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August 2, 2005
Formula One 2005 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
30/6/2005SonySCEE1-2, 10 GAdjustable
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
348KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneYes

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Following Alonso in the replay.
Looking at the current generation one of the biggest disappointments has been the poor showings of Sony's Formula One titles. During the PSOne days games based on the world’s greatest motor sport were highly regarded for their technical accomplishments as well as their unfaltering gameplay. Unfortunately the exact opposite could be said about the PS2 titles. They look average, sound average but most depressingly, play average. That was until now. Formula One 2005 was a game that we had quite low expectations for, especially after last years title but you know what, Sony have turned the corner with this game. This is a much more polished and accomplished title then we were expecting.

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Note the racing line assistance.
As you would expect this game allows for single races however the bulk of your time will be spent in the career mode. After starting out as a rookie driver (and if you want using the Eye Toy to create a Digimask profile so your character even looks like yourself) its onto the test track to try out for some of the lesser Formula One teams. After that you're into the seasons. Race weekends are highly detailed with all the practice sessions available, the two qualifying sessions and the race. What is really cool is that even when in the pits during the practice sessions the clock counts down as in real life. As you progress through your career new and better opportunities open up and the game even throws some unlockable content in the mix such as improved equipment or historic cars. Also new to the series are the interactive pit stops, sounds exciting but it's little more then having to press the buttons as soon as they appear on the screen. Basic, but better then nothing I guess.

While the game has all the options you could even need the actual racing isn't left behind either. The cars have a wonderful sense of speed and react exactly as you would expect, clip another car or road edge and your car can end up on two wheels, end up in the dirt and it slows down considerbly and so on. Those of you with steering wheels will be pleased to hear that this game supports most major steering wheels so you'll be set. Fortunately even the Dual Shock 2 controller does a solid job of controlling the cars.

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Graphics look fairly neat.
The greatest asset to Formula One 2005, unlike last years title, is the ability to turn on and off a large number of driving aides taking it from virtually an arcade styled bash and crash race to full on simulation which will have even hardcore racing fans stretching their concentration to make it to the end of the race - let alone finish on the podium. The driving aides include things such as traction control, braking assist, steering assist, automatic gearbox, spin recovery which points your in the right direction should you spin out as well as the very handy (for beginners especially) virtual racing line which not only shows where you should be on the track but also when you should be accelerating, coasting or breaking with green, orange or red colourings. As well as these driving aides you can set the length of the race, scale the fuel usage and even set the speed of the opposing cars.

What is certain to grab the attention of many gamers is this years inclusion of a 10-player online mode. This is a vast improvement over the limited online options (ghost car) of the 2004 game. While you are restricted to using the 50Hz mode the racing is intense and certainly plenty of fun. If anything this game will serve as a great test bed for Sony's upcoming PS3 Formula One title including online racing for the entire grid.

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Not the most exciting screenshot.
The biggest issue we had with this game is the AI which still feels like the cars are following set paths, I guess the real drivers do in real life as well, but it would be nice to see a couple more mistakes, or a bit more aggression in some of the drivers.

Graphics in this game are a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand the cars look wonderful and move around the track with such grace and style. The Heads Up Display (HUD) used in the game while racing is brilliant showing tyre wear, fuel, fastest and last lap times, current lap times, current sector time, track layout, engine revs, laps, position, car speed and even driving assists being used. You would think that it makes the screen cluttered and annoyingly busy, but it's not. In fact it's one of the best HUD's ever seen in a racing game. Kudos to Sony for that. Menu presentation is also quite impressive, although the text is incredibly hard to read on a small TV. On the other hand the backgrounds still need quite a bit more work, some are great, but some are also extremely dull and bland. Perhaps that’s a result of the developers ensuring game maintains a rock steady frame rate - a price that I can settle for.

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The HUD is impressive.
The sound is Formula One 2005's weakest aspect by far. The engine noises are adequate but seem to lack the grunt you would expect from a massive engine. What really disappoints is the commentary and pit crew chatter. It sounds little better then the commentary we were hearing several years ago and is no where near the level we've come to expect from sports titles these days. To add insult to injury we can not for the life of us get the commentary or pit crew chatter to work in career mode!

While it's not the greatest racing game in the Playstation 2 catalogue (that candle is still held by Gran Turismo 4) it is a big return to form for Sony's Formula One series. The gameplay can be tweaked from full on arcade, or full on simulation and the online gameplay, digimask and audio visuals combine to make this a very enjoyable title.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSGraphics range from very good in places to needing some more work.
SOUNDReally disappointing. Commentary is so 1990's, engines are average.
GAMEPLAYIf you like arcade thrills your covered; simulation, your covered too.
VALUEAll the tracks and teams, 10-players online. What more do you want?
OVERALLFormula One 2005 isn't the greatest game on PS2, hell the graphics and audio still need some work, but on a gameplay level Formula One 2005 is the real deal. From arcade to full-on simulation this game has you covered. Certainly one which race fans should consider adding to their collection.

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