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60 laps of the same track - the best F1 games of all time

The new Formula One season begins this weekend and we think it's safe to say that the sport is finally getting good again. It had been in a slump ever since the tragic death of Ayrton Senna in 1994, and nobody wanted to watch Michael Schumacher drive around in circles, winning everything in sight. But now Schuey's retired, exciting new drivers like Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and our own Lewis Hamilton look to have brought back the competitive rivalry the sport so badly needed.

So, in celebration, we've trawled our game collection to bring you the best Formula One games ever made, from the ZX Spectrum right through to PlayStation 3. Watch for the lights... Go! Go! Go!

F-1 World Grand Prix (Paradigm Entertainment, Nintendo 64, 1997)
On the racer-starved N64, any Formula One game was going to get some attention. But, fortunately, F-1 World Grand Prix was brilliant. At the time, no console racer came anywhere near the visual quality of this game, aided no doubt by the cool action replay feature. Remember the adverts on TV where the guy's playing his mate and overtakes him by driving over the grass? "Oh, I don't think we need to see that again... oh wait, yes we do!" (hits the replay button ad infinitum).

Above: Shame the cars of the era were so constrained by regulations - look at those wafer-thin wheels

The quality was high and the N64 Rumble Pak was used to great effect. However, the graphics have aged badly (like the majority of N64 games if truth be told) and the control doesn't feel quite right when playing it today. Still, it was essential at the time and we're still fond of it.

Super Monaco Grand Prix (Sega, Mega Drive, 1990)
Superior to its sequel in a number of key areas, this is Sega at its best. The rival system whereby you must choose an opponent before the race and beat him in successive races in order to progress up through the teams was a masterstroke. Of course, you risk losing your seat in your existing team if you fail to beat your rival, so it's up to you how high you try.

Above: It may look primitive, but it still plays well and the game design is superb

With progressive vehicle damage not present in SMGPII, more punishing trackside grass and faster gameplay, this is arguably the best version of Super Monaco GP. It's full of cool details too such as sparks from the undertray of the car in front and even a speed-boosting slipstream effect from using the 'hole in the air'. We'd go so far as to say that playing it on a Sega Nomad (the handheld Genesis only released in the US), this is perhaps the perfect handheld racing game. In fact, thinking about it like that, this would have made for a superb GBA game. Ah well.

2 comments

  • gribb85 - February 14, 2010 9:10 a.m.

    RyanBurntFuel it really wasn't. If you had ever played Grand Prix 4 or even 2, you'd know how delusional your comments are. Just wanted to say how fantastic this article is and how much it has brought back memories of playing some fantastic games. Geoff Crammond wherever you are, I salute you!
  • RyanBurntFuel - February 12, 2010 10:11 a.m.

    What??? No mention of EA's pc game F1 Challenge '99-2002??? I am. . . I have no words. That was surely the greatest Formula 1 game ever made, in all aspects. I registered specifically to make noise about this :P

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