Chris Sell
23 Mar, 2007

Formula 1 Championship Edition Review

PS3 Review | Qualifying in pole position.
Making good Formula 1 games can’t be an easy job. Its very nature makes for a very restrictive game. For starters, collisions are a big no-no due to the fragile shape of F1 cars. Ditto for leaving the track as a tire full of gravel can often result in valuable points lost. And there’s the whole business of pit stops, technical problems ruining your races and safety cars destroying a well built lead. Thankfully, Sony have been making them for years and with the power of the PS3 could this be their best yet?

The first thing that hits you when starting up Formula 1 Championship Edition for the first time is the sheer amount of options and settings there are for you to tweak around with. Given the seriousness of F1, and the dedicated following it has, putting out a game that’s anything less than authentic is pretty pointless. At the same time, to maximize sales it wouldn’t be wise to release a strictly pure simulation of the sport either. Wisely, SCE Studios Liverpool has made this game as adjustable as you could possibly wish for.

For amateur racers it’s great having things like braking assist, traction control and an incredibly useful virtual racing line that pinpoints where you should accelerate, brake and turn by using a simple green, red, yellow colour scheme. In a lot of cases it’s not just an ‘on/off’ option either, there are varying degrees of driving aid too so as you get better you can gradually turn down the traction control to a lower setting for example or replace the virtual racing line with coloured markers instead.

Form an orderly queue please!

Form an orderly queue please!
Of course if you prefer pure realism in your racing games Formula 1 Championship Edition will fulfill your needs also. Turn off all the driving aids, turn down the traction control to 1, put the difficulty up to hard, switch on vehicle damage, remove all of the HUD and general screen clutter and make sure your camera is in the cockpit view and given the perfectly smooth control you’ve got yourself one of the most authentic F1 driving experiences since the Geoff Crammond games on the PC a decade ago. You can go as deep as you want, even to the extent of setting up your car differently for different tracks. Using something called ‘Race Car Evolution’, this mode allows your race team to set up your car to best suit the circuit. By performing a number of laps under certain condition your settings are tweaked giving you a good race setup without you having to tinker with endless settings yourself. It's time consuming but it’s far easier than manually setting up your car, especially as many will be afraid to alter something in case it actually makes your car worse.

Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, the nuisances of Formula 1 itself are the very things that you will either love or loathe about this game. Fans will appreciate the attention to detail that has been put in here. From being told the level of grip each tire is currently producing, planning necessary pit stops and receiving time penalties for corner cutting or dangerous driving, these are the kind of things that would seem pointless and may even irritate gamers not interested in F1. What other racing game do you have to worry about fuel or not be able to overtake for a short while just because a coloured flag says so?

It’s not a fault of the game, it’s just the game replicating its source subject. The exact same thing could be said of its career mode too. Starting off at the bottom as a mere test driver you spend a fair amount of time doing just that – testing. This isn’t something that the masses would enjoy but for an F1 nut it’s the equivalent of what many other games do. With Pro Evolution Soccer’s Master League you start off in the lower leagues with a bunch of unknowns before building an elite team to go on and win the European Cup. In Virtua Tennis you start your career needing to take part in plenty of training exercises before you’re able to compete with best and win Wimbledon. The career mode here is the exact same deal, starting off with a lot of hard work before the better teams pick you up and you’re going toe-to-toe with Fernando Alonso.

No idea what track this is, do you?

No idea what track this is, do you?
For those who simply want to race there are Quick Race and Time Trial (complete with target times to beat) options as well as a fully fledged Championship mode to sink your teeth into. Allowing you to choose from any car from any team in the 2006 season you play through the entire F1 season in full. By ‘in full’ we mean the whole Grand Prix weekends are here with practice rounds available for you to test drive the circuit at your leisure before the three qualifying rounds take place. True to F1 rules the qualifying round is split into 3 rounds as the drivers are whittled down each round to determine their starting position on the grid for the race proper. Commendably you can pick and choose what parts of the ‘weekend’ you do so if you want to jump straight into qualifying (or even the race, though you’ll start at the back of the grid) you can do just that.

When you’ve had enough of that there’s also an impressive online mode to test your driving skills. Multiplayer is restricted to online only as there is no split screen play but its easy to forgive given the quality of the online setup. It’s clear to see that a good deal of thought has gone into trying to make racing enjoyable for everyone. Collisions can be turned off but even when they’re on they are handled with such intelligence that you’ll appear as a ghost should you leave the track and you’ll remain that way until your speed picks up which hugely reduces the amount of needless crashes through slow drivers recovering onto the track. Corner cutting is punished with temporary speed restrictions too so even cheaters can’t ruin things here.

The highlight of the F1 season - the Monaco GP.

The highlight of the F1 season - the Monaco GP.
Few would argue that Formula 1 Championship Edition is the best looking game of the PS3 launch. The cars themselves are certainly the star of the show, modeled to perfection and each possessing that same glossy shine that we’ve all seen subtly reflecting beams of sunlight on TV. The tracks themselves are equally as impressive. The relatively dull nature of F1 circuits (lots of grey tarmac, a few trees and the odd gravel pit make up most of the trackside environment) mean the quality of the graphics is rarely put to as much use as they should be but things still look beautiful regardless, especially in the rain. The game never looks more impressive than it does when the weather takes a turn for the worst and rain starts crashing down on the screen, cunningly obscuring your view.

The sheer sense of speed is equally as impressive, few games have captured the feel of high speed racing as well as this one. Regarding the presentation of Formula 1 Championship Edition it is exactly what you’ll find on TV. From the on screen information to James Allen providing commentary, it’s authentic F1. On the subject of commentary it’s not actually half bad. It never excites, this is James Allen after all, but it’s believable and it all flows together without an uncomfortable pