Talking of strange beasts Formula One fits this description aptly. Over the years this hugely popular motorsport has managed to evolve into something quite different from the “must see” Sunday TV it was during my younger years. Today, however, the sport suffers from a lack of on-track excitement. It remains far too focused on qualifying performances, and also lacks the spark when Nigel Mansell was flying the flag for Great Britain. However, if you’re an F1 fan, this PlayStation 3 debut for the sport should be high on your wanted list!
Racing an F1 car is an unforgiving experience: simply making it round a circuit without veering off the track brings a sense of achievement. If you do this with utmost regularity, however, you can then proceed to shaving seconds or tenths of a second from your best time. And once you fit into the groove you’ll fall into something akin to a hypnotic state, with laps flying past and times falling into a radius of unbelievable close range. At the same time you have to be dedicated, however, and become used to the rather twitchy controls. Although some effort has been made to solve this riddle, by introducing tilt steering, for example, with the Sixaxis, however much I tried, it never truly gelled.
Racing itself is a completely different skill, whilst the presence of other drivers on the track forces you to focus more intently than ever than when hot lapping. All drivers show signs of realism, but even with the hardest difficulty you can move through the field unrealistically, particularly on the first lap - crashing remains a worry, however, even if the damaged model is worth seeing over and over again. It’s an area too which hurts the overall racing experience, but online playing ranging up to eight players, propels it into the next gen release. To be honest real racers are less likely to allow you to fly past them and, other than some slight lag, performance was more than acceptable.
Many players ill prepared for the depth the game offers may discover the seemingly basic task too much of a good thing and hard to take. You obtain all the practice and qualifying sessions reflecting real life plus an addition: Race Car Evolution. In this mode the race team is permitted to set up the car suited best to the circuit. In fact, if you perform a number of laps whilst settings are tweaked you get a good race setup - and you don’t even have to fiddle with the settings yourself. It remains far easier, in fact, than setting up your car manually, but it can also take a long time, and probably results in far too much work for many players.
By far the biggest area of improvement over the PlayStation 2 game is presentation. If you’re ready on the starting grid with the camera panning across the racers you know you’re playing a game on a next-gen system and these fancy visuals are far more than just show. Then there is the sense of speed which remains by far the most striking improvement over previous games. As far as the PS3 is concerned you’ll find this sensation is unrivalled and you’ll soon discover the superb way in which your car reacts to each and every bump on the road. Also, when you drive over a curb it sounds right too, although the lack of rumble does hurt your overall immersion.
And, as far as the new hardware is concerned, and if you’ve been following the development for Formula One for PS3, you’ll no doubt have witnessed the wonderful effects of rain which the development team have invented. In fact, we can go as far to say that in wet weather the game really does look superb, although it must also be said that it still looks pretty great even when the sun is shining too! Also it moves at a nice solid frame rate, even if numerous cars are filling the screen.
Formula One fan’s don’t have a better console alternative to Sony’s debut PlayStation 3 effort, and, whilst it may not be a perfect re-recreation of the sport, it does many things very well. A word of advice might be that casual fans should stay away, unless they are prepared to invest a lot of time into learning circuits and how to drive the incredibly powerful vehicles.
Online play also adds some much desired human competition and it’s difficult not to be impressed by the work which has gone into the visual elements.
Formula One Championship Edition may well lag behind such big hitters as Resistance and MotorStorm relating to launch hype, yet it’s well worth the attention of all motorsport fans.
And you’ll find that with OpenWheeler your driving experience is truly enhanced. Built for PlayStation racing game enthusiasts it achieves unmatched realism via an accurate driver seat position plus with the best possible backside and shoulder support available which is ably delivered by the OpenWheeler game driving chair.And unlike all the other game racing seats on the market OpenWheeler’s foldable racing car seat can be adjusted via an extra sliding mechanism - which comes at no additional cost!
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