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Ferrari Formula One logo

Electronic Arts
Price: £24.95

N Ferrari Formula One o name is more famous in the world of classic sports cars than Ferrari. The Italian constructors have produced a line of cars unparalleled in speed, design and handling and nowhere is this better exemplified than in the frontline of motor racing: Formula 1. This simulation gives you the opportunity to test, adapt, drive and compete for the laurels of the formula 1 Championship in the car that has won more Grand Prix than that of any other constructor.

That sounds like a helluva lot to squeeze into a game but in true EA style they have succeeded to a great extent. FF1 allows you to do all the things described above and more, like adapt the car in a wind tunnel, test the engine under laboratory conditions, work on it in the pits and in the garage at the test track in Fiorano, practice, qualify, warm up and race. What is best about it though, is that it allows you to get as involved as much or as little as you want. You do not have to spend hours working your way through a season painfully qualifying, practising and resetting the car’s specifications if you do not want to. You can, as I found myself doing eventually, just compete in the various grand prix.

The game comes with a typically huge and detailed guidebook to playing the game and this tells you all you need to know. It even tells you how to get at the wheel of your car. What it does not tell you as clearly is how to go straight into a race that, let us face it, everyone’s going to want to do. Follow the Murray Pattenden way and you will be on the starting grid in no time.

Firstly stop laughing at the pathetic title screen music – it is not indicative of the quality of the rest of the game. Let the game run through to the Fiorano test track and elect to race by going to the race control tower. This takes you back to the loading screen but also puts up a panel with a pointer. Move the pointer to Practice and click it on the plus sign through to Race. It is also worth adjusting the distance. It is normally set on 18 kilometres, which is a mere three or four laps of most circuits. There again most grand prix races are closer to 300 kilometres. If you went through it doing every stage as you should by my reckoning it would take a day to complete one race.

Ferrari Formula One What is it like to race? Well once you are in the driver ’s seat, it is not bad at all. The view you get is accurately of the driver’s own with the steering wheel and cockpit before you. If anything, it is a bit high. The cockpit itself is full of the usual instruments but they are difficult to read and most are only of use at more advanced levels where you have to do the gear changes for yourself. Everything else is controlled via the mouse, including steering, breaking and accelerating. And once you are moving round the track it feels pretty good.

Graphically, FF1 is inconsistent. The still screens of detailed areas like the pits and the garage are excellent; whilst the more distant ones of the paddock and the test track are merely average. Out on the track the courses are varied and surprisingly detailed. Monaco for example is clearly on the coast, even if it does not have that ‘street’ feel to it. All tracks are painstakingly accurate. Imola, for example, has the acute Tosa bend where Nelson Piquet spun off last year at two hundred miles an hour. The car and those of your opponents leave a little more to be desired however. Whilst the rear view through your mirrors is effective the other cars lack detail and suffer from the trap most racing games fall into – perspective. From a short distance away they look absolutely huge. Also, the results of a crash, like Test Drive, are disappointing – no balls of flame plumes of smoke. Don’t programmers realise we are all a bit sick? Sound is perhaps the game’s biggest disappointment. There are a few good effects like the whiz of the pneumatic spanners but had EA gone and sampled some engine noises it would really have given the game an authentic feel.

Nevertheless FF1 has more than any other racing game. The only thing that comes close is Revs, and this is a lot more fun and a lot less hassle to play. With the Brazilian grand prix already over, I reckon all you boy and girl racers are going to get into it in a big way.
Mike Pattenden

CU Amiga, April 1988, p.p.68-69

Turbopower turned down so that turbo cars and normally aspirated ones stand a chance of being closer.
Riccardo Patrese second driver at Williams.
Williams cars no longer powered by Honda Engines.
Nelson Piquet now driving for Camel Lotus.
Ferrari likely to continue their revival.
Boutsen and Fabi to challenge strongly in Benetton-Ford.


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CU Rating: 8