Grand Prix World
|a game by||Edward Grabowski Communications Ltd.|
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Formula One is an odd sport. Granted, next to spending all night playing Planescape: Tomament it's the best reason for staying up until 5am on a Sunday. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that we're watching it for any reason other than the hope of witnessing a massive Carmageddon-style pile-up.
Anyhow, Grand Prix World concerns itself with managing an F1 team rather than driving for one, putting it in a field of exactly, er, one game. Sure, most of the driving sims allow you to tinker with the set-up of your car, but how many let you decide which catering firm to use at each race?
I Wish I Could Drive
The first thing that hits you is how weird the music is. It sounds like Phillip Glass having a mystical love child with Jean Michel Jarre (during Jarre's early '80s period). While it wouldn't have been out of place in some WomeworW-style space exploration epic, it has as much to do with F1 as the 'music' of Keith Harris has with Oasis.
On the licensing side of things, it's odd we have to start with the 1998 season, as people like sports sims to be up-to-date. On the plus side it means we've still got the likes ofToranosuke Takagi hanging around (good for comedy value).
On the negative side Jacques Villeneuve is still being arsey and refusing to let MicroProse use his name, hence 'John Newhouse' driving for Williams (presumably with his Aussie singer girlfriend Donni Minnow hanging around the pit lane). And the Stewart team (one of my personal favourites) is still stuck with Ford with no sign of Jaguar in the game.
Another problem is the lack of CM3-style accessibility or cross-referencing that's vital in games of this nature. You get an email from your design team telling you they've completed work on the new automatic braking system, let's say. But rather than giving you an instant link to the necessary data, you have to click on the engineering section, open the design team page and then search for the driving aids section, and so on. It'd be OK if you were only checking one or two things between each race, but you have to micro-manage everything in the game, from tyre wear to the staff levels of your official fan club. There can be something like 50 emails coming in each month and it's far too easy to lose track of where you are and what needs to be done.
Race days are oddly presented too. There are plenty of ways to view the race (the pseudo-3D TV views are strange at first, although you do get used to them) but there's a surprising lack of telemetry data for you to analyse. Consequently you've no real way of knowing what's going on with your cars other than watching the bits fall off.
K Despite its problems, you do find yourself warming to GPW after a while. Most of the faults are more to do with the cumbersome nature of the presentation than actual flaws with the programming and if you can live with them, then there's a fairly nice game underneath.
I say fairly nice as a lot of the time it does feel as though you're just going through the motions rather than actually making strategic decisions about your team. But I guess it's safe to say that in a field of one, GPW reigns supreme (and guess which part of that sentence will be used in the adverts).