Gentlemen, start your Dreamcasts!
Auto racing has got to be one of the best sports on the planet. I love how anyone can participate, regardless of age or even physical ability. Ever since I got my first Power Wheels type F1 car all those years ago, I've been a big fan.
Video System's F1 World Grand Prix brings back a ton of wonderful racing memories. Ah yes, the thrills of speed along with the smell of burnt rubber and asphalt. So just how real is F1? Let's hop into the driver's seat and take a test spin, shall we?
Even before the starting light appears, you'll notice the finely detailed world. Video System obviously took their time in developing this officially licenced F1 game. Cars have the appropriate sponsorship logos, fans are cheering in the stands, and Tag Heuer is keeping the official time. You've got the whole cast and crew of the 1998 season along with each of the official tracks. The same familiar race teams are also back, including Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams. I can't believe how much detail is soaked into F1.
When I say every minor detail is in the game, I mean everything. There is actually an option that allows you to play out all of the events from the 1998 season. Wonder what the weather was like on the day of the first race? Wonder no more. How did your favorite driver place in the fourth round of racing? Let's find out. Did anyone crash? If it happened back then, it'll happen in the game.
Graphical detail is also packed into F1. Run over the grass and it'll get stuck in your tires. Pass through sand or gravel and a dust cloud arises. It would have been cool if bugs actually splattered on your helmet, but I guess bug lovers everywhere would have been up in arms. In all, Video System did a fantastic job filling in every detail of the F1 racing world.
So the game is pretty, but how does it handle? As fans of race games everywhere well know, great graphics don't make a great game. Fortunately, F1 is a great game with great graphics. The control of each car has been designed to mimic the actual performance of F1 cars. This makes for an excellent racing sim experience.
Some gamers might get frustrated with this, however, since you won't be able to get away with doing 175 mph in a 90-degree turn. I guess those people will just have to really learn how to drive.
Speaking of doing 175 mph in a 90-degree turn, Video System has also included the ability to damage your car. In the crash tests I performed (very fun, I should note), not much visual damage occurred. I hit a wall head-on going over 100 mph and I didn't explode. Darn. Kids, don't try that at home.
However, that crash did manage to damage my front wing. The tires were a bit wobbly, and performance was definitely affected. Oh well, I guess exploding F1 cars are a little too real.
If you're worried that an exact replica of the '98 season will be boring, fear not. Video System packed in a ton of options to let you create your own ultimate racing season. The performance of each car can be tweaked to create your dream racer. Different types of tires can be selected according to the surface conditions of the track. Wings, brakes, steering, and gear ratio can all be modified. Players are even given the supernatural ability to control the weather. During the actual race, players can choose between five different camera angles. Even the replays allow total control of the cameras, leading to a very cinematic experience.
On the audio side, F1 delivers some quality goods. Engine sounds are right on and even the pit crew sounds are authentic. Background music isn't bad and keeps right up with the game's frantic pace. Even the crowd noises are done well, as the crowd actually responds to the performance of the player.
The only real problem with F1 is the small instances of slowdown when the action gets hot and heavy. Not too often, mind you, but there nonetheless.
In the end, F1 World Grand Prix proves itself to be the best F1 racing game currently on the market. Video System did an excellent job recreating the feel of F1 racing. Anyone who can appreciate the beauty of an F1 race will love this game.