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.
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.
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.
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