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F1 2002 Review
publisher: EA Sports
developer: EA Sports
PII-400, 128MB RAM, 500MB HDD, 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Jun 13, 02 (released)
|» All About F1 2002 on ActionTrip|
We didn't get much of Formula 1 titles this year. Thanks to EA Sports and their hard work, we have another enjoyable F1 game on our hands. Honestly, did you ever play a sport simulation from EA Sports that appeared out of date, unrealistic, or tedious in any way? Not me. The dudes always seem to deliver top-notch games no matter what. Anyways, after playing the game for a reasonable amount of time, I sat down and tried to get my impressions together.
My name is Coulthard, David Coulthard.
Ah so this is why Sly goes to these events.
Since this is based on the actual event, I'll skip the usual and rather pointless naming of features such as the tracks, drivers, F1 teams, and so on. All you need to know on the subject is that there's a selection of 17 famous F1 tracks and that the teams and drivers were naturally updated. Fair enough, the 2002 Hockenheim track (Germany) is completely new, but otherwise the regular choice of tracks is there.
The best thing about these games is that they're often customizable, which makes things less agitating for unskilled players and gives them a greater chance of winning a trophy of the popular F1 championship. Moreover, it was obvious that the development team's priority was to create an authentic racing simulation in every imaginable aspect. If you have the nerves and patience for it, you can adjust absolutely anything, from brake assistance and spinning recovery, to automatic clutch and shifting - the list goes on BTW: tire pressure, engine power... Still, regardless of how much experience you've had with F1 racers, you'll be missing a lot if you switch everything on automatic. In which case you'll find that the CPU is almost driving by itself leaving you out of the picture. Therefore, you should go through the variety of optimizations, simply so that you can enjoy the game more. Once you've set the general options to your liking, you have the option of tuning your formula racer. Here you'll encounter a staggering amount of parameters. Since they were all arranged to fit actual vehicle configurations, I would strongly advise players against fiddling with the car parts - unless of course they are professional drivers and know what they are doing. At any rate, if you screw something up, you can always switch to default settings again.
It's important you guys know that I'm no F1 expert. Okay, I watch the races occasionally on TV, but that's about it. Luckily I ran into F1 2002. The game truly captures the event in all its glory and lets you experience it from the perspective of the driver. Which means that if you do not know anything about the event, this game is the perfect opportunity to get started on your F1 education. Almost everything that happens out there on the real racing track was truthfully conveyed in F1 2002. Many things are probable: mechanical failures, engine trouble, wearing out your tires, etc. Of course, that all depends on how well you drive. Most of the failures are caused by spinning on the track or engine exhaustion, hence going into the pit stop is often a good idea.
To emphasize a bit on the general feel of gameplay, there might be a few issues that some will regard as drawbacks. The controls may be a bit difficult for those who haven't had the opportunity to play F1 games before. Basically, even if you've chosen the easiest level it still may prove hard getting through those nasty bends and hairpins. Not exactly an error in programming, but may cause difficulties with players who are new to this sort of genre. Oh well, I guess you have to make a choice between what's real and what's easy.
The AI however is entirely customizable and also represents another good example of the programmers' efforts to make the whole game genuine. The lowest level of AI will provide you with a relaxing and straightforward drive. The more you keep increasing its value (represented in percentages), the smarter it gets. Also, popular drivers like (M. Schumacher, R. Barrichello, J. Villenueve, D. Coulthard, and others) have been given their renowned racing abilities and they will justify their reputation, you can be sure of that. However, even the best drivers can experience some slip-ups on the road. Which is realistic and I liked it; I was happy when I heard the announcer saying: "M. Shumacher has lost his rear wing and is unable to continue!".
Controls are generally well-balanced and playing on the keyboard is not a drag as it can often be the case in certain racing simulations. Even so, like any other racing game, the idea was to exploit the maximum out of the gamepad. And, there's that force feedback thingy you'll miss if you play on a keyboard.
I wonder what this button does... Arghh!!
Also, players can test the so-called telemetry system. Now F1 cars are equipped with a special data logger, which contains specific information about your performance on the tracks. It also notes how your add-ons (new car parts) have boosted the car's performance. That will give you a chance to learn more about the whole sport from a mechanical point of view. Anyway, a pretty cool innovation I must say.
Realistic weather is another commendable feature of this game. Dense rain and sudden oncoming storms give the right boost to the whole in-game atmosphere. When all of the visual features are beefed up to the maximum, you can be sure that F1 is as close to the real racing event as any game gets. This is largely due to the advanced physics engine. Once I was caught between two F1's and after colliding, the three of us began to spin and fly all over the place - the scene displayed excellent physics, cool reflections on the car models, and an excellent damage model. At first glance, the in-game physics seem flawless, but I'm afraid there are some apparent mistakes that pop up every now and then. For instance, car parts that fly off after collision sometimes behave a bit funny - they brake away before the impact; this can be observed from the camera view out side of your cockpit. Although, it doesn't bare any effect during the race, it just really looks lame. Also, several freakish things may occur when you're watching a replay of the race.
Otherwise, everything else looks brilliant: smoke from tires, dirt flying up in the air if you get off the track, skidmarks on the road from sudden braking, nice particle effects, etc. The developers have also done a great job with those in-game models; they are all in high-res, so even if you zoom in they will still look true-to-life thanks to the copious amount of details and reflections on the hull. Oh yeah, and for once I'm completely thrilled with the way your pit-stopping team is animated (nice one indeed!).
Sound effects on the other hand do not deserve equal praise. This especially goes for the dire engine sounds and very little going on in the background. I expect there's not much going on in the background from the driver's perspective (all he can here is the humming of his engine). Still, I think they could have done a better job.
In closing, I can only say that F1 2002 is an exciting racing simulation. I highly recommend it to every gamer out there. It makes you realize why Sly is so hyped over this sporting event. Oh and console fans will be happy to know that the game is also going to appear for all next-generation systems (the game's already shipped for the Playstation 2, and is yet to be released on the Xbox and GameCube platforms).
8.9 Very Good
Overall, great gameplay, excellent visuals, the physics are impressive ...a charming atmosphere altogether. The new telemetry system. Good control system (even on the keyboard);
F1 fans will find hardly any. Some bugs were spotted here and there (which is usually a rarity in EA's games). Some of the sounds are crappy.
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