressive.

EGO games have also traditionally favoured the Xbox 360 in terms of performance. GRID was considerably smoother and with much lower levels of screen-tear. DiRT 2 redressed the situation somewhat with improved performance on PS3, and what difference remained appeared to be far less apparent to the human eye when the game was in motion.

F1 2010 sees the DiRT 2 situation on PS3 and Xbox 360 effectively reversed. During gameplay they appear to be much the same, but a deeper analysis gives an apparent advantage to the PlayStation 3 release. Let's kick off with five head-to-head tests where we play through the same areas of the same tracks on both consoles.

F1 2010 360/PS3 gameplay performance tests.

Both games target 30FPS, and in common with most other console releases, they'll drop v-sync to maintain controller response and smoother motion when performance falls below that. What we clearly see, however, is that the 360 game is liable to tear more often than the PS3 version, sometimes puzzlingly so as in some areas we see the same area of track being rendered with no CPU cars while the PS3 is offering zero tearing while processing more vehicles.

The light and heavy rain weather conditions with all that extra alpha should be putting an additional load on bandwidth and fill-rate - traditional weaknesses of the RSX compared to the 360's Xenos. However, this doesn't appear to be causing the PS3 much in the way of problems either, and even in these challenging conditions we see sections where the Xbox 360 game is being outperformed. Perhaps the additional burden on the GPU of the 4x MSAA is the differentiating factor here.