I’ve played F1 quite a lot you know. I can even remember back a number of years to an occasion when a friend of mine brought around a copy of a game called Vroom to play on my A500. And although F1 WCE is an extension of F1, which is (more or less) an update of Vroom (see The More Things Change… boxout), it’s a bit different.
You see there’s a new graphic thingummy to improve the look of the game. Vroom and F1 were never the best looking of games (although I was always too polite to tell them to their faces) and although F1 WCE isn’t going to win any awards for looks, it’s a definite improvement.
Ah, but what about the actual driving bit? I hear you ask. What’s all this world championship business? Well, I’m getting to that. I just thought you might like a bit of background to kick things off and break you in gently. Bloody readers.
The reason for the WCE tag is simple. Do you wanna win the World Championship and ‘be’ the best F1 driver in the world… ever (part 1)? Then now’s your chance. You start the proceedings by picking one of top eight teams to drive for (you know, Williams, Ferrari, Benetton, etc.) then you can either enter your name or stick with that of the ‘real’ driver and then race. This fairly simple theme is carried on throughout the whole game.
Once you’ve got your car and name sorted out, you then go into the Championship. Before each race you’ve got two laps of the circuit to get your best time to see where you line uip on the starting grid and then it’s the race.
Before the qualification or the race though you’ve got the chance to exploit the set up screen, where you can alter the settings for the gearbox, wings, tyres and fuel. You really do have to pay attention to these and respond accordingly to the length of the track, weather reports and all that sort of information that you got from the map showing you the course at the beginning of the round. With all that out of the way, you’re then on the grid, engine revving away and waiting for the light to turn green.
And boy is this fun. It’s brilliantly fast and amazingly exhilarating. The control of the car is light and flimsy, and ‘gives’ just enough to throw the things around corners at 180mph. But eventually you’ll come across corners that you try and take at 200mph+ because you’ve just come off a long straight. And this is why you’ll need to brake. A very understated term in driving, braking. But F1 WCE calls for, and rewards it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to act like you’re being followed by the rozzers, you’ve just got to be careful you don’t overdo it and have a surprise meeting with one of the delicately placed advertising boards or something a lot more painful.
Thankfully, o matter how poor your road holding ability is, there’s no way you can crash your car out of the race. You’re simply penalised in terms of time and can do nothing about it as (unless you’ve built up a big enough lead) the rest of the field catch you up or even pass you by. Dam. All that hard work wasted. Come back ‘ere, you lot.
Reading through that you might think that the game is worse because of it. Wrong. It’s better. This isn’t a simulation and no matter how realistic the game tries to be, it doesn’t forget that it’s a no-holds barred speed-freak racing game. Unfortunately, in all this neck-breaking, adrenaline-pumping action, there’s something missing.
Kick things off and break
Options. These may be considered niggly points by some, but to me they’re a near-fatal flaw. The most obvious is the lack of any control options, and given that you’re forced to use Up on the joystick to accelerate, I would have thought the chance to nominate a different control system, or at least configure the joystick, would be a must.
ON top of that, there’s no save game option. No password either. And with sixteen races in a season, it’s going to take a while to complete. Oddly, you can save out your lap records and keep some sort of challenge going, but it’s not a patch on being able to save your season. (Stop press. See the news section for an exciting update. - Ed)
There’s also a couple of little presentation problems. For instance, if you’re racing around the track, don’t make it round to the pit stop in time and run out of fuel, you retire. But select the retire option from the in game pause menu and you don’t just lose the race, you quit the entire game and go back to the main menu. And remember you haven’t had the opportunity to save the game, so you’ve lost how ever far you’ve got. And I was only four races from the end with a massive points lead in the championship. Nngh!
It’s not that these points ruin the game, they just ruin the interest and excitement. After playing it for a couple of hours, checking out all the options, getting to grips with the car and all that, I was seriously enjoying myself and thinking about marking this quite highly. But then as I got more involved, I wasn’t getting what I asked for.
And I was really more than a little bit annoyed at the way some of the bits of the game worked. This could be considered pettiness on my part, but don’t forget that if this game is out to give you the chance to play in the grueling world of Formula One, then it should at least give you the chance of a small rest. And it doesn’t. And that’s bad.