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FORMULA 1 '97

Developer

Bizarre Creations

Options

Distributer

Psygnosis

1-2 Players

Game Type

Racing

Mem. Card

Review Date

September 1997

Analog Controller

Setting the Scene

Formula 1 broke all records when it was released last year to become the fastest selling title of 1996. Not only was it hailed as the best racer available on any console, it also proved to be the most controversial. Following the initial euphoria created by the superb graphics, multiple options, excellent commentary, smart AI, amusing secrets, not forgetting to mention the abundance of racing circuits and drivers, Formula 1 came in for fair amount of criticism as a few cracks began to appear.
Gameplayer's took to their soap boxes and proclaimed that the game was bugged.
During a full Grand Prix some drivers began to pit-stop after every single lap, while others appeared to have been charged with a Duracell battery and just kept going on... and on... and on, therefore reducing the challenge.
There were other minor irritations concerning the lack of a visible fuel gauge and lap counter, an unpredictable replay mode and the fact that when cars sustained damaged they became easier to control.
Psygnosis responded to these accusations by stating that Formula 1 was always meant to be an Arcade racer with a wide array of simulation elements.
My opinion of these concerns is that although Formula 1 was not perfect, it still stands as the best racer on the Playstation.... that is, until now.

Psygnosis and Bizarre Creations have taken the original game and stretched the gap between Arcade and Grand Prix mode so far apart that an Indy 500 race could easily slot in the middle.

Arcade mode now allows your car to power-slide around the corners, while collisions will now result in spectacular crashes that will see vehicles upended and sent performing cartwheels down the racing circuit.
Simulation mode will take an age to master with the inclusion of engine fires, axle wear and mechanical failures, while careless drivers will see track marshals raising their flags to disqualify them from the race. Collisions with opponents must now be avoided as the loss of airfoils will greatly reduce the handling of your car making a pit-stop essential and no longer improving your cornering.

In effect Psygnosis have provided us with a Formula 1 racing game that seems to say, 'you asked for it... you got it... now get on with it'.

The build up begins with an opening FMV that shows a F1 car tearing through a street circuit with blinding sun beams flickering over the paintwork backed by a haunting orchestration that builds to a crescendo. Short but effective.

Genre

Need I explain?
All 17 racing circuits that make up the 1997 Grand Prix season are present and accounted for plus one bonus track. This is due to safety regulation work being carried out at Estoril, Portugal, therefore an alternative venue, which has not held a GP since 1994, has been included and is one of the 'never seen before' tracks, Jerez in Southern Spain. Other new tracks are Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia and the A-1 Ring in Austria.

The '94, '95 World Champion Michael Schumacher returns behind the wheel of the Ferrari, while last years champion Damon Hill seeks his 22nd GP win in the Arrows Yamaha. Jacques Villeneuve is conspicuous by his absence and is named as 'the Canadian' or 'the No.1 driver' for last seasons winning constructor, Williams Renault. Following a poor performance in this years Melbourne GP, the Lola Ford team has pulled out of the competition for financial reasons and is reflected by their omission from F1 '97, leaving only 22 drivers to compete.

Formula 1 '97 is compatible with the new Sony Analog joypad and will work with the Mad Catz steering wheel for both modes of play. The two modes are Arcade and Grand Prix which could easily have been released as separate games, therefore I will treat them as such.

Arcade Mode (click here)
Grand Prix Mode (click here)

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