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July 2003



- Looks great

- A lot of substance

- Great physics



- Will zoom by non-fans

- The more cynical will need a really good reason to shell out the bucks



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F1 Challenge '99 - '02

Score: 8.6 / 10


Besides the ESRB ratings, there should be a FOTG rating, or Fans of the Genre rating. It would go like this: “FP” for first-person shooter, “RTS” for real-time strategy, and so on.  Each lettered rating would be accompanied by a number from 1 to 5, with 1 being playable by anyone with a passing interest in the genre and 5 being for hardcore fans of the genre.  For example, if a game was rated “A-4” you know you’d be playing an Action game that is geared towards people with a high interest in the genre.  In the case of F1 Challenge ‘99 - ‘02 (F1C), it would be given a FOTG rating of R-5 (or Racing-5).  


f1 challenge pc review          f1 challenge pc review


An R-5 rating means F1C won’t be for everyone, but those interested in racing, and F1 in particular, will be in a little place called Racing Heaven.  If you’re just getting into the genre, F1C can seem a little overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have a steering wheel.


Playing a racing game with a keyboard or gamepad is like eating steaming hot Vichyssoise -- it’s just not the way it was intended.  Driving an F1 vehicle requires a lot of precision and the only way to get it is via a good steering wheel.  Although there are a myriad of helpful assists that make driving easier, you’ll still find yourself spinning all over the track if you don’t have the proper inputs.  With all the assists 




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off, don’t even bother racing unless you like watching your car splinter apart as you crunch into walls and opponents.  However, the hardcore racers will gobble it up, especially because each car can be tailored to the track and your driving style. The physics engine is very good at making the race feel “true to life”.


Graphics are about as shiny and polished as they can be, right down to the weather effects.  There are minor touches 


that could have been improved but you won’t find yourself complaining about clipping problems.  There has been much said of the revamped sound of F1C -- namely, that it’s super.  It is, especially if you have the hardware to really make it hum.


f1 challenge pc review          f1 challenge pc review

Since F1C spans 4 years of racing and is an EA game, you get loads of accurate stats, modes of play (like Test Day and Championship), real tracks and more than 30 real-life racers like Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher.  However, don’t count on a four-season career mode -- this is only on the Playstation 2 version.


The AI is unlike anything else I’ve seen in a driving game.  Predictable AI opponents are a dime a dozen for racing games, even with the sim titles of the genre.  At times in R1C it was hard to believe I was facing off against computer controlled opponents.  They’ll drive around you if you wipe out and never seem to react the same way twice to any given situation.  Making an AI faliable while ensuring they won’t make dumb mistakes must have been a tricky balance but EA seems to have pulled it off.


Driving fans, F1 Challenge ‘99 - ‘02 is a great addition to your library.  It has enough depth to keep you interested and the presentation to make sure you don’t tire of it anytime soon.


- Omni

(September 28, 2003)


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