Ferrari Formula 1

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Computer & Video Games #78

Ferrari Formula 1

Fashions come and go in the games software business and generally come back again improved and changed.

The new 16-bit machine have put games manufacturers in a quandry - new, powerful computers are in abundance... new game ideas are, unfortunately, less numerous. We've seen the software houses parade in front of the 16-bit owners a whole back catalogue of computer games, ranging from Break-Out and Pac-Man.

Electronic Arts has taken the racing game scenario to the Amiga and expanded the idea far beyond the boundaries of the computer versions of Pole Position and OutRun, produced a computer game that is a sophisticated, painstakingly accurate and, in many ways, original simulation of racing a Formula One Ferrari in the Grand Prix World Championships. Where OutRun was frantic steering and pedal-pumping, Ferrari Formula One is a game of strategy, planning and team and engine management.

Ferrari Formula One

And this is where the game's main fault lies - there's no sensation of speed or the excitement of travelling at over 200mph on some of the world's most dangerous and exhilarating race tracks.

Every other imaginable aspect of managing a Formula One team racing the car are allowed for in the game. Many months of research and planning time have obviously been spent on producing the game, but when you actually try burning rubber, the Formula One Ferrari does become quite a disappointment considering how good the rest of the package is.

Electronic Arts may well claim that they have set out to create an authentic simulation and not another copy of OutRun. While we can be thankful that the game's not OutRun all over again, I do think that any racing simulation should tax the player's driving reflexes as well as his or her brain.

Ferrari Formula One

That one criticism apart, let's see what the game has to offer.

The game begins with a demo mode which gives you the chance to familiarise yourself with all the instruments and gauges in the cockpit of the car, and the race information that is displayed in the top right-hand corner of the screen. The instrumentation is comprehensive: fuel gauges, tyre wear indicators, rev counter, oil pressure indicator and the turbo boost control are all displayed and add a lot to the professional and slick graphics of the game.

The rear view mirrors in particular are very impressive, and you can actually get a fair idea how many cars are behind you - and how close they are!

Ferrari Formula One

You can at this point, if you wish, go straight into the first race of the season, the *most* sensible course of action is to go the Fiorano race track - the home of the Ferrari Formula One team - to get your car tuned up properly and get some practise driving the car on the Fiorano test track.

When you arrive in Fiorano a display of the Fiorano paddock is shown. From here the simulation lets you test your car on the track; go into the pits for checks on the car; take the car into the garage for major overhauls (like replacing the engine); test the car's aerodynamics in the wind tunnel or you can load up the lorries and fly across the world to compete in one of the Championship Grand Prixes.

The game allows you to play at three different levels - Formula One, Two and Three. It's best to start the game at the Formula Three level as you don't need to worry about changing gear and the team manager makes suggestions as to tyre combinations, the suspension, turbo-boost and gearbox settings.

Ferrari Formula One

The Wind Tunnel part of the game is one of the best graphic screens in Ferrari Formula One. In this section you can alter the angle of the wings of your Ferrari to make it more aerodynamic and change the car's road handling characteristics. The graphics of the wind whipping over the top of the car are brilliant.

Once you've taken care of setting up the car, it's time to hit the tarmax and try out your beautiful racing machine.

It's here that you must learn how to treat your car and how to steer, I imagine, from complexity and detail of the game, that the car steers very much like a real Ferrari - it's difficult. It is very easy to oversteer and you'll often drive off the track or end up doing an 180 degree spin.

Ferrari Formula One

Having mastered driving the car (!), it's time to load up the lorries and take off for the first race of the season - The Brazilian Grand Prix in Rio.

Each Grand Prix begins with a practice lap two days before the race, in the afternoon is the first qualifying race where you must try your hardest to get a good lap time. The next day, there is another practice and the final qualifying race.

On the morning of the race, there is a 30 minute warming-up session, and then it's your opportunity to get on the starting grid and become world champion.

Apart from my criticism about not feeling as if I was driving at 200mph, the game is undoubtedly a classy piece of software that will appeal to anyone with a real interest in motor racing.

Ferrari Formula One is sophisticated, complex, testing and very absorbing game perhaps its only problem is that it's not very exciting.