Formula 1 Championship Edition
That Ph.D. in water physics came in handy for whomever programmed the windshield splatter here. The more you punch the gas, the more dynamic the droplets of H20 look, creating an effect scientists have labeled "really damn cool." The rain streaks, it evaporates, but mostly, it mesmerizes you just long enough for you to collide your car against a wall. Oops.
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Psygnosis' Formula 1 established itself as a rock-solid racing game catering to racing sim fans with its no-frills, realistic look and tight, unforgiving gameplay. What has Psygnosis done to top itself for its sequel Formula 1: Championship Edition?
For starters, they kept the same game engine and overall look (which is a very good thing). Second, they answered the needs of players by adding important elements the first edition sorely lacked.
The list of changes between the original F-1 and this one is long. Most important is the addition of a Two-player Split-screen Racing Mode (it's practically a sin not to have this in a racing game). F-1's graphics have been upgraded with more realtime light-sourcing effects and a couple more in-game cameras have been added (behind the front wheels and in the driver's seat itself).
In an attempt to spice up the game's fun, power-sliding is now possible in Arcade Mode. Throwing out the back end of an F-1 car is not a normal driving tactic, but makes for interesting racing. Also along those lines, chaotic collisions complete with fire and smoke effects are a much welcomed addition. While the wrecks aren't massive, flip-overs are convincing enough to make you want to avoid hitting other cars.
F-1:CE is shaping up to be an in-depth Formula 1 racing simulation with an arcade touch to cover all the bases. Let's hope they keep it that way.
- MANUFACTURER - Psygnosis
- THEME - Racing
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
It must be the official year of the console game sequel—it seems like every other game on the shelves is a follow-up to a game (successful or not) from last year. Today's game is Formula 1 Championship Edition, the sequel to last year's Formula 1. The difference, though, is Formula 1 C.E. isn't a run-of-the-mill sequel. It's a Formula 1 fan's dream.
You have different types of racing, 22 different drivers, 17 different tracks, and some serious car-customization options. This game really picks up where the original left off, improving the graphics, AI, crashes, and the new two player split-screen mode.
This is what a racing sim is all about. I prefer arcade style racing, but I know that there are plenty of sim fans out there, and Formula 1 C.E. may be exactly what you have been waiting for. The game does offer an Arcade mode for those of us who want to jump right on the track and get to racing. Plus, it offers a Grand Prix mode that lets the die-hard sim fans tweak every nut and bolt on the car to their liking.
Since I prefer arcade racing over the simulations, the first place I went was to the Arcade mode. I did not want to be bogged down with options or selections. I just wanted to race. So after selecting the Arcade mode, you are taken to a screen that lets you choose the circuit. You have a total of three circuits to choose from, in three difficulty classes. The easy tracks had more straight-aways and gradual corners where the medium and hard circuits featured more twists and turns. I decided to take the wimpy route and go for the easy circuit, and was thrust directly to the starting line. Since I had played the original title, I felt comfortable with the controls. The first thing I noticed was the cars still had the same sound from the engines which was a good replication of a Formula 1 car. Then the race started. I immediately cycled through the different views to find the one I liked best. You have a number of options that range from a top down view to a first person view. All was well so far. Next, I encountered my first turn. Let off the gas a little and press the brake. No problem. I finished in 3rd place on the race.
After finishing in third on that track, I moved on to the next track in the circuit. If you complete the race in the top six, you can move on to the next track in the circuit and you are awarded points depending on your finishing position. After you complete all five tracks in the top 6 finishers, you are awarded a total score. If your total score is high enough, you will open up a mini-circuit of three tracks. I really enjoyed this part of the game. This was quite challenging and although I would not quite classify it as arcade racing in the vein of Grand Tour Racing '98, it was still fairly simple and fun to play.
After playing the arcade mode for a few hours, I decided that I was good enough to start a Grand Prix. You have your choice of running a practice race to qualify for your starting position, or run a season which is made up of 18 different races scattered across the globe. Hell, I was kicking butt at the arcade mode, so why not jump directly into the season? Bad move.
Before I even begin to discuss why this was such a bad idea, let's talk about what you are in for before the race even begins. Like I said, this is the simulation mode and no expense was spared. You have options for just about anything and everything you could possible imagine. You can adjust your transmission, tires, tire compound, suspension, brakes, brake bias, front and rear down force, and fuel load (whew!). That is a lot of stuff for your average Joe (or Mark, in this case) to be screwing with. I don't mind that the option to tweak this stuff is there, I just wish you had a better idea or indication of what the effects will be. I would have liked to have seen a graph that shows all of the characteristics of the car. As you make adjustments, the graph could have added or subtracted from the areas that you effect. This would have helped morons like myself understand exactly what effect I produce on the car when I crank my down force up and make my brakes smaller. Instead, you are forced to race and see the effects on the fly. If you don't like them, too bad.
After making like I knew what I was doing in the car shop, I headed out to the track. My fine-tuned machine (or so I thought) was ready to go. There I was sitting at the starting line and then it happened. The one thing that was missing from the original game and the Arcade mode of this game—the announcer from Hell. I had hoped they would have done away with this guy and his non-relevant comments, but no, he started blabbing. Ok, they must have made him not so annoying this time around right? Wrong again. He is spitting out more useless information than ever. For instance, when I smashed into a wall he would give the insightful comment "That's a Ferrari!" or "There must be something wrong, he is slowing down." Gee thanks. You do have the option of shutting the guy up, but I really don't understand why he is so bad to begin with.
After I shuddered at the sound of the announcer's voice, it was time to race. 3-2-1 and it was go time. I blasted sown the straight-away, got tangled up in the pack of cars, and already had my pit crew telling me that they were ready for me to come in so they could fix the damage. That was a cool feature. Anyway, I got my car back under control and blasted down the straightaway. The first turn was rapidly approaching so I pushed the D-Pad and ... my car didn't turn much. I slammed on my brakes, but because the car was off the road, they were ineffective and I got to meet the barrier head-on. Why didn't I turn? I managed to get back on the road after spinning out 30 times. Off I went down the road again. Until I hit the next corner. Then the next and the next. Finally, I remember that the original had a steering and braking assistance setting. Apparently, it defaults to On in Arcade mode, and Off in Grand Prix. It was almost impossible to steer through the corners without the assistance on. I went back to the shop to tweak my settings to compensate for this, but had no luck. It almost came down to the point that I could not race competitively on the harder tracks. I don't mind having a difference in handling, but this was a bit overdone.
The graphics looked a lot like the original game. This is not a bad thing because the original title had decent graphics. However, I was hopping for a little more. The backgrounds had a draw-in and pop-up problem that was pretty noticeable. All of the different racing angles in Formula 1 C.E. should give everyone a view that fits their racing preference.
This game should please the die-hard racing sim fans out there that love to customize every aspect of the racing. For people who prefer arcade-style racing, you will still like the Arcade mode, but probably not be too excited about the Grand Prix. I think this was a great idea to include both styles so you will appeal to a broader market. Although this is a good game, I think I will stick to the arcade-style racers.