F-1 World Grand Prix
The wait for a great N64 racing game is finally over!
It's about time. After being subjected to far more than their fair share of mediocre racers that offer all the thrills of a ride in a baby buggy (step forth MRC. Automobili Lamborghini! Cruis'n USA! Off-Road Challenge! GT 64!) N64 owners can finally take to the road without shame.
The game that at last allows N64 owners to cast dismissive waves at PlayStation racers is F-1 World Grand Prix, a 'realism is all' racing sim based on the 1997 Grand Prix season. F-1 World Grand Prix comes from publishers Video System and developers Paradigm, who between them inflicted the appalling Aero Fighters Assault upon the world, but don't let that put you off. This is Paradigm in simulation mode (which is after all their stock in trade) the Paradigm that created Pilotwings for Nintendo. They might not be able to create arcade games worth a damn, but send them away with a brief to simulate something and make it look fantastic, and their boffiny little heads will be positively throbbing with overworked neurons.
Steer Heart Attack
Make no mistake, this is a genuine simulation - if the most believable racing game you've played to date is Cruis'n USA, you should stay well away. F-1 is the kind of game that requires several days of play before it becomes second nature, almost the antithesis of Nintendo's usual 'pick up and play' policy. (Despite this, Nintendo itself will release F-1 in the UK - the game is due out here on 18 September.) The first time you play, even on the basic Rookie mode with all the in-game help turned on, you'll be lucky to get around the course.
As there is not any concession to casual gamers with the inclusion of an Arcade mode, it will take quite a while before players can consider themselves even vaguely proficient with the controls. F-1 uses an unusual steering method - as well as left and right as you'd expect, up and down on the analogue are also used. The further down you move the stick, the sharper the turn. Until you get used to the idea that the stick can never be left in the neutral position, you'll have a very hard time getting around corners.
Practice pays off. F-1 is by far the best racer on the N64, easily outdoing Top Gear Rally, the next best game. Although it's a very different kind of game to F-Zero X, it's equally good at involving you in the action - not least because you know who the drivers are and you can shout anti-German abuse at Michael Schumacher as he powers past you yet again.
The Wheel Deal
F-1 World Grand Prix Is one of the few racing games on the N64 to offer a control mode specially designed for use with steering wheels. Having a few knocking about the place, it was decided to test them out
We made a staggering discovery. Most of the wheels added a bit of fun to the proceedings, but didn't make much difference to the game play. All that changed when Interacts Ultra Racer 64 (reviewed in issue 11) was brought into play. The odd Dustbuster-shaped device got a good review back then, but when connected to F-1 WGP...
Put it this way - if you buy F-1, then it's worth buying an Ultra Racer just to use with it! The small, precise wheel gives absolutely perfect control over the car; no thrashing around, no pedals sliding across the floor, no fumbling with the analogue stick, lust the sight of your car nipping past -the competition and taking the chequered flag!
Williams, It Was Really Nothing
Visually, F-1is rarely short of stunning. If you watch Formula 1 of a Sunday, the courses are all instantly recognisable - it almost looks as though somebody was despatched with a camera around the world to take snaps of real trackside features to use as textures. Before each race, a flyby of the course fades in through orange filters like the opening shot of a Jerry Bruckheimer production. You half expect Kenny Loggins or somebody to strike up some synth-backed AOR guitar chords.
The cars themselves are loaded with detail, right down to suspension struts, bits of ironmongry in the engine bay and the driver's head bobbing about in the cockpit. There are several viewpoints to choose from - the easiest to use is the 'behind the car' option, but the cockpit view is very impressive, one of the best in any videogame. All that's washed out by the glare. Although there's some minor depth fogging, it's barely noticeable, and on some tracks it's almost totally absent. While it's a very different use of the N64's graphical power to Banjo-Kazooie, it's just as impressive.
Audio effects are just as cool. The engine roar is just like you'd hear while watching a real Grand Prix and to avoid monotony, samples from actual races are mixed into the background to give the effect of cars passing on other parts of the course.
Schumy Does Monaco
In a 64 Magazine exclusive, we've got top driver Michael Schumacher to talk you around Monaco, the most famous Grand Prix circuit of all.
At least, he said he was Michael Schumacher. It could just be somebody doing a funny voice, of course.
- Start Line: "Ach! I am down in ze rankings. But zis is only ze demonstration, ozervise I be in pole und kick ze arse, ya?"
- Sainte Devote: "Ze first comer, und a svine it is. Too fast, und I vill be in ze run-off area. At ze start zis is very crowded, so be careful, ya?"
- Casino: "Ze ozer drivers spend zelr money in der casino, but not I, nein. I haf to replace mein robot parts, ya? Ha! Joke!"
- Loews: "Zis comer is most tricky - It doubles back und must be taken at der very low speed. Hit ze barriers und you are out, ya?"
- Du Portier: "Zis turn before ze tunnel ist eine ozer slow vun, but mit der magnificent view of der Mediterranean, ya?"
- Tunnel: "Schnell! Ze tunnel ist der only high-speed part of ze circuit. Good for ze overtaking, but narrow - vatch ze sides, ya?"
