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F1 Championship Season 2000

Reviewed By: Erica Marceau

Review Date: January 14, 2003

Review Computer: 400 MHz G4 (Gigabit Ethernet) with 256MB RAM, ATI Rage 128 Pro, and Mac OS 9.2.2.


Genre: Racing
Format: CD
Developer: Electronic Arts, Inc.
Publisher: Electronic Arts, Inc.
Mac Port: Exitdata Software, Ltd.
Mac Publisher: Feral Interactive
Minimum System Requirements: Mac OS 9.1 or Mac OS X v10.1.3, 333MHz G3, 128MB RAM (with virtual memory set to at least 256 MB), 500MB free hard disk space, 4x CD-ROM drive, 8MB 3D graphics accelerator (OpenGL compatible), 800x600 monitor running in 16-bit (thousands) mode, OpenGL 1.2.1, CarbonLib 1.6, ethernet connection (for networked play)
Network Feature: Yes
3D Support: Yes
Price: $49.99
ESRB: E for Everyone
Availability: Out now

I remember fondly my days of playing Super Mario Racing on my SNES where I did a hop and a skid to make tight turns and a race could be won with the proper use of a guided shell missile. There were other racing games, too, where I could use money won from placing first to buy a more powerful engine or even a spoiler. F1 Championship Season 2000 (F1) is not like these games. If you want to make a tight turn, be prepared to watch your speed and approach. If you want to use a better car, you can modify the default (and save to use later) by adjusting variables from tire pressure to spoiler angle to how much gas you get when you go in for a pit stop.

F1 has tutorials designed to teach you how to start from a stop, test your reflexes, how to take a variety of turns, and more on three different tracks. You get a voice-over telling you what you will learn, are then taken to the track and shown exactly what to do, and are then given control to do it yourself. Once you pass the lesson, you can move on to the next. You have to pass earlier tutorials before you can get to the later ones that teach more difficult lessons. This makes sense, but it's not a lot of fun if you get stuck on a particular tutorial and can't manage to get a passing score. Once you get through all of the tutorials, however, you will be in good shape to tackle the real races and I applaud Electronic Arts for including it.

There are several ways to play F1: Test Day (you can practice driving any track by yourself), Quick Race (you race on any track against other drivers), Grand Prix (it's like the Quick Race mode but includes the practice, qualifying, and warm up sessions), and Championship (you take part in an entire season of races). You can also play against people over the Internet through TCP/IP. With these many options, if you just want to have a quick race before going to bed, you can do that. On the other hand, you might want to modify your car to perform the best on a particular track. You can save each setting and use them before each race. The manual does a good job of describing what each change will do, and it even provides a few settings for you to use. However, to get the best performance, you'll have to test what each change does and make your own settings.

What's neat is that each person can have his/her own profile so your times won't mix with each other. Also, you can save after each race in a Championship so you don't have to finish it in one sitting. There are also many difficulty options: you can have the computer shift for you, help you with the brakes so you don't lock the wheels or brake automatically when going into a turn. As you get better in driving, you can turn off more of these options. I particularly like the assistance as not everyone can handle driving at 150 mph. Of course, there's a controllable camera with three save slots so you can quickly switch between them. You can also make movies of any race for later viewing.

The graphics are pretty good, but don't expect to see the trees move in the wind or rain falling down when you select wet weather. Still, the graphics are detailed enough and it actually looks as if there are people in the grandstands as you drive by. I turned on all of the options and was able to perform with no noticeable slowdowns or sputters. F1 automatically adjusts the video options based on how fast your computer is, although I didn't notice any slowdowns by increasing the settings above what is recommended.

The sound is the weakest part of F1, as my dad's Mazda sounds more powerful than the racing cars. The squeals are pretty realistic, although there could have been a bit more background noise such as people yelling in the stands, wind blowing through your helmet, and more tire sounds. I don't know if you can actually hear these things in a real race, but it'd be nice for ambience.

If you want a realistic racing game, pick up F1 Championship Season 2000 and a steering wheel or game pad and you'll have a great time. With the tutorials and driving assistance, even novice drivers can have a chance at driving race cars at 200 mph.

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