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The PSOne has seen it\'s fair share of Formula 1 games in its history. Some years ago we had the original and bug ridden \'Formula 1\'. This was then followed up by the definitive \'F1 97\', and then things took a turn for the worst when \'F1 98\' came out. Recently we\'ve had \'F1 99\' and the numerous but easily forgotten \'un-official\' games. Formula 1 2001 is the latest edition to this increasingly long list, will it make the grade? We\'re about to find out...
As you\'d expect from any F1 game worth it\'s salt, all of the drivers, teams and circuits are present and correct. Even Jack Villeneuve makes an appearance! (Remember the F1 97 gaff?) On the circuits, everything seems to be pretty much in the right place, and all the usual sponsor\'s advertising panels are displayed. Tobacco sponsorship is notable by its absence though, well done Sony.
All the usual game modes are available. Grand Prix mode allows you to participate in a Single race, take part in the Championship or Time Trial against the clock. Arcade mode is also available, and features a new and innovative method of play. In most F1 games Arcade mode is usually just a single race with simplified handling characteristics. Not so here ! Start by buying a car (all be it a rather slow one…), and then by racing and finishing in the points, prize money is won. This can then be used to upgrade the car\'s characteristics, or once enough money has been won, a new and more powerful car can be purchased. Although this method of play is different to previous games, it is unlikely to be of much interest to the hardcore F1 fans, but younger players may enjoy it.
Anyway, enough of this Arcade nonsense, Grand Prix is what we\'ve really bought the game for. A typical race weekend starts with a Practice Session, followed by a Qualifying Session, and then finally the Race itself. The Practice and Qualifying Sessions allow the car to be tuned for maximum performance, but changing these options seems to make little real difference. Even with all the driving aids turned off, including ABS and Traction Control, the cars still stick to the track like glue, making for much easier driving than in other games. This is in contrast to the PS2 version of this game, where the driving model is hyper realistic, bordering on the un-driveable! The options have also been simplified, Suspension settings being for example, Hard, Medium or Soft, not a percentage in sight. Some tuning options also appear to be entirely missing! No more tweaking the numbers a bit to scrape a few hundredths off a lap time...
Graphically F1 2001 is quite a \'dark\' game, with grey bland textures and yet bright harsh colours. But listen to this, and listen very carefully. The game has NO POP UP and there was very little slow-down during busier moments. However the game is no beauty and certainly not the best looking F1 game around. There are some nice touches though, including smoking & dusty tyres, weather effects, an excellent TV helicopter, and the driver\'s thumbs that actually move as you change gear! I also had difficulty selecting an ideal driving position, since the in-car view is much too low making corners a nightmare, and I\'ve never got on with outside car views, though these were infinitely more playable. A nose cone view is sadly lacking. Damage to the cars has been included, but I found the cars to be practically indestructible, and no actual parts ever fell off the car.
One particularly nice feature is the instant replay. This allows you to view a snippet of the last 10 or so seconds of the race. A handy feature for replaying those nasty crashes, or gloating to your mate about that rather smart overtake you\'ve just pulled off. Unfortunately a full replay of the race is not available.
Commentary has been provided by the usual Mr. Walker and Mr. Brundle, and is excellent. Martin Brundle occasionally chips in with interesting information about Formula 1, and Murray does the usual And he\'s hit the wall... again! routine. Luckily they can both be turned off when they start to get on your nerves. Sound effects too are very good, with engine sounds, crowd cheering and other effects all top notch. There is even a TV helicopter than follows you around the circuit, rotor blades humming above.
However, even with it\'s excellent sound effects, pop-up free graphics and innovative Arcade mode, Formula 1 2001 fails to make a real impact. Hardcore fans will be disappointed by the simplified driving model, and tuning options. Less experienced or younger gamers may enjoy the game more.
· All of the latest Drivers, Teams and Tracks from the 2001 Formula 1 season
· Innovative Arcade Mode with the ability to upgrade, and purchase new cars by winning races
· Fast, \'Pop Up\' free graphics
· In game commentary supplied by TV\'s Murray Walker and Martin Brundle
· Ability to tune and tweak the cars to get the maximum performance from them
· Grand Prix mode with Championship, Single Race and Challenge options
· Split screen two player mode against a full grid
2 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
Up to 2 Players (without Multi-tap)
2 way split screen multi-player option
Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility
REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:
We promise that we have fully played 'Formula One 2001' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)
00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.
60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.
70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.
80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.
A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.
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