Grand Prix racing is all well and good, but playing a game of spot the difference between half a dozen nigh on identical F1 titles has become about as much fun as a head on collision with a brick wall at 210mph.
And what of the sport itself? Despite this season's desperately introduced rule changes, designed to make F1 more exciting and unpredictable, the same old faces appear on the podium week after week, spraying champagne into each others smug faces. Short of forcing Michael Schumacher to tow a caravan, it's hard to think of what can stop the German android.
Sony, nevertheless, is feeling pretty pleased with itself after bagging the official F1 licence for the next four seasons, making the PS2 the only games machine (to the best of our knowledge) with a 2003-based F1 title, featuring all the new rules (e.g. the new 'all or nothing' Saturday qualifying lap) 20 drivers and their cars, all 10 teams and current liveries, as well as the promise of all 16 official Grand Prix circuits 'mapped to an astonishing level of accuracy'. Official app store.
But does anyone care anymore?
Not bad going, but does anyone other than the devoted hardcore actually care? The radical decline in the sales of the associated videogames would suggest not, with the most recent Studio Liverpool attempts selling less than a quarter of the celebrated Psygnosis originals from '96 and '97. Clearly something had to change.
2003 Ferrari 360 Modena RWD. Description: Used 2003 Ferrari 360 Modena RWD for sale - $89,980 - 19,278 miles. Certified Pre-Owned: No. All the winners from the 2003 F1 World Championship season. Michael Schumacher won the World Championship once more but this was a far more competitive season than before. Eight drivers from five different teams won races and new McLaren superstar Kimi Raikkonen challenged for the title race until the final weekend. Sony announces Formula One 2003. SCEE announces a new F1 game and an exclusive four-year licensing deal with Formula One Administration Ltd. Jun 16, 2003 11:20am.
Drawing a line under the rather generic efforts of recent years, Studio Liverpool has finally breathed new life into this tired old series (now up to version eight, believe it or not) with a radically improved version that laps (sorry) EA's flagging franchise and does something to the F1 genre that no developer has managed for years: it makes it fun.
Studio Liverpool has essentially stripped the game down to its base elements and delivered an instantly enjoyable racing game that will have broad appeal. Not only do the controls lend themselves extremely well to such a lightning quick game, it's possibly the fastest and best looking F1 game we've ever seen, and as a result you can't help but enjoy it immediately.
Diving into the immaculate front end, the game offers a familiar series of options; in single player mode you get Arcade, Arcade Season, Custom Race, Race Weekend, Time Attack, and World Championship, while multiplayer offers Hot Seat, Arcade Race, Custom Race and Time Attack. As you'd expect, Arcade is the simple quick race means of diving into the game and selecting any track and any driver, while Arcade Season is similar, but runs the races in their seasonal order and tasks you with finishing in the top eight in order to progress to the next one. Time Attack, needless to say, is a straightforward solo ten lap challenge, which offers a trophy as a reward should you beat the preset time, while Custom Race gives you the choice of tailoring a race to your precise time, laps, difficulty, and so on. World Championship, meanwhile, gives serious F1 fans the ultimate test of taking on the entire expansive campaign with the emphasis firmly on simulation.
Go on, make the game less fun, you masochists
Although it's fairly obvious that Studio Liverpool's priorities have been to produce an accessible, more arcade-oriented F1 game, there are a plethora of options that petrol head purists can switch on to turn the game into something that will satisfy those with a penchant for bloody minded realism. Whether you'll get any more out of the game not having the various driving aids switched on is down to you, but it's reassuring to know that they're there, in case you suddenly find yourself getting too good at the game at the default settings.
If, like us, you don’t get particularly excited about the prospect of spending 10 hours learning how to take each and every corner, Formula One 2003 has exactly the right options to allow us to race the sport the way we want to; fast and dirty. But regardless of how you want to play it, you can't help but be impressed with the breadth and depth of the options available.
Equally impressive is the way the game looks. The sense of speed, for a start, is a crucial factor in F1 2003's immersiveness, something aided considerable by the classy game engine that the Liverpool team has devised. Each and every track is packed with detail, down to the individual trackside adverts, yet there is never any hint of pop up or the kind of draw distance issues that have blighted just about every F1 game ever made.
Even with all 20 cars battling it out at the start doesn’t seem to adversely affect the pace of the game, and even up close, the cars sport an impressive level of authentic detail, and kick up a pleasing amount of particle effects if you happen to get close enough. As you'd expect, the game sports a number of camera angles that all have their respective pros and cons, either giving an insane impression of speed or a more tactical behind the car view, but the bumper cam takes some beating for pure white knuckle thrills.
F for fun
Control wise, F1 2003 follows the well worn button configuration, but won us over with a responsive and direct handling system that allows you to really get stuck in and race without panicking that you're going to end up at the back of the pack every time you dare to drive at speeds of faster than 60mph. Arguably the amount of traction you get in F1 2003 is in no way realistic; you can fling the car around like it was a Mini Cooper at times, which is plainly ludicrous, but frankly not losing control at every turn is far preferable than the frustratingly anal, supposedly 'realistic' model that some of Sony's competitors insist on employing in their take on F1.
F1 2003 Calendar
Picking holes is going to be easy for some of the purists, we've no doubt. It's easy to argue that being able to bash cars off the track shouldn't and wouldn't happen the way it does in F1 2003, and that the car's response to crashing into other vehicles is the racing equivalent of getting away with murder (or suicide at any rate), but like we keep saying, the emphasis is firmly on playability.
