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Review by: Nick Stewart
Published: May 27, 2000
Almost every industry in existence is fueled by one thing: a good, solid, loyal consumer base. Though the names may be different, the essence of it remains the same: film has its movie buffs, television has its viewers, just as major league sports have their rabid fans. Although it is not always the case, the continued financial well-being of these particular industries tends to rely on the dedication of these reliably money-spending individuals. The digital entertainment industry is no different, relying on gamers to keep its electronic wheels turning day after day. As such, developers and publishers often find themselves in fierce competition for the public’s dollars, with many feeding off a popular idea in hopes of producing a hit of their own. As a slew of racing titles have recently been released, it hardly seems surprising that many well-known companies would look to the F1 circuits in an attempt to attract would-be Michael Schumachers to their corner. Psygnosis adds itself to this list as it hopes to claim a slice of the demographic pie with its recent release, Formula One 99.
Being endowed with the Official F1 License, Formula One 99 is replete with all the realistic bells and whistles that you’d expect to witness on your television screen. The accurate portrayal of the previous season’s most prominent teams is in full effect, as every partnership from Williams to Ferrari is available to enlist as your personal racing cadre. Of course, these teams would hardly be complete without the flamboyant personalities that characterize them, and so each of the season’s featured racers are available to you. Interested in seeing British American Racing take top honors? Step into Jacques Villeneuve’s shoes and give it a go. If you’d like to see McLaren take all comers, then oversee Mika Hakkinen’s path to victory. Several aspects of the individuals’ lives are present here, from racers’ individual portraits to the style of car that they drive. To complement this completeness, the official circuits have also been included, ranging from the majestic urban tracks of Monaco to the open grassy sprawls of Brazil. Even those who are looking for something new to test-run will able to do so, thanks to the inclusion of Malaysia’s new Sepang circuit.
Those looking to experience the unique thrills of F1 competition may do so in a variety of methods. If time is a factor, then the commitment-free Quick Race might be the answer. Selecting this particular option will set you upon any track of your choice, complete with your chosen car, team and driver. Additionally, several issues such as fuel, damage and penalties have been stripped away, leaving a very simple racing experience ahead of you. This, combined with the fact that the outcome of the race doesn’t particularly affect anything, allows you to use Quick Races as a good base for practicing. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging however, then you are free to seek fame and glory via the Grand Prix mode. Under this category, full realistic effects are enabled, forcing you to plan out your fuel capacity and to ensure that you follow the track rules to the letter. This being said, selecting a Grand Prix’s Single Race is essentially a more realistic version of the Quick Race: ultimately consequence-free action, with a few issues to worry about along the way. Those looking to properly prepare themselves for the main events should consider spending some time with the Test Drive, which allows you to take your finely-tuned vehicle out onto the circuit without having to worry about time, laps or strict competition. This mode is suggested to any aspiring Grand Prix winners, as it also features a series of guidance indicators which show the fastest and most efficient way around your selected track. These modes seem to have been created with preparation in mind, and relative newcomers are suggested to take advantage of this fact.
Once you’re confident that you could burn rubber with the best of them, it’s up to you to sign up for the Championship mode, which pits you against 21 other vehicles over the course of sixteen gruelling races. Of course, you’re still free to use one of the two available practice sessions before jumping into things, but a time restriction will urge you to use your time wisely. Once you’ve tweaked your vehicle to your satisfaction, you can try your hand at pre-race qualification. You’re allowed twelve laps or an hour — whichever comes first — to put in your fastest possible time around the track, which will in turn determine your position prior to the commencement of the actual race. This step can be skipped, but isn’t particularly suggested as it places you squarely in the last possible position. Still, with sufficient practice and skill, you’ll end up fully prepared for the race itself, regardless of your initial placement. Though your primary goal is to see to your own success during the official Grand Prix championship, you also have to keep in mind that there is more at stake than personal reputation. While your ranking within each race will accord you a certain amount of points — affecting your overall standing in the Drivers Championship — your partner’s success is also desirable as the team is ranked as a whole within the Constructors’ Championship. This means that while you may feel no qualms in acting ruthlessly in order to see your name at the top of the Driver’s Championship list, you might want to think twice about cutting off your teammate if you care about succeeding elsewhere.
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