Pole Position

Burn some rubber with Schumacher and gang in this F1 simulation.

I'm not a big fan of bike racing. I don't like baseball, and cricket puts me to sleep. And these are just three of the reasons why I liked EA Sports' "F1 2000" so much.

For those of you who follow Formula 1, "F1 2000" will hold no surprises. Based on the FIA World Championship, the game involves racing across seventeen different courses in exotic locations, competing against rival teams to take the checkered flag, win the Drivers Championship, and accumulate enough points to give your team the Constructors title.

Easier said than done, however - no one ever said that Formula 1 was easy, and "F1 2000" proves that it takes more than a nimble trigger finger to win a championship. It involves setting up the car correctly, racing to a good grid position, getting off the grid well, and holding you nerve through innumerable pit stops and circuits of the course.

Five game modes are available: "Test Day" lets you test-drive your vehicle in a non-competitive environment; "Quick Race" gets you up and running quickly; "Grand Prix" brings you the complete F1 weekend experience, including testing and qualifying; "Championship" lets you compete in a full racing season and is played out across different countries and tracks; and "Multiplayer" lets you play a network game. Of all the game modes, I enjoyed "Quick Race" the most - it's perfect for all those times when you just need a quick break from your work - although tacticians and enthusiasts will prefer the "Championship" mode and the tremendous flexibility it offers.

As with all EA titles, both graphics and sound are superlative - the engines roar, the tires screech, the car wobbles and swerves, and the crowd screams and waves when you go past it. The courses, which are modeled on real-life championship courses, offer a fair amount of variety and will provide even experienced players with a challenge. Never having driven a real F1 car, it's difficult to comment on how accurate the physics are; however, EA seems to have done a good job of treading the fine line between control and performance, and car handling seems just about right. Make sure that you have lots of horsepower under the hood of your PC, though - this is not a game you'll enjoy on the minimum recommended configuration.

A heads-up display keeps you informed at all times of your position in the race, of the status of vehicular systems, and of important race messages. A number of different camera views are available, and players also have the option of customizing car settings (suspension, tires, brakes, fuel ) in the garage prior to a race. A comprehensive manual provides information on the minutiae of Formula 1 - rules, driver tips, driver and team histories - and includes details on how to best optimize your F1 drive.

For everyone who's ever watched Formula 1, and wished they were there, "F1 2000" should be an easy buy - it's fun, it's realistic, and it satisfies the basic urge for speed and power. Go on...you know you want this game!

This article was first published on13 Mar 2001.