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

Formula One 2001 (Studio Liverpool, PS2, 2001)
With graphics so realistic some people were genuinely fooled into thinking they were watching a TV broadcast of a real race when they saw it running in shops, this made every previous racing game look hideously outdated. It wasn't just the fidelity or the way the painted lines next to the kerbs on corners looked actually curved and not a series of angles - the movement was classy too. Cockpit animations such as the drivers' head being thrown forwards under heavy braking was enough to convince us that this was truly the next generation of racing games.

 
Above: David Coulthard slows for the Bus Stop chicane at Spa. Yup, as the name suggets, it was a real bus stop when it wasn't race day

The game also made the most of the pressure-sensitive DualShock 2 buttons. You could squeeze the throttle just by varying your pressure on the X button - and having to hold L1 like a real clutch as you waited for the start of the race on the hardest difficulty mode was way beyond the simple 'press accelerator to go fast' mechanic that we were used to.

Eau Rouge at Spa Francorchamps never looked so good... although we did play it again recently and were surprised at how badly the visuals have aged. Still, a landmark game and, if you can look past the jaggies and occasional slowdown, the £1.99 second hand price sounds good to us.

Grand Prix Challenge (Infogrames, PS2, 2002)
The box for this game looks like it's a budget title, but the game itself is dripping with quality. Putting the arcade 'look' back into the genre, everything here is big, bold and chunky - just the way we like it. The frame-rate is silky smooth too, and the driving model felt great. It's just an enjoyable experience - something can't be said of a lot of other driving games.

The only downer was the way you could set the suspension so soft you could make the car roll clean upside-down if you took a corner in a certain way. But if you set it to the hardest suspension setting, it's a pretty faultless experience and well worth a look if you can track it down. You really should see the vortices streaming from the back wing of the car in front as you hurtle down the straight at Imola. Nice menu screens too - all 3D and reflective. Yum.

 Above: The arcade stylings of Grand Prix Challenge make this a fun videogame regardless of how you view Formula One

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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