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September 30, 2004
Formula One 2003 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
370KBDolby PLYesNoNoneNo

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Racing down the straight.
Yeah, sporting games, the marvel of them. Once a year, developers around the globe realise that it's nearing time for them to simply rehash their seemingly mediocre sports titles. From your FIFA's to your Madden's, they're all losing their way. But thankfully Sony have gone to the effort to assure fans that this year's (which is really last year's now - Dave) edition of the Formula One series isn't like anything seen before. With a few minor tweaks, they've transformed what could have been a repetitive wreck, into a driving simulation like I can't describe.

I doubt anyone really can appreciate the realistic handling of Formula One 2003, as I highly doubt readers of this review have ever driven a real-life in person formula one vehicle, but this literally is as close to the real thing as humanly possible. And if you haven't yet attempted playing this game seriously, I'd recommend it, just to see, and appreciate, how the handling of one of these specialised vehicles really does handle, it's nothing less than amazing.

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The replay mode.
As with any other sporting game, there is very little, or no, plot to be seen. Instead, the developers have merely inserted various game modes, including Arcade, Time Trial, Race Weekend and of course, the highly coveted World Championship. But apart from them being the only means of gameplay, Sony have implemented them to assure that gamers enjoy themselves thoroughly whilst experiencing them. And luckily, because this game needed to be fun to succeed.

Each of those game modes offers their own slice of innovative gaming, and more information on that, now. The Arcade Mode is the same old normal story. It plays exactly like an arcade game, and handles near enough to what a arcade racer would, who'da thunk it? The modes is designed mainly for those not willing to go the full nine yards and put blood, sweat and tears into the Championship mode, but there is nothing wrong with that. Right?

Time Trial is pretty much self-explanatory, you choose your driver, you choose your track, and then you set out to record the fastest time ever produced in the history of Formula One racing, on your chosen course. And once you've finished tooling about setting records, maybe you'll have the balls to put it to test on the track against the professionals, where it all counts towards something.

Race Weekend is exactly what it's called. You simply enter the mode, and you're placed into the scenario of race weekend, where you must practice, qualify, set up your ride, and then of course, race for the points. This can be entertaining at first, but it's not as rewarding as winning in the World Championship mode, but enjoyable, nonetheless, just to get used to the difficulty of the tracks coming ahead in your season.

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The water effects rock.
And World Championship mode, the highest stage, if there is a time to win, it's during this mode. But bare in mind, this mode does tend to be unbelievably difficult. But I suppose that is expected, considering if you come first in the table at the end of the racing season, you're crowned the World Champion of Formula One.

As far as how the game handles in general, the cars are very sensitive and difficult to control, but that just adds to the overall difficulty of the title. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, in the long run, this just makes it the most realistic formula one game in the market, today. And who better to take the accolade than Sony. But really, this is one tough nut, and any F1 fanatic daring enough to tackle this title, has my complete respect, because I barely had the stones to play out the season. Keep in mind, I came second last, but you'd expect that from a pathetic rookie, eh?

As far as flaws within this amazing title, I am glad to admit there is very few, if none. I mean, there were absolutely none that I noticed, but I'm sure if one probed through the game for weeks, they'd be bound to find something? But luckily, I found nothing that blinded me and forced me to be disgusted, so that's a good sign.

Graphically, Formula One 2003 is relatively impressive. Even though I'd expect so much more from SCEE, being the masterminds behind such racing titles as Gran Turismo and World Rally Championship, but heck, I guess they were too strung up creating those to pay enough attention to make this as gorgeous as I'd expect. But this game is beautiful, don't get me wrong. The vehicles are not only near exact replicas of their real-life counterpart vehicles, they also handle like them, what more could a fan want? Oh, what's that? A full roster of real-life drivers at your disposal, well I'm glad to say you also have that, and they too look great, from Michael Schumacher to Australia's own Mark Webber, all of them replicating their namesakes.

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Is that Monaco?
And the tracks are definitely the most rewarding feature as far as graphics come. Because I don't think you'll ever see another formula one game with as realistic tracks as this, from Melbourne to Japan, they're all present, aside from the new Monaco track, but that's excusable. All the graphics are sound, I'll admit, but within seconds it can go from gorgeous to seemingly bland, but this can be ignored if you're busy enough concentrating on the track.

Sound, however, is kind of a letdown in this title, due to it not being much of an improvement from the last edition. The cars don't really run as smoothly as they probably could, they seemingly echo rather the run smoothly, as they most probably should. The highlights as far as sound goes is the helpful chattering coming from the pit crew, that can be enough to hold you over until the race is over, but generally, this game doesn't do much for the ears. You'd be better off muting your television and putting on some Metallica or something, to get you in the racing mood.

As far as this being a game you must have, I must say this isn't essential for all PlayStation 2 collections. I mean, if you either enjoy racing games, or formula one, or possibly even painfully difficult games, Formula One 2003 would definitely be a game you need. But anyone else, I'd recommend renting before purchasing it with your hard-earned coins. But as far as Formula One games go... What more could an avid Formula One fan want? Really?

Review By: Brodie Gibbons

GRAPHICSSolid, but some minor repetitive glitches within the graphical system can be a sight for sore eyes, but I must say, throughout my time playing, I never was really uneased whilst playing it. Life-like drivers, cars and tracks, the works, baby!
SOUNDA sorry letdown, chirping cars, bland pit crew who really provide no help, and are repetitive. The sound sadly disappointed me.
GAMEPLAYIt's hard to explain how difficult this game is, but it makes up for it with a solid season mode that keeps me glued to the controller. Solid.
VALUEEnormous value for F1 fans, due to this being simply the best Formula One game on a gaming console at the moment. But for other genre fans, I'd say there is a lack of inspiration to play this game, unless you're taking a break from classics like Ico, Rez, or Jak and Daxter...
OVERALLThe ideal video game for hardcore Formula One fans, or fans of driving games in general. With a solid season mode, and consistently stunning graphics, this game is only let down by it's replay value and horrific sound effects. This could have been so much more, but unfortunately didn't live up to what I expected from Sony.

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