Search For Posters!
  Join the SGN staff!
Help Wanted
Release Dates


About Us

The Sports

Partner Links
Auto Insurance Quote
Irvine Moving Companies
LA Moving Companies
Brand Name Shoes

F1 98 (PSX) Review

Background Info
Formula 1 98 is the third in a series of F1 racing games published by Psygnosis, following F1 (1996) and F1 Championship Edition [F1 CE], which appeared in 1997. The series has been distinguished by its solid graphics, multiple options, and good gameplay; however, a few flaws have kept it just out of the top rank of available racing games, especially in light of the number of quality titles that have appeared in the past two years. This edition marks the appearance of a new developer, Visual Sciences, in place of Bizarre Creations. The new crew had quite a challenge before it: keep what worked, improve where necessary.

Presentation/Graphics : 85
Once more, we break down graphics to menus, cars, and courses. The menu graphics are clean and simple; loading screens display colorful representations of vehicles. No complaints here. The cars appear somewhat boxy in comparison to their predecessors (as in real life), and detail suffers when more than a handful are on screen. Paint schemes resemble those of the eleven teams presented in the game. Tires leave skid marks and sometimes smoke; the player may toggle lens flare and maps (the latter includes a handful of display and zoom options). On-screen displays include laps (completed/total), race position, lap times (best/current), revs, gear, fuel gauge, and speed (mph or kph); the arcade version includes a time left per stage, while the Grand Prix simulation mode offers time intervals.

There are sixteen basic tracks available (F1 CE had eighteen). On the whole, the tracks are vivid and colorful, although marred by the frequent appearance of seams during a race. Moreover, the interaction of car, course, camera, and on-screen map leaves something to be desired. It's a challenge to anticipate turns and chicanes by simply watching the track, unless you spend a long time memorizing courses, the maps do not always show wrinkles in the track unless one uses the zoom option. Players may toggle the race line (showing the ideal path to follow) to assist their efforts to stay on the road. There are several weather options (sunny, rain, variable weather during a race, or random weather from race to race); in wet weather cars spray water as they brake and turn.

Players may choose from one of several camera angles, ranging from cockpit to high and behind. Complicating matters is the failure to incorporate a rear view mirror, making the 4x zoom map almost a necessity (the "look back button" simply does not cut it). The representation of the pit crew is adequate.

Presentation/Audio : 80
Car and track noises are acceptable renderings of the real thing and improvements on their predecessors; the music tracks are pretty mundane. Announcing crew Murray Walker and Martin Brundle offer their dry and sometimes wry commentary, complete with understating the obvious--although sometimes their comments lag behind the action. Walker's description of each track and advice during the overviews at the beginning of each Grand Prix session is helpful in learning each course's characteristics.

Interface/Options : 80
The pre-game menus are straightforward. Players can choose number of players (one player, two players/split screen, and two- and four-player link versions [the latter uses the split screen option on two screens]); game mode (arcade race, arcade time trial, arcade challenge, quick [arcade] race, Grand Prix single race, and Grand Prix championship); and game options (music, sound effects, and commentary volume; language; and controller configurations [a limited selection]).There are a number of display options (discussed above), as well as race options (transmission, number of laps, level of difficulty, steering assistance, braking assistance, and damage). Grand Prix races have additional options, including weather, failures, tire wear, fuel depletion, flags, and the usual car setup adjustments (suspension, brake discs and bias, front and rear downforce, fuel load, gears, and tires). Once you choose which of the eleven teams you will use, you may edit your driver's name. However, beware the long load times.

The controllers incorporate analog as well as digital versions, allowing you to combine stick steering with button brakes and acceleration. The game also uses force feedback to good effect. Memory card management options offer players the choice of loading all or selected pieces of information (you can save individual setups)--and the game recognizes multiple saves on one card (an improvement on F1 CE). Players may also choose between action reply (with control of the frames to be shown) and an extended replay--features not available in F1 CE.

Gameplay : 75
F1 98 is three racing games in one: an arcade version, the new arcade challenge option, and the Grand Prix simulation option. Depending on the options chosen, the arcade version can be ridiculously easy (chicane? what chicane?) or moderately challenging. Missing is one arcade feature of F1 CE--an arcade championship in which the player competed in small circuits, advancing to new circuits after achieving high finishes in the previous circuit. This option offered occasional and recreational players just enough of a challenge to keep them interested.

Instead, the new developers constructed the arcade challenge, a somewhat convoluted process designed to serve as a gradual introduction to Grand Prix mode. The cpu assigns the player to a different team for each race (no set up or race options are available) and runs the player through a series of races, with the car handling, quality of opponents, and changing race settings reflecting the evolution from arcade to Grand Prix simulation mode. While some players will find that this mode serves as a good way to slide into more skilled racing competition, others will prefer to toggle Grand Prix options and start from scratch in sim mode.

In Grand Prix mode, the game is indeed demanding, and the race itself is only part of the challenge. Racers first preview the track, then engage in up to three practice sessions, qualify, and then race. While the practice sessions can be extremely useful, you don't know how you are doing compared to the complete field; to find out that information during qualifying runs, stop in the pit and employ the "advance clock" option.

Oddly, for an F1 game, the driving skills demanded in Grand Prix mode are not those demanded in F1 racing. Since cars understeer, players will powerslide . . . but F1 cars aren't supposed to drive that way. Rather, drivers are supposed to anticipate turns, break, and then accelerate coming out of them. Here's where a combination of excessive speed on straightaways, camera angles, and so on combine to hinder the simulation aspects of the game. Players accelerate when they can, then come upon turns before they can break . . . and decided instead to powersteer. Unless damage is turned on, other cars will not much of a threat (they simply bounce away). If the player could anticipate turns better and brake going into them, the game would reward those gamers who used F1 driving techniques; instead, it's Gran Turismo time. Those looking for an accurate simulation of driving techniques will be disappointed.

Players who invest a good deal of time in refining racing techniques--or at least video game racing techniques--will want to drive with assistance options off in Grand Prix mode, but the number of options in both Grand Prix and arcade mode allow most players to find a combination of simulation and arcade features that suits their style and preferences. Still, unless the designers intentionally wanted to fashion a brainless arcade basic level, one wishes that there might be a bit more challenge without having to go all they way to simulation mode.

Difficulty: 80
Both arcade and Grand Prix mode offer three basic levels of difficulty; in addition, several of the driving options offer different levels of challenge. There's something for everybody here--which I view as a positive, aside from the reservations about arcade level noticed earlier. The arcade challenge may induce some players to explore their willingness to test their limits.

Overall : 80
What one makes of this game depends on what one expects of it. With the proper options in place, it will prove challenging and enjoyable but not overly taxing for the average player; for the racing aficionado who demands realism in his racing sims, there's bound to be somewhat of a letdown when it comes to maneuvering the car through the course. Owners of F1 CE who are not devoted video game racers should think twice before paying full price for this new edition. If there's any real disappointment, it's that a game that used to be a leader in its field has not kept up with the competition, and is in danger of slipping into the ranks of the also-rans.

By: Brooks Simpson 2/8/99

© 1998-2006 Sports Gaming Network. Entire legal statement. Feedback

Other Links:
[Free Credit Report  |   Car Insurance Quotes  |   Designer Shoes  |   Outdoor Equipment

MVP Baseball 2003
Street Hoops
Mad Catz Xbox Hardware

Inside Pitch 2003
MLB Slugfest 20-04
Tennis Masters Series