F1 Championship Season 2000
It really is hard to understand how F1 manages to attract so many people to its races. You sit in a crowd, often get soaked because it's pissing down with rain, and watch as 20 blurred, vaguely car-like objects whiz by you every couple of minutes. Nope, you've got me, I really don't get it and no amount of harping on about how "it's the crowd atmosphere that makes it so exciting", is going to convince me otherwise. Been there, saw very little, got bored and couldn't be arsed to fork out for the T-shirt because I realised that the only true adrenaline rush in F1 racing is in the cockpit. And as most of us aren't even good enough to pass our driving test the first time round, the only hope we have of ever getting close to the action is through computer games. We'd all hoped GP3 would be the game to recreate this thrill, but we were wrong. However, the good news is that where it failed, F1CS2000 has (to a certain extent) succeeded.
Fun And Games
Now before you start getting all overexcited, we have to tell you that F1CS2000 is not, unfortunately, the definitive F1 game we've all been hankering after. However, it is loads of fun and has most of the features GP3, inexplicably, left out. Take, for example, the driving tests. Instead of providing you with a manual the size of a phone directory in which few basic 2D drawings show you how to drive, F1CS2000 adopts a Gran Turismo-like approach. You watch and listen driven through a series of corners and straights by an expert, then it's your turn to have a go. Come off the track or take too long and you fail. However, rather than degenerating into a snore-fest tutorial, it becomes great fun trying to accomplish each challenge.
Before I started gibbering on about how great the driving tests are, I mentioned this thing called fun, and F1CS2000 has plenty of it. Instead of trying to recreate every detail of F1, right down to the correct amount of stones that line each gravel trap, the boys at EA have decided to mix arcade action and realism to create a game which is not only entertaining, but also extremely challenging. The AI isn't up to GP3s standards, but in some ways this is no bad thing. You won't find yourself tempted to smash your monitor with a hammer just because you've skidded once and can't catch up with the pack. F1CS2000 is so well balanced that if you're rubbish you can still compete with the back markers, while if you're a budding Schumacher the front-runners will provide you with a real fight. You can configure the game to your liking, making it as arcadey (turn on invulnerability and spin correction, play with the behind-car viewpoint and start ramming your way into first place) or as realistically (turn off all driving aids and turn on all mechanical failure and strategy options) as you like.
And There's More
Pit communications keep you updated on your race position and lap times, and the engines actually resemble the grunt of real-life F1 cars, rather than the usual pre-pubescent mosquito engine sounds of so many other GP games. Although there are no Internet options, you can compete with up to seven other players over a LAN. All the season 2000 drivers, race scenarios and cars are also available and you can choose to set up your car yourself or load a default setting. Although it has several annoying faults, such as providing a procession lap but only letting you watch it, an unclear external view interface and a strange floating vehicle effect, as well as some slightly shoddy graphics which still require a hefty PC, this is currently the most accessible, thrilling, and downright entertaining F1 game you can get your hands on. Don't expect miracles, but do expect to capture that thrill of racing which GP3 sadly lacked.