F1 Racing Championship
|a game by||Ubisoft, Shanghai, and Shanghai UBIsoft Computer Software Co.|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation 2, Nintendo 64, GameBoy Color|
|Editor Rating:||7.5/10, based on 1 review, 3 reviews are shown|
|User Rating:||8.2/10 - 11 votes|
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|See also:||Championship Games, Racing Games, Formula-1 Games, F-1 Games|
With the new F1 season having just kicked oft, we're bound to see an influx of F1 games hit the shelves over the coming months. And first out of the pit lane is Ubi Soft's FI Racing Championship. As far as F1 games go, it's a fairly competent attempt at recreating the high-speed action of the real thing. It's a slickly designed simulation, which otters a lasting challenge and has plenty ot user-friendly options. However, its major problem is that the AI is ludicrously aggressive. At times, races deteriorate into a destruction-derby-type farce, as opponents barge you out of the way and send you skidding across a gravel trap with your nose cone and tyres in tow. You can turn the damage off, but let's face it - you can only ram your way to victory so many times before it gets boring.
Setting The Pace
Customising F1RCis made easy by some excellent difficulty setting options, which allow you to break yourself in as quickly or as gently as you like. However, once you've turned off all the driving aids, F1RC becomes fiendishly challenging. In fact, it's so hard that unless you're a diehard F1 nut, you'll probably find it more annoying than enjoyable, as you'll initially spend more time in the pits repairing your car than you do racing.
Generally the presentation is pretty impressive, with TV-style banners showing the distances between you and the cars in front and behind. Although, for some strange reason, you're rarely given this information when you cross the start/finish line, which is when you really want it the most.
Graphically, it's superior to both GP3 and EA's FI Championship: Season 2000, and while this is hardly a major achievement, F1RC is currently the best-looking F1 game around. It also runs on a pretty low-spec machine - we tried it on a Celeron 400, and while it hardly ran like a dream, it was more than playable.
True To Life
F1RCs claim to fame is that it's the first F1 game with 100 per cent accurately recreated circuits. Forget Crammond and his camera-wielding cronies; every track has been modelled using a GPS. So if you actually give a toss about this kind of thing, rest assured that as you bomb down the back straight at Hockenheim, it's exactly the right width and length, and bears an excellent resemblance to the real thing.
It's also good to see that the AI can make just as many mistakes as you, with each driver being modelled on their performance from the 1999 season. More experienced drivers such as Michael Schumacher are less likely to make a mistake than newbies when you're pushing to overtake them. However, it's somewhat of a rarity that they'll use blocking manoeuvres, as each driver tends to just stick to the racing line.
Unlike GP3, you can comfortably play from a behind-the-car viewpoint as well as an in-cockpit one, which is good news for those of you who prefer a more arcadey experience. Once you get used to the handling of the cars, you'll find that F1RC an be hugely satisfying. The only problem is, you may not last that long.
Despite its versatile customisation options, the game desperately needs a tutorial (along the lines of that seen In F1 Championship: Season 2000) to teach you the subtleties of driving an F1 car, or to just stop you from making a fool out of yourself when playing in multiplayer (split screen and LAN).
F1RC also has several other serious shortcomings. Firstly, some of the rule interpretations are baffling. You can blatantly cut across huge swathes of the circuit without getting penalised, only to be given a 10-second penalty for accidentally over-running a corner. Pit communications are decidedly average, and as I've already mentioned, you're constantly being pushed off the circuit.
If you're desperate to drive round in circles while other vehicles crash into you, then go to the fairground and have a go on the dodgems. However, if you're a true F1 fan who's looking for a new challenge and you can ignore the over-exuberant Al, you'll find F1RC is a fairly entertaining and rewarding Grand Prix game. Just don't expect anything amazing.
Download F1 Racing Championship
This is a very respectable Fi game--definitely much better than the EA Sports offering a couple months ago. F1 Racing Championship contains all the licensed cars, drivers and tracks you'd expect. Unfortunately, since this game is based on the '99 season, no Indianapolis course here. But all the other tracks are present and accounted for, and look great. From the tight quarters in Monaco to the wide-open racing of Hockenheim, the level of realism is wonderful. Heat waves blur cars ahead of you, and roadside objects are reflected perfectly in the glossy paintjob of each car as they scream around the courses. It all comes at a price, though, since the game does suffer a little slowdown once in a while. I also wish there was a real race commentator and that more stats would scroll across the screen during each event. I hate not knowing who's the fastest or how far I am from the leader during a race. Still, FiRC has setup options out the wazoo, and a very cool Scenario mode where you get placed in different situations real drivers had to face at one point or another. It could be holding your position on old tires for three laps or overtaking a teammate before the end of the race. Best of all, the control is superb and the opponent vehicles react realistically to your presence. If you out-brake someone into a turn, they won't just hold their line and ram you, they'll get out of the way. Good job by Video Systems.
With GT3 still a good way off and the PS2 giving up the racing scene to the DC, it's good to see it hosting a simple, fast-paced racer that you can just sit down and play the heck out of. Fi's controls are easy to pick up--it's a great game for beginners. Flip over to the Grand Prix setting, though, and a host of dialable settings opens up for the pros. From weather conditions to racing parameters to detailed car customization, there's an exhaustive array of tweaks. Graphically it's a little washed-out and isn't even in the same hemisphere as GT3 in terms of detail, but the focus seems to be on the art of racing, not the look, and Fi's pretty much nailed it.
Video Systems is known for their detailed racing sims--they go about as deep as any console Fi game dares to tread. Their latest is no exception: You can tweak just about every stinking thing including the gear ratios, toe/camber, engine rev-limits, and so on. I found the extensive adjustability quite useful. On the other hand, the sensation of speed is not the best and there's a bit of slowdown here and there. The handling takes some getting used to as well. But overall, the good outweighs the bad. The opponent Al is, well, intelligent (they actually get out of the way when you pass). The difficulty levels are set correctly and last but not least--it's lots of fun.
Ubi Soft's returning to the F1 circuit with FI Racing 2. Along with a freshly minted PlayStation version, the game's additions include 16 tracks, new stats, souped-up crashes, and new drivers to the lineup. Gamers who prefer a heavy sint emphasis will find plenty of realism as well as high-octane speed. Of course, we'll have to wait and see whether that's enough to help F1 Racing 2 emerge from the pack on the clogged console racetracks...
Snapshots and Media
Playstation 2 Screenshots
Nintendo 64/N64 Screenshots
GameBoy Color Screenshots
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