June 1, 2001
Formula One 2001 - Review
|No||Hard||TBA KB||Yes||No||None |
Formula One games have always been popular. Ever since Pole Position hit the arcades back in the 1980's gamers have been hungry for more accurate representations of the worlds premier motor sport. The 16-bit era saw the rise of Monaco GP and it's disappointing sequel, while Sega stunned the arcade world with the first ever polygon game, Virtua Racing. PC owners were kept equally busy with the ultra-realistic Grand Prix Racing from Microprose. Following the launch of the original Playstation, Psygnosis' Formula One was highly anticipated by gamers around the globe. With hits such as Wipeout and Destruction Derby there was plenty of excitement surrounding the Psygnosis published, Bizarre Creations developed title. While the wait until September 1996 was agonising, it was definitely worth it.
|Car texture detail is impressive.|
To say that Formula One was a hit is nothing short of an understatement. The game became the fastest selling Playstation title to date, with over 1 million units sold within 6 months of release. For the first time, consumers could experience a full FIA Formula One World Championship, with all the 1995 drivers, teams and tracks, while their actions in the game were commented upon by none-other than the voice of Formula One himself - Murray Walker. Formula One '97 was soon developed and included the 1997 teams, drivers and courses but included a new 2-player mode, 3D collisions, commentary from Murray Walker and Martin Brundle as well as greatly improved driving models. Two more games followed with equal success and the series has sold 6.5 million units to date. But enough of the history lesson. This is 2001, and Sony have just unleashed Formula One 2001 on the Playstation 2. Does more power mean a better game?
|Spot effects such as dust look hot.|
Developed by Studio Liverpool (formally Psygnosis) at Sony Europe, the game has been delayed slightly from its expected March release. Formula 1 2001 features all the drivers, teams and circuits of the Formula One season. Offering both a true simulation mode, including single races and entire seasons, as well as instantly accessible modes such as the Quick Race and Time Attack there is certainly some variety in the game. It's the Championship Mode however that will grab most of your attention. Playing through the complete season you have the option to participate in practice sessions, qualifying sessions and actual races at each track. It's also possible to fine-tune you car including the type of tyres, essential in wet weather, the wing angles, camber, and much more.
|Trackside detail, simply stunning.|
The power of the Playstation 2 has allowed Studio Liverpool to include some brilliant opposition car AI. The opponents take their own racing lines, have accidents and block your path just as in real life. The developers have in fact used a set of 30 different driving characteristics to individualise each driver. Realistic weather has also been included including sun, rain, and fog and the handling of your cars is instantly affected. Actually controlling the vehicles using the Dual Shock 2 is quite enjoyable with accurate acceleration and braking with steering handled via the left analogue stick. Formula One 2001 is one of those racing games which can be picked up and instantly enjoyed, or divulged over months to learn every nuance of the cars and tracks. The overall detail and accuracy of the title makes you feel like a real racing car driver. But actually winning the races will take some practice, a lot in fact, as one mistake will see your car spinning out of control and into a wall.
|(Semi) realistic collision damage.|
During the races it is possible to receive physical damage to the racing cars. While this only works in some of the game modes, it's a neat addition. Under most circumstances the collisions are accurate and if you lose a wheel you will be forced to retire from the race. Unfortunately, some of the collision detection routines lack accuracy. At one point I turned my car around to drive the track in reverse. When I slammed head first into another car the only damage was to the front wing and I continued driving. Surely both cars (and drivers) would have met with a tragic end.
One great bonus with F1 2001 is the addition of a competition from Sony. By entering the Time Attack Challenge mode at The Spa Race course you are give a code to enter at www.scee.com/f1 which records your fastest times. The fastest time in each State will go to a competition be become the best in Australia. The best in Australia will then be flown to America to compete against the best in the world. Start practicing.|
The second great bonus with the game is a DVD that has a full summary of the 2000 Formula One season. The disc is impressive in that you can switch between viewpoints (main race, telemetry, pits etc) while watching with each race coverage lasting around 8-10 minutes. It's a nice bonus that would sell for $40 if on it's own. Be quick though, as the offer is limited.
One of the most impressive aspects of Formula One 2001 is the stunning visuals with extremely accurate modelling of both tracks and cars. The developers have spent years developing Playstation Formula One titles which has given them an intimate knowledge of the tracks. The game runs at a blistering 60fps and has a real sense of speed. The cars themselves are detailed with wonderful texturing and even include the smallest puffs of smoke and dust as you veer off the track. This would have to be one of the most visually impressive racing games on the Playstation 2, until Gran Turismo 3 comes out at least.
While the developers have gone to great lengths to record the engine sounds for each team there still seems to be a distinct lack of noise in the vehicles. Go to a real Formula One race and you will hear the popping as your engine backfires and the squealing of tyres as the turn the corners. These little details are present, but just don't seem as realistic as you would expect. Still, it's no worse then any other racing games. Unfortunately, the commentary in Formula One 2001 is quite disappointing. Murray Walker remains silent for much of the races unless something exciting happens, definitely not TV quality. Why can't the developers allow the commentary to mention what is happening to other cars on the track, as well as your own? Chatter from the pit crew is equally disappointing. More car data and instructions would have been most welcome, if only for cosmetic reasons.
|In the pack at over 110mph.|
There is little wonder why Sony are so excited about Formula One 2001, it's a ripper game. Formula One, or any racing game fans for that matter, are bound to be impressed by the visuals, and gameplay, of this title. With the option to tweak your vehicle to improve its performance and impressive computer AI there is little doubt that this is one of the best Formula One racing games ever. Add in the bonus of a great competition (see Exciting Bonus Box above), as well as polished gameplay there is no doubt that this game will continue the deserving success of the PSOne series.
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