Commodore User

Ferrari Formula 1

Author: Mike Pattenden
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Commodore User #55

Ferrari Formula 1

No name is more famous in the world of classic sports cars than Ferrari. The Italian constructors have produced a line of cars unparalleled in speed, design and handling and nowhere is this better exemplified than in the frontline of motor racing: Formula 1. This simulation gives you the opportunity to test, adapt, drive and compete for the laurels of the Formula 1 Championship in the car that has won more Grand Prix than that of any other constructor.

That sounds like a helluva lot to squeeze into a game but, in true Electronic Arts' style, they've succeeded to a great extent. FF1 allows you to do all the things described above and more, like adapt the car in a wind tunnel, test the engine under laboratory conditions, work on it in the pits and in the garage at the test track in Fiorano, practise, qualify, warm up and race. What's best about it though is that it allows you to get as involved as much or as little as you want. You don't have to spend hours working your way through a season painfully qualifying, practising and resetting the car's specifications if you don't want to. You can, as I found myself eventually doing, just compete in the various grand prix races.

The game comes with a typically huge and detailed guide book to playing the game and this tells you all you need to know. It even tells you how to get at the wheel of your car. What it *doesn't* tell you as clearly is how to go straight into a race which, let's face it, everyone's going to want to do. Follow the Murray Pattenden way and you'll be on the starting grid in no time.

Ferrari Formula One

Firstly, stop laughing at the pathetic title music - it isn't indicative of the quality of the rest of the game. Let the game run through to the Fiorano test track and elect to race by going to the race control tower. This takes you back to the loading screen but also puts up a panel with a pointer. Move the pointer to Practice and click on the plus sign through to Race. It's also worth adjusting the distance. It's normally set on 18 kilometres which is a mere three or four laps of most circuits. There again, most grand prix races are closer to 300 kilometres. If you went through it doing every stage as you should by my reckoning it would take a day to complete one race.

What's it like to race? Well, one you're in the driver's seat it's not bad at all. The view you get is fairly accurately of the driver's own with the steering wheel and cockpit before you. If anything it's a bit high. The cockpit itself is full of the usual instruments, but they're fairly difficult to read and most are only of use at more advanced levels where you have to do the gear changes for yourself. Everything else is controlled via the mouse, including steering, braking and accelerating. And once you're moving round the tracks, it feels pretty good.

Graphically, FF1 is inconsistent. The still screens of detailed areas like the pits and the garage are excellent, whilst the more distant ones of the paddock and the test track are merely average. Out on the track, the courses are varied and surprisingly detailed. Monaco for example is clearly on the coast, even if it doesn't have that 'street' feel to it. All traks are painstakingly accurate. Imola, for example, has the acute Tosa bend where Nelson Piquet spun off last year at two hundred miles an hour. The car, and those of your opponents, leave a little more to be desired however. Whilst the rear view through your mirrors is effective, the other cars lack detail and suffer from the trap most racing games fall into - perspective. From a short distance away, they look absolutely huge. Also, the results of a crash, like Test Drive, are disappointing - no balls of flame or plumes of smoke. Don't programmers realise we're all a bit sick?

Sound is perhaps the game's biggest disappointment. There are a few good effects like the whizz of the pneumatic spanners, but had EA gone and sampled some engine noises it would really have given the game an authentic feel.

Nevertheless, Ferrari Formula 1 has more than any other racing game. The only thing that comes close is Revs and this is a lot more fun and a lot less hassle to play. With the Brazilian grand prix already over, I reckon all you boy and girl racers are going to get into it in a big way.

Mike Pattenden

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