Formula One 99
|a game by||Studio 33|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 3 reviews|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
|Rate this game:|
The PlayStation's leading hardcore racing sim is back for another season with a brand-new pit crew. Psygnosis is injecting sonic fresh blood into Formula I '98 by-signing a new developer, Visual Sciences, to create a whole new engine to drive the title. The approach will remain familiar to fans of the series, though, as FI will deliver all the pro drivers, teams, and tracks from the '98 season.
The noticeable differences are in the frame rate (much smoother) and the loading time (less eternal), which combine to really pick up the pace. Retooled graphics also mean much slicker tracks that aren't bogged down with the gray dingy look of previous editions.
As for gamcplay. even the Arcade mode is a challenging day at the track--but a very rewarding one for gamers who appreciate this style of racing. New touches like the rearview mirror and the ingame track map help a lot. too. All told. F1 '98 looks like another fine day at the races.
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I've always felt that most F1 games put too much emphasis on aesthetics and not enough on game-play. Personally I don't care if my car has 30 adjustable points or if all the correct licenses are present. At the same time I know hardcore F1 fans want all that stuff and more. F1 '99 does a fine job of keeping all the details of the '99 F1 season in order while offering driver-friendly vehicles and adequate Al. Psygnosis has made a point of softening its traditionally strict car control to attract more casual racing fans. While not quite as arcade-like as Ubi Soft's Monaco Grand Prix, control is definitely easy to learn and master. Interestingly enough the digital pad works much better than analog. When using analog the cars will occasionally drift to the right side. Digital is straight as an arrow, however. On a negative note, two-player is really mundane and at times downright unplayable. It's split-screen, one-on-one with no other cars on the track. Some of the wide-open courses are tolerable while others, like Monaco, are horribly confusing. In the end, despite the mediocre two-player, I really like the game. The gameplay is as fun as Monaco Grand Prix's but unlike that game, you get all the fancy F1-licensed teams and tracks. F1 '97 still tops 'em all but for a really fun and sim-accurate racing game Fi '99 fits the bill.
Having never been a fan of Psygnosis' Formula One series after Bizarre Creations left the franchise, I was pleasantly surprised with Formula One '99. I had trouble with the game until Dean advised me to use the D-Pad instead of analog, and the car immediately handled much better. I still prefer the feel of Monaco GP but Formula One '99 has all the names and licenses so it's a give and take. It's nice to see this franchise back on track once more.
The overall look and feel of F1 99 is more 'game' than 'sim', which is unusual for this series. Thankfully though, it captures enough of the spirit of the sport to hold fans' attention. The 1999 season is ably re-created (except for the last few races) so you can pretend you're Eddie Irvine getting screwed by Ferrari if you want to. My only major complaint is the two-player mode which suffers both graphically even if there are only two of you racing.
Past Formula One offerings were truly something, but then things went downhill for a couple of years. Thankfully, the series is back on track with this year's version. Controlling your racer is much less strict than in years past (kind of arcade-like, in fact) and the graphics and frame-rate are about as good as they can get at this point. Surprisingly, I had better luck using the digital pad to steer than the analog stick. This is one to look into.
Psygnosis's F1 series has traditionally taken the checkered flag when it comes to sim-style racing on the PlayStation, but with Formula 1 '98, the franchise is starting to look a little worn. Even though the games new developer, Visual Sciences, made some solid updates to the graphics and game-play, Formula I '98 just can't compete with NASCAR '99 or the excellent Gran Turismo.
The features remain as strong as ever. F1 '98 delivers all the tracks, drivers, and teams of the '98 season (except Jacques Villeneuve), and gamers can peel out in arcade or sim action. Respectable two-player split-screen action, decent car-setup options, an onscreen map (finally!), and season play keep this ride on the road.
But the problems begin with the visuals. Granted. F1 '98s frame rate, tracks, and cars look much better than they did in last years F1 Championship Edition, but they just can't hang with current race leaders on the PlayStation--problems with pop-up, draw-in, and breakup all mar the show. Sound-wise, the classic shriek of F1 engines returns, accompanied by solid in-race sound effects, but the commentators are a little too quiet.
As far as gameplay goes, F1 '98s aimed squarely at the sim audience. Sure, theres an enjoyable Arcade mode, but it doesn't have the appeal of, say, Need for Speed III. The sim side lives up to its billing with intensely realistic, enormously demanding racing. Responsive controts, particularly the sweetly sensitive analog, sticks, stand by you all.the way.
All told, F1 '98 is going to find a Ipyal following among fans of technical, realistic racing. But it s just not well-rounded enough to appeal to most mainstream racing-fans.
- In Arcade mode, slam shamelessly Into opponents and cut through grassy corners to quickly take the lead.
- Finish braking before you start to turn and gradually press down on the gas when you're about halfway through the turn.
- Memorize markers that tell you when to begin braking for each turn. For example, at Turn 1 In Australia, begin braking Just as you pass the last grandstand on the left