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I began my Formula One 2003 career with a "quick race" at Monza - I'll warn you now, if you're a newcomer to console F1 games, expect to lose! I expected more, and after three nasty encounters with the barriers, I realised just how bad a 'racer' I really am. However with traction control and practice, you slowly get to the same level as the AI opponents. The game itself runs at a spectacularly smooth framerate, and there's little slow-down in multi-player or at the starting grid. Wet racing looks wonderful, but the spray could be a little refined. owever, cockpit cameras get a good spattering of water droplets, a neat little touch!
The game is split into one player and multiplayer modes, and each of these into arcade and simulation. Arcade is relatively straightforward - race, and enjoy yourself. Sim is a little tougher... hook one wheel on the grass and you'll spin. Hit a rival and be prepared to lose a wheel. Make mistakes and suffer. It really is quite punishing, but that's half the fun! Practice does make perfect! Another lovely innovation alongside the many game modes available is the "Spectator" mode. Choose a weather condition, an AI skill level, a track, and the grid, and watch a 50%-length race as if it were real. Maybe a tad pointless, but good to learn the tracks and opponents. It shows off the sweet visuals too!
In all, a very good game. There are three main problems I'd emphasise though:
* The views, notably the Chase-type cameras, are a little poor - they're too close to the gearbox and a little low-set, but they work. Use the helmet camera if you can, I find that the best.
* The learning curve is a little tough. "Easy" AI still drive you onto the grass and set blistering lap times. Choose one of the top 4 teams if you want to do a Schumi.
* The controls aren't quite pick up and play. You should really use the analogue sticks for the best car control, and LEARN THE TRACKS first!
But overall, a solid game packed with features and options. If you own no F1 game, buy it. If you do, consider the few little drawbacks first.
4/5. A good buy.
Well...lets get the cons out of the way first......
The commentary does not run with the race itself (when pit-to car radio provides a heated string of information)- so Martin Brundle and Mr Allen only feature in the 'Spectator View". The car on car collision damage is still woefully inadequate, there are no safety cars (as in earlier PS1 series), and the flag system is incomplete (surely adding a green flag after the yellow to confirm that overtaking can once again be resumed isn't too much to ask?!). The replays are very useful, but just adequate, and the tv style graphics are totally absent - such as the F1 ident, and timings - replaced by uninspiring text. I'm yet to find any personel - a few in the pits would have been great as there is so much attention to detail otherwise.
The pros, however are a different story....
The handling is excellent or difficult (if you want it to be) in that it is so responsive - rumble strip hopping around chicanes is not advisable any more- as the loading of the suspension means that the car can lose traction then suddenly 'bite' when driven carelessly - aquaplaning into the kitty litter (I've managed to spin 180 degrees off of the startline also!) The in-cockpit view actually relays the experience of being connected witht the car and track, right down to skewed horizon through fast turns, and a sense of being dwarfed by normal size barriers etc... and the front end lifting slightly when 'monstering the curbs' as Mr Brundle would say! With comprehensive set ups, and steering wheel (joypad) controlled traction and brake bias selection whilst racing -there is never a second of calm! The backgrounds, though not 100% authentic are awesome - much better than GT3 - and details in overhanging trees or textures on wooden starting gantries, lie of the land, not to mention the beautiful opponent cars flow, pop-up and frame-rate drop free. Adding rear wing failures - and other problems into the equation adds up to a totally immersive experience and a pleasure to drive. You won't know where that sector time was lost - but you'll keep pushing until the car steps out on you, then you'll spend the time it takes to reload the race weekend regretting such a simple mistake....trust me!
The graphics are so good, they even look real.
Damage, is the best there is for a long time in console years. Yeah yeah, it may be a bit crappy for you total obsessive retards who will only buy a game if it is absolutley perfect. But I find it good.
The tyres, the tred, the makers have got that almost spot on, I can't even believe it myself when I got it!
Pit stops are very cool
Anyway, this game is great, I would reconmend it for anyone who likes F1 and any other racing, because you finally feel part of the team.
Buy it, it is worth it!
In simulation mode, this game is great fun. Read more
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