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Review by: Emil Pagliarulo
Published: April 24, 1997
I guess there are people out there who love to drive in real life, but I’m sure not one of them. I consider driving to be life’s single most frightening, frustrating activity. City living will do that to you. That’s why I can appreciate a good driving game. Nothing beats putting the pedal to the metal in the safety and comfort of your own home, free from the hassles of gridlock and angry motorists. It’s really too bad Eidos Interactive’s Power F1 doesn’t offer more of the kind of escape I had hoped for.
Power F1 is the latest entry into the rapidly growing driving game arena. Billed as an “action racing game” and not a “simulation,” it puts the player in the driver’s seat in the fast-paced and exciting Formula 1 World Championship. Racers are given the opportunity to test their driving skills on all seventeen of of the 1995 Formula 1 circuits, including Monaco, Monza, and Suzuka. There are seventeen different cars to choose from, and each of these cars puts the player in the shoes of a real-life Formula 1 driver. The pre-race portion of the game is loaded with such options, and players can pretty much configure the game any way they want.
It’s a good thing Power F1 is so customizable; the power that the player has in configuring the cars is really the strongest part of the game. Picking your car is just the beginning. After that, several other options are available. As in most racing games, the gear box can be set to automatic or manual control. One really nice feature is “autobraking,” where you can set the car to automatically apply the brakes as you near the corners. Weather can be toggled on or off, and so naturally you’ll have to choose the most appropriate tires for the race. Game difficulty can be set from “easy” to “very hard.” Essentially, this factor controls the aggression and skill of the AI drivers, and the realism of the driving physics. Easy mode severely limits your pre-game options, and lets you get the hang of Power F1 without getting overwhelmed too quickly.
Any difficulty setting above easy gains you access to the “workshop.” Here, you can customize your racer to your heart’s content. The number of options available is dizzying, but you’d better know your way around Formula 1 cars if you want to take advantage of most them. It’s like having your own in-game mechanic, who will tune and tweak your vehicle in any way you desire. Pretty much every component of your car can be changed, from the amount of fuel you’re carrying, to the ratio of your gear box. Personally, I don’t know a spark plug from a piston, I just left all of this stuff alone. The last thing I wanted was my car stalling at the starting gate; I get enough of that in real life.
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