Formula One Championship Edition Review
Formula One racing games have always appealed to a small group of hardcore fans. With learning curves the size of Everest and races that could be measured in hours instead of minutes, F1 is decidedly not for everyone. Formula One Championship Edition is the first F1 game that I know of that has taken steps to bring the sport to a larger portion of the gameplaying public. They may be baby steps, but they are steps in the right direction nonetheless.
Iím sure that many first time F1 racing gamers found themselves fishtailing all over the grass infield while their competitors continued to lap them. Many of these gamers certainly gave up at this point, too frustrated by the touchy handling of the powerful F1 cars and the unforgiving nature of F1 sims. Formula One attempts to alleviate some of this frustration and keep gamers in the race by allowing players to tone down a lot of the realism until they can get a feel for the racing. The game allows you to turn off collision damage turning bumps with other cars into love taps, use automatic transmissions, tone down the physics model, and more. One of the most important of these aids is an optional racing line that shows you how to maneuver your car through a course. A line is drawn on the track showing you where your car should be on the track at all times. Furthermore the line is color-coded to indicate when and where you should be accelerating, coasting, and braking. This is a huge help to beginners and will help them at least stay competitive in their first races. Of course the game allows you to turn off all of these assists and make the game a full F1 racing sim that will challenge fans of the genre.
Formula One lets you jump into a single race in which you pick the track and length of the race. Before racing youíll need to select a racing team and driver from the extensive list available in the game, but pay attention to your selection. The first time I raced I picked a team at random without paying much attention to my selection and then after the race I couldnít tell where I finished. Odds are youíll spend most of your time in the gameís career mode in which you create a driver and then must try out for a racing team and eventually prove yourself worthy of taking the teamís top driver spot. The starting from bottom and working your way up path to glory is rewarding, but itís a long road to take. At first youíll be the teamís test driver, completing laps on an empty track as the engineers fiddle with tuning one part of the car or another. Itís interesting if you have an interest in learning how each modification affects the carís handling and performance, but otherwise it can be a bit tedious to work your way up to the race team roster. Even when you do youíll need to spend time with qualifying laps and such, so the overall effect is that you spend far less time actually racing than you do in other pursuits. This may be fun for the hardcore F1 racing fan, but Iím sure that I speak for the majority of gamers when I say that Iíd like to spend most of my time with a racing game in actual races. The gameís modes could also use a little sprucing up in the interface and presentation departments. Everything in the game is nice, clean, and functional, but not at all exciting. The gameís all business when it comes to presentation when it should be taking the chance to make things more exciting. This game is all about driving the fastest cars in the world against the best competition out there and not about presenting the latest accounting figures in a corporate boardroom.
Formula One supports online racing with up to eleven players with the other half of the cars controlled by AI racers. The AI racers are competent, but it would have been nice to take on a full field of human opponents. It would have also been nice if the game included a skill-based player matching system. It can be frustrating for a beginner to find him or herself lagging way behind a field of skilled players tearing up the track.
Formula One is a next gen title and it shows. The graphics are top-notch with the cars themselves being particularly impressive. Some of the scenery pieces such as grandstands arenít as detailed, but most of the time youíll be going too fast to notice and the game does a great job of conveying speed. The lighting and atmospheric effects are also notable, from the blinding sun to the amazing rain effects.
Formula One is one of the more accessible F1 games out there, although it is still not a game for everyone. If youíre an F1 fan or are just looking for a more realistic racing experience, Formula One Championship Edition is a great way to go.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 78%. Formula One Championship Edition is the most accessible F1 racing game to date.