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Formula One 2001
Graphics: 8.4
Gameplay: 8.6
Sound: 8
Control: 8
Replay Value: 9
Rating: 8.5

  Formula One games have never seen great sales success in the US, maybe it's because we aren't as keen towards the sport as other countries are, or maybe we just have a load of other videogames to play. Whatever the case is, one thing's for sure; the Playstation has had its fair share of great Formula One racers. One of the first F1 titles on the PSX was published by Psygnosis (now owned by Sony), and developed by Bizzarre Creations, Formula 1. The game was well received, and featured very pretty 3D graphics. Psygnosis' F1 series would soon see two more follow ups, but it wasn't until the third that the franchise reached a milestone. Psygnosis and Studio 33 did a wonderful job at creating one of the finest console F1 racers. Not too long after, Sony would fully acquire Psygnosis and everything that came with it. Including the Formula One franchise. A year later, Sony and Studio Liverpool deliver their very first F1 racer on the PS2, initially in Europe and then localizing it for the US, in addition to enhancing it in many areas. After waiting for a few months, I can safely assure you folks that this is one hell of an F1 experience!

   I remember originally seeing the formula one vehicles in Gran Turismo 3 and looking at them in awe. I thought they looked fantastic. After hearing much positive feedback on the game from the European press, I knew I had to play this game. Luckily for me, Sony would soon announce plans to release Formula One 2001 in the US, and I would be able to play this visual beauty on my own Playstation 2. From the dozens of movies I downloaded, the PAL version of Formula One looked wonderful. Thankfully, I have the game in my own hands and can report first hand. Straight off the top, the F1 models are superbly detailed with thousands of polygons per machine. The bodies of each vehicle look downright fantastic, as the sides, the front, back, and even the tires portray a barrage of visual detail for the eye to feed off of. Everything flows smoothly on screen, as the frame rate is extremely consistent throughout any situation. Be it 5 cars on screen or all 22, Studio Liverpool made sure that no 'slide-show' effect is present during gameplay, at any time. While for the most part F-One is a splendid looking title, the distant background detail should've been worked on. At the closer foreground, everything from billboards, to road signs, to structural detail looks absolutely fine, but look off to the very side and notice the poorly detailed trees. Because they are such a frequent sight in the game, eventually it pains me to see them. On the other hand, the game's engine is 120% pop-up or draw-in free, which is a huge plus for any racing title. Not to mention the gorgeous rain and mist effects during those slippery races. Overall, Formula One 2001 is a great looking title, only slightly hit by poorly designed trees.

   For those of you who are in search of an F1 sim, this is your house of pleasure. Arcade fans may want to rent the game, but chances are, they'll look elsewhere. F1 is built on realism. 15 minutes with the game will convince any gamer that Studio Liverpool's prime objective was to make this single-handedly the smoothest and most realistic F1 racer on the market. The development team's effort greatly shows. Thanks to the 60 frames per second, F1's sense of speed is terrific, which ultimately heightens the gamer's adrenaline rush as well. Formula One 2001 is the ideal title for the F1 enthusiast out there. It grants the gamer full customization of any F1 vehicle, by allowing him/her to adjust aerodynamics, shock springs, anti-roll, cambers, and even set a race strategy. I was very pleased with the freedom the flexibility of the game, and thankful that this wasn't just another stomp n' go racer. Being an officially licensed product, F-One consists of 22 riders, 11 teams, all with fully interactive F1 machines; in other words they can be damaged. Damaging comes with a significant price and failure, although there is an option to turn off damage, which is ideal for the beginners to the series. The game includes life like AI, without a doubt the best in any racer to date. These F1 racers will brake and swerve out of the way in order to avoid collisions, while some others may even purposely spin you out just to get ahead in the race. These punks are ruthless I tell ya'.

   Secondly, the game features 17 real life tracks, including the preposterously overused Suzuka track (Japan), Indianapolis (USA), Montreal (Canada), Magny Cours (France), Silver Stone (UK), Monza (Italy), Spa (Belgium), Melbourne (Australia), Interlagos (Brazil), Barcelona (Spain) and many more. Every track is designed accordingly to its real-life counterpart. F-One's level of depth doesn't end there though; the game features a full 17-man pit crew that is actually present on the screen. GT3 fans out there, who strived to get those F1 pups in the game and loved racing with them owe it to themselves to pick up Formula One 2001. There is a wide assortment of modes to choose from, everything basic, but the spectator mode allows you to watch a full F1 race via in-game engine, and you have full control of the camera. Very cool! My personal feelings towards Formula One 2001 are nothing but positive. I sensed very few shortcomings in the title's gameplay; I enjoyed the sense of speed, the ruthless AI, and pretty much everything else this game has to offer.

   The game's sound isn't amazing to say the least, but good nevertheless. There is commentary during the races, but it's quite redundant so I basically tuned that aspect of the sound out of my mind. The soundtrack and engine noises are a different story. I love setting my camera so that it's fixed inside of the F1 vehicle, only so I can hear the machine's engine purr like a kitty cat. As the gear increases, so does the tune of the engine. The soundtrack is composed of beats by Overseer, Grand Theft Audio, Max Odell, Lunatic Calm and Toni Halliday. The tunes are of course freestyle house beats, something you'd generally hear in a Euro based title. I should mention that I loved the menu track, something about it that was just soothing. Like I said, my only qualm with the game was its repetitive commentary.

   I believed that eventually the GT/Driving Force would be the mainstream steering wheel among all future racers. Formula One 2001 supports the wheel and does it every bit as well as Gran Turismo 3 did. The force feedback and the sensitivity made the experience truly feel realistic. Controlling the game with the Dual Shock 2 does take time to get used to. The F1's handle quite realistically and if you're not careful with the way you accelerate -at lower speeds- you will spin out, so precision is key. The analog sticks have a good deal of sensitivity in them, and will work with you if you give them some time. If you turn the tire wear on, you will begin noticing that it'll be much tougher to get a grip of the road, this is where pitting comes in. Overall, give the controls some time and they'll become your friend.

   Those who are looking for a speedy F1 racer that has got simulative appeal, visually pleasing detail and great control should really consider checking out Sony's Formula One 2001. There are many gameplay features included in the game, creating replay value that is bound to last the gamer for months to come. In addition, the game utilizes the Logitech USB wheel (GT Force/Driving Force), which is great for those who are still worried about future support for the peripheral. Casual racers and F1 enthusiasts: so far this is the F1 title for your money. You won't be disappointed.

10/11/2001   Arnold Katayev