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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

  Formula 1
- Upon starting Formula One Championship Edition, there are two play modes available: Arcade and Grand Prix. This is definately where we separate the men from the boys. Arcade mode is for those who like pedal to the metal racing and are not worried about all the technical aspects of a race. The Grand Prix mode however, is for those who are hardcore when it comes to racing. If you've ever wanted to race a Formula One car against the pro's, the Grand Prix mode is the closest you'll ever come without actually sitting in the real thing.

In arcade mode you can either jump right into a race or you can do some timed attacks in which you just race by yourself and try to beat your own best times. You have three levels of difficulty (easy - hard) to choose from, each with five different tracks and eleven different teams or cars to choose from. Each car (team) has thier own level of speed, grip, acceleration, and brake capabilities, and of coarse whether you would like an automatic or manual transmission. You either race against the computer or in a two player mode. I found arcade mode to be a simple, yet entertaining play mode option that is perfect for all those casual racing fans. You can race more aggressively, cut corners, and bump your opponents to get ahead. You get bounced around a little, but the race continues. The realism isn't quite there, but it's fun to just race against a friend for bragging rights.

Now, for those of you who are serious about Formula One, the Grand Prix play mode is for you! Wild arcade mode style of driving is absolutely not acceptable here. Contact with opponent cars damage your own vehicle and send you careening off the track. Just try to cut a corner by swerving off the asphalt without losing control and making your car spin out on the grass. And when you try to get back onto the track, you must do it in short controlled bursts of throttle, because punching it will just cause you to spin and if you turn the wheel just a tad, you will start doing donuts (which is quite fun I might add, but not good for your race). This is not a race to be taken lightly. Individual car performance and behavior were all based on the official Formula One records of the 1997 season, and you are allowed to make your own final adjustments to your car and track with options such as steering and braking assist, tire type and compound, suspension, fuel load, front and rear downforce settings, weather conditions, number of laps, whether or not you want warning flags to be displayed, etc, etc. Talk about creating an incredibly realistic racing simulation experience!

Once your car is set you have to choose whether you want to just practice first, or qualify or get on with the race. I recommend to practice with your car to determine the best tire compound before jumping into a race. And qualifying is a good idea also because if you go straight into a race, your grid position will be defaulted to last place, making it very difficult to progress pass the other racers, even for the most seasoned racing fans. Another aspect that makes the game even more challenging is the fact that all of the other drivers on the track have their own artificial intelligence programmed into them based on their actual real life driving styles causing you to adjust your driving strategies for each individual race.

- The developers of F1 Championship Edition must be applauded for the stunning attention to detail of both the drivers and race tracks. The tracks and scenery were both based on actual video footage and a lot of work must have been put into making the immediate trackside landmarks as smooth as possible. The many different camera angles that are available to you was a nice feature as well, mainly due to the fact that there was no overhead view of the track during the race. Having to switch through the different views just help determine upcoming turns on the track was kind of a pain and even then, the different camera angles didn't always help. And it would have been nice to have a visual display of where you were on the track in relation to the other cars, instead of just a numerical one.
One of my favorite components of the game was the British accented announcer who's commentary tells you like it is on the track throughout the race. Sometimes I would run headlong into a wall at 150+ mph just to hear the announcer go crazy about it. Also, the verbal reminder of your pit crew telling you when you need to stop for repairs and fuel really comes in handly. Not only was the announcer nearly flawlessly, but the engine whine, crowd noises, and skidding sounds were also superbly done. Even though I found the engine noise to get a little annoying after many hours of racing, anyone who has ever watched a real race on TV will respect the efforts Psygnosis has made to ensure that the engine sounds were as realistic as possible. And like in WipeOut XL (also made by Psygnosis) the developers took actual rock music and inserted it into the game from artisits like Overdrive, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Very cool!
Replay Value:

- Due to the incredible number of options this game offers the replay value is sky high. If you can do a track in sunny weather, try doing it wet conditions or try driving with the steering and brake assist off. Turn the flags on and see how many times you can brush up against another car without getting black flag and being disqualified. You'll feel like a novice all over again. Formula One can be set up to be super easy for the beginner or be an ultimate test of your driving skills.
Overall Comments: - With such a diversity of skill level available to players and the countless options you have to customize your track and car, Formula One Championship Edition is a must get for any racing fan. Realistic sound, detailed graphics and smooth control. Even though I've never actually raced a Formula One car, after this experience… I feel like I have.

Review ID Number: 510
  Product Details
Review Date: 2001-04-19
Reviewer: Shawn Sardy
Rating: 9 out of 10
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