That's not to say F1 2003 is easy, because you can't just drive around like a psycho and expect to win races; you still have to approach each corner with the same considered, tactical approach that you would do under normal circumstances. The key difference with F1 2003 is that you feel like it's you driving, rather than feeling like you're fighting against a sluggishly vile attempt at reality. To help out, the game warns of approaching hairpin bends with a red arrow, orange for medium bends and green for bends that are safe to take at high speed. Heed these warnings and even the abject novice may stand a chance of posting impressive lap times within a few goes.
One area that the game does seem overly harsh, however, is its approach to car damage. For example, if you attempt a Monaco race in Arcade mode, the chances are you'll barely even make it around half a lap before the car explodes and it's Game Over. Given that it's hard to tell how damaged your car actually is (sadly there's no discernible damage modelling to speak of), you basically find yourself adopting a very polite driving style just so you can get around the track in one piece. Meanwhile, the crash physics seem slightly bonkers at times, with your car able to flip wildly into the air, and apparently carrying on driving like nothing's happened.
However, on the plus side, it was heartening to note that for once the AI drivers appear to be just as capable as you at making mistakes, and unlike so many other F1 games they don’t just stick like glue to their racing line. Under pressure they do noticeably make mistakes, so sometimes putting the pressure on M. Schumacher-style reaps rewards, albeit at the risk of making an arse of yourself and spinning off into the gravel.
If you haven't been motivated to buy an F1 game for a few years, then now's as good a time as any to get back into the much-maligned genre. Sure, there's barely anything that's genuinely new on offer here, and the fact is that it's still only an F1 game underneath its shiny new clothes.
Scoring a game like this is a nightmare; for those with last season's version dock a point, or add one if you've never taken the plunge. Regardless, for straight up racing thrills at insane speeds, Sony's home grown effort is the best Formula One game money can buy.
F1 Challenge '99-'02 allows players to begin as a rookie driver, earn licenses, compete for cars, join a team, develop racing skills, and race for the world championship. Users can create their own racer -- customizing items like helmets -- or choose from established Formula One stars. Redesigned F1 gameplay includes improved AI, realistic accidents, and option screens available during a race for car adjustments. Players will receive real-time feedback from their chief mechanic and team boss during a race.
F1 Challenge '99-'02 crams a lot of sim nirvana into a sleek package. As its name implies, it flaunts four seasons of Formula One racing, including the drivers, cars, and tracks from 1999 to 2002. Therein lies the first caveat: You can emulate dozens of drivers and race tons of tracks, and you can play through an entire season for points, but the game lacks an ongoing 'career' mode -- don't get it confused with EA's upcoming F1 Career Challenge for PlayStation 2. It's not a big loss, though, because there's still plenty to do.
Although it's a driving game, F1 Challenge '99-'02 is closer to Microsoft Flight Simulator than it is to arcade driving ditties like Midtown Madness. It offers a staggering amount of adjustable options to help noobs and satisfy grognards -- everything from breaking aid in the turns, a fully automatic transmission, and clutch assistance to a plain-old insane amount of vehicle adjustments. The only way to ultimately master this game is to practice. In fact, several practice runs are built-in before each race; you can skip them if you wish, but it's foolhardy to attempt a race without intimately knowing the track.
Realistically, the pavement on most of the tracks is streaked dark along the optimal line, giving you a clue of where your vehicle should be at any given point. Little touches like that round out an outstanding graphics engine. The look of the game is darn near photorealistic; the cars and tracks are beautifully modeled down to the tiniest detail. Paired with these eye-popping graphics is ear-popping audio. The engine sounds come from real recordings of F1 cars, so it's not surprising that they sound accurate. The audio includes Doppler effects, which you can hear best from a stationary, trackside point of view.
F1 2003 Itv
The game overflows with realism, right down to ad space 'purchased' by real companies. You might see a bridge over the track adorned with the Michelin man, the Bridgestone logo on the tires on your car, a Toyota billboard, or some other advertisement. Sure, it reeks of as much commercialism as a Tomb Raider movie, but in doing so it makes for a very lifelike experience.
Your car is as responsive as you'd expect an F1 roadster to be. We tested it with both a Saitek Cyborg 3D Gold joystick and a Thrustmaster NASCAR Pro Force Feedback driving wheel. While keyboard controls are also offered, the only way to get the most out of this game is to employ a good driving wheel -- a force feedback model if possible. The game makes excellent use of forces, from momentum changes while rounding corners to vibrations when you slip off the track and cruise over grass or gravel.
F1 2003 Ps2
It's easy to slide off the track. The physics model in F1 Challenge '99-'02 is obviously the product of tender lovin' care and endless testing. Screaming down the straightaways emotes a breathtaking sense of speed. Learning how to take the turns is tricky, and it's easy to spin out if you wait too long to downshift or hit the brakes. On that note, the damage model has to be inspired by actual, gut wrenching crashes. There's an option for invulnerability, but with it your disabled vehicle explosively hemorrhages parts if you hit a wall or wrap it up with another racer.
Tearing up the track is only one component of a successful race. You're also encouraged to come up with a strategy concerning how many pit stops you'll make and what will be done during each one. During long races you'll need fuel and tire changes to keep up the pace. Tires do wear, and there's a noticeable difference in the handling of a car with cold tires versus race-temperature tires.
F1 2003 Ferrari Car
Full of caring touches and a microscope-like attention to detail, F1 Challenge '99-'02 is the ultimate thinking person's open-wheel racing sim. It's too bad that EA's not planning any successors, but with a full four seasons worth of racing, this sim might have the stuff to keep you on the track until another publisher picks up an F1 license.
F1 2003 Wiki
People who downloaded F1 Challenge '99-'02 have also downloaded:
F1 2002, Grand Prix 4, F1 2001, F1 Racing Championship, F1 Championship Season 2000, F1 2000, F1 Manager 2000, Grand Prix Legends