'F1 2002' marks yet another third party release from
Electronic Arts, thanks to their long-term deal with
Destination Software. You'd imagine that they'd at least
pay out those few extra pennies for the 2003 license
because as soon as this title hits the shelves, it already
appears out of date. As with the FIFA series of football
titles, this latest racer allows you to play as 'real'
teams and drivers which should, for F1 fans in particular,
make winning and loosing that much more satisfying and
As with almost every other genre, racing games seem
to contain a handful of options which are apparently
compulsory in order for them to even reach the selves
of your local gaming outlet. 'F1 2002' sticks closely
to these guidelines.
First up is the 'Quick Race' option, which allows
you to sample all 17 available circuits in a three,
five or ten lap race. This obviously allows you to practice
your driving but you'll also have the opportunity to
clock up some lap and circuit rankings.
'Season 2002' is the reason most people will purchase
this game rather than similar titles and the word 'official'
means you're in for a grueling series of races. This
section challenges you to qualify for each circuit and
then actually race it. Finishing positions are awarded
with points dependent on actually doing well in the
race and then it's onto the next circuit. The final
option falls neatly between the 'Quick' and 'Season'
as it allows you to choose which tracks you wish to
race for your own mini tournament.
The multiplayer option allows you and a friend (providing
they also have a copy of the game) to battle it out
in some head to head races. As usual, this is the best
way to indulge in some 'fair' racing as human opposition
generally makes more mistakes than their computer controlled
counterpart making for closer competition. All your
saving is done via a driver profile, which you create
before you start to race and which includes your name,
driver and even which team you represent. This not only
stores your points but also various statistics about
your races such as fastest lap or finishing position.
Whilst this is more information than most of us need
to know, this is the official F1 racer so if you do
go ahead and buy this as opposed to other racers on
the market, there's a good chance you're pretty serious
about racing anyway.
The control system is both simple and responsive
and as you'll only ever be required to steer the car,
accelerate or brake you can spend the rest of the time
trying to judge those hairpin bends and nudging up another
place past some unsuspecting driver. It's all arcade
stuff really but if you require a little more of a challenge
you can always switch over to manual gears option and
change them via the shoulder buttons. The collision
detection is well above average, so collide with a car
on a high-speed corner and you'll spin out of control
although if you connect with the rear of another car,
you'll still simply be bumped back.
The game looks outstanding throughout with everything,
from the cars and tracks to the initial presentation,
of such a high standard that it's hard to criticize
any visual element. Developer Magic Pockets have managed
to capture the various elements of F1 that make it so
exciting and push the whole experience into a tiny cart.
What really separates this title, however, are the finer
details such as lens flare as you're driving into the
sun or the skid marks on the track whilst exiting a
There is one disappointment though - pulling into
the pits reveals no mechanics scurrying around your
car but rather a simple slow down as you pass your garage
and then it's back onto the track. It's only a minor
niggle as most races don't require you to visit the
pits anyway but it would have taken little time and
effort to include some short animation or visual indication
that at least something was being done to your car.
Sound & Music
Like the visuals, the audio is of an incredibly high
standard and the initial theme music by Shin'en will
blow you away. It immerses you in the world of F1 almost
immediately and is exactly the sort of music that accompanies
any televised racing event.
The sound effects are equally impressive with engines
whirring and cars skidding throughout the races whilst
the cars gears step down as soon as you lift your foot
off the gas. There's no commentary but having recently
watched a racing event, other than indicating who's
in the lead, there's usually very little anyway. Basically,
this is how sound should be utilized within a game and
it's clear that as much care and consideration has been
given to the audio as the visuals. Excellent stuff.
From the minute you start up F1 2002 there's absolutely
no question that it's one of the best looking and sounding
racers to hit the GBA. We've seen a fair few good-looking
games in the past but with reasonably shallow game play.
F1 2002 just happens to be really entertaining too.
The cars are responsive and the tracks are challenging
and with 17 of them you're likely to be racing for some
time before you are even close to completing the game.
If F1 is your thing then this is a game that you seriously
need to consider adding to your collection.