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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Ubi Soft

 

Developer

Video Systems

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q2 2001

 

 

- More options than you can shake a stick at

- Crash damage!

- Achieves a sense of speed

- Realistic physics and weather

- 16 different courses

- 22 drivers

- Solid graphics and sound

- Excellent driver AI

- Robust instant replay options

- True to Formula 1 racing

- Teaches that F1 racing isnít as easy as it looks

 

 

- Youíll get dizzy if you play with full realism

- Easy to get stuck on walls

- Multiplayer can grate

- Uses 1999 stats

 

 

Review: Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (Playstation 2)

Review: Ridge Racer V (Playstation 2)

Review: Project Gotham Racing (Xbox)

 

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F1 Racing Championship

Score: 9.4 / 10

 

WHEEEEE! That sums up F1 Racing Championship (F1RC) from Ubi Soft and Video System. I can think of no other recent game that lets gamers travel to Montreal and drive faster (and more recklessly) than their cab drivers then watch it again and again from a variety of angles in replay mode. Whether you want to simply cause a massive pile-up of really expensive cars or go on the circuit and test your metal against some of the best racers in the world complete with visits to the garage, F1RC fits the bill.

 

        

F1RC exhibits a tremendous amount of speed, so much so that, depending on your view, youíll miss more than a few turns. You can race from directly behind the wheel or outside from about 10í away Ė and all points in between. There are so many perspectives youíll lose track of how many there actually are. No matter which view is chosen thereís always the feeling of speed. Granted, some of the views are typical TV angles and

make driving an exercise in spatial guess work Ė just how are you supposed to drive while looking at the carís hood? Itís not until you enter the replay mode that youíll appreciate all the available options. Itís during these times at the "post production" phase (the instant replay mode) that you really have time to enjoy the graphics. F1RC looks great Ė the car models, tracks (modeled using GPS coordinates and spanning the globe, from Monaco to Budapest to Montreal), smoke, and weather effects are terrific. Depending on your rig, you may want to turn the detail settings 

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down slightly but if you can, keep everything turned all the way up. This is with the understanding that youíre not playing on-line. Racing against other people on-line can throw things into a bit of a slideshow depending on your connection.

 

The single-player game is good enough that you probably wonít miss the multiplayer if you bypass it. There are many different racing options Ė the most technical and arduous being the 

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Championship circuit. It follows F1 racing faithfully and as such you can expect to do a lot of warm-up laps and making adjustments to your car in the garage. The garage menu is easy to navigate and making the tweaks is a snap. But consider reading the manual before you start going too crazy so you know just what youíre doing. Youíve got to take several factors into consideration such as weather when deciding tire pressure, etc.

The weather and physics models are realistic Ė although both can be altered. Trying to drive with the realism pumped up youíll find yourself spinning out at just about every corner if even a small mistake is made Ė and some of the tracks have many, many corners. Some of them on hills. Factor in eerily smart / fallible AI drivers in front and behind you, doing their best to screw you up or at least make you eat dust, and youíll understand the value of practice. The game defaults to "no damage" meaning you can crash into walls at 300 km/h without a scratch. Itís way more fun (and realistic) to turn this option all the way up and watch bits fly off after taking a corner just a little too tightly or a wheel being fired across the track as you create yet another big pile-up. Even when youíre off the track in the gravel or grass the physics never ease up. Be warned that itís at these times you become at risk for becoming stopped by a wall. If youíre head-on to the wall thereís no way to get back on the track Ė realism means no reverse! Whenever this happens there seems to be no recourse (unless Iím missing something) other than to restart or retire. Itís not so bad when youíre completing a single race or time trial but when youíre halfway through 44 laps and youíre fighting for top spot in the overall standings itís enough to give you conniptions.

The emphasis on realism extends to control. Playing via the keyboard is straightforward and the keys are laid out in a logical manner, but using a wheel and pedals brings you that much closer to having an experience rather than just playing a game.

F1 Racing Championship is what you could call a "gateway" game. Itís friendly enough for first time players, but itís got all the things to keep you playing and become a hardcore racer. (Itís even got options to show you the best trajectory and supply driving tips.) But even the hardcore simmer will find F1RC a challenge and realistic. Good fun.

- Omni

 

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