For years now, F1 racing simulators have almost always taken a back seat to flashier, arcade style games. Titus Software, publisher of Top Gun: Combat Zones and Exhibition of Speed, is bringing F1 racing to the frontlines with its newest title, Downforce. By offering more detailed graphics and less cumbersome driving mechanics, Downforce promises to bring F1 racers the praise they deserve.
Downforce will take players through several different locales, including Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, Toronto, and the Florida swamps. Each level will greatly resemble their respective cities, showing landmarks and other geographical features. Titus promises that all the levels will be incredibly detailed, and each city will have 3 different variations. On top of that, Downforce will vary a bit from other F1 simulators in that it is set in the future, offering radical car designs.
Downforce will offer 4 not too distinct racing modes, Trophy, Championship, Free Race and Time Attack. Trohpy and Championship are basically the same, except for the addition of qualifying runs in the Championship mode. Both of these modes require you to place in three consecutive races before moving on.
Free Race will allow you to compete against other cars without the constraints of time, but each time you choose this option the city you race in will be picked at random, which makes it hard to use as an alternative to a practice mode. The Time Attack mode is your basic time based challenge, forcing you to reach checkpoints before time runs out.
In addition to the 4 Single Player modes, Downforce will also offer 2 Multiplayer modes, including a Time Tag mode that offers an incredibly innovative take on multiplayer racing. In Time Tag, if one player gets too far ahead, a timer starts counting down, and if it reaches 0 before you catch up to the lead car, the race is over.
However, what separates Downforce from other F1 racers is the gameplay, which is much more action oriented. Downforce encourages contact with other players, making it an important factor. You can literally push aside the competition on your way to victory, but be careful cause the other drivers will be looking to do the same to you. When you collide with another car, or side wall or pretty much anything, your car will take damage that affects its performance. After enough damage is received, even simple turns can become impossible to negotiate.
The gameplay is also quite different from other F1 racing games in that the controls will be much more forgiving and easy to learn, and will have more in common with arcade racers. Unlike games such as Gran Turismo, Downforce will be the type of game where letting of the accelerator is most often unnecessary except in the sharpest of turns. While the gameplay will be a big departure from the norm, it should offer a great pick up and play appeal.
Downforce is currently set for release on May 18th, 2002.
4/11/2002 Ryan Hartmann