- Chicane: "Achtung! Ze chicane ist eine pain. Ach, zat rhymes! Ze speed und gears must be right down to get through, ya?"
- La Rascasse: "Zis series of tight turns ist eine nightmare, ya? Only ze best can go through mach schnell. Zat means me, ya?"
- Start/Finish Straight: "Zis is mein favourite part of ze track - for here is vhere I alvays vin! Ha! For you, Damon, ze race is over! Ya?"
F-1 also crams in a lot of speech. Although it's not as though you've got Murray Walker gabbling on hysterically and Martin Brundle quietly correcting him, the voice of the Scottish bloke in the pits is surprisingly informative. Every time the lead changes, someone retires or a driver ahead of you ducks into the pits, you get a report on events. If someone's about to overtake, you get a frantic message that so-and-so "is right behind you!" The last game that used speech this well was Lylat Wars, and in F-1 it's actually informative.
As far as presentation goes, F-1 can barely be faulted. The official Formula 1 licence makes everything as authentic- I looking as possible, and, Jacques Villeneuve aside, all the 1997 drivers are in the game, driving as they actually do. I Schumacher, of course, rarely makes a I mistake, while mobile chicane Ukyo Katayama is most often found chugging away near the back of the pack.
One very smart feature is '97 Events', I which if selected takes drivers off the track at the same point as their real-life I counterparts did in the actual race. You I know that Berger's going to spin off on lap 28? Stick with him and he'll drop out right when he should.
Just Buy It, Okay?
F-1 is a game that should make certain I publishers deeply ashamed of the cack I they've been foisting upon us. If Paradigm can squeeze in 17 real-world I tracks with extreme accuracy, no pop- I up, minimal fogging, high speed, realistic cars, proper driver behaviour and speech by the gallon, why are we still putting up with garbage like GT 64?
F-1's faults are few, but they are there. A couple of tracks have a noticeably slower frame rate in certain areas (being real courses, Paradigm couldn't just alter them to take out the complex bits), and why isn't there a rundown of the drivers' and constructors' championships after each race? For that matter, where's the spraying M6et after a podium finish? In fact, where's the podium?
This is just nitpicking, though. If you're prepared to invest the time needed to learn how to handle the cars, F-1 World Grand Prix is an absolutely essential buy for anyone who's ever fancied themselves as a budding world champion. You don't need a PlayStation to play a great racing game any more.
2nd rating opinion
Finally a decent terrestrial' racing game for the N64! F-1 is easily the best Formula 1 game currently available for any console and gives most of the top-end PC titles a run for their money! If you're a Formula 1 fan, then you can't afford to miss out on this game. Everything about it just cries 'buy me!' So get out there now and do it!
F-1 World Grand Prix DownloadsF-1 World Grand Prix download
- Machine: Genesis;
- Manufacturer: Tengen-Domark;
Buyer's Guide: An F-1 sim so intense you can almost smell the burning rubber. No game since Road Rash conveys the feeling of speed quite like this one. Pure and simple: Your car handles like a dream.
Driver's Ed: It's better to brake when approaching cars on tight turns, then pour on the juice and pass them in the straightaways. Rear-ending another competitor puts your car at a standstill.
Astonishingly realistic, visually stunning racing sim that really shows off the power of the N64. This is Formula One.
The finest F1 sim in the world. Best played with a steering wheel.
The best F1 game on any format. No F1 fan can afford to be without it when it comes to re-enacting their favourite Grand Prix moments, but it's more than enough of a racing game for non F1 addicts as well. Schumacher need never win anything again.
If you're a fan of F1 then this is a game you can't be without. I'm np expert but after playing this for a few weeks I can hold my own in any Sunday afternoon post-race analysis.
On the French track (Magny Cours), you can take a shortcut to get into pole position. Start the race, and race as normal until you reach the first right-hand bend On the bend you can drive across the grass and over the hill.
Question: Is there anyway to get faster lap times in F1 World Grand Prix?
Answer: No easy way. I'm afraid - it really is a case of practice. Initially you should be starting off on the easiest setting with both braking and acceleration assist on. However, once you get the hang of taking the comers at the correct speeds, you should take off the braking assist at the earliest opportunity - this will enable you to brake far later at the corners than the CPU allows you to, which can improve your lap times dramatically. Apart from that general advice lap times will vary depending on which course you're racing on, how many laps you're doing and a hundred other variables The less laps you're doing, the lighter your fuel load and the faster your car Less down-force on your car will also increase your speed but this will come at the loss of stability and grip.
Question: So are there any cheats in the game?
Answer: You can access two hidden drivers - Silver and Gold metallic versions of the Williams driver. They're both faster than any of the other drivers but you can't use them in the Championship, only in the Time Trial and exhibition modes. Still, gravy's gravy, so here's the cheat.
Choose the second Williams driver (the one actually named Driver Williams). Edit his name to 'Driver Chromed' (for the Silver Driver) or 'Driver Pyrites' (for the Gold Driver). Make sure both names are spelt correctly or the cheat won't work.
Formula 1 simulation based on the 1997 season. Incredibly detailed and realistic, but complex; not for casual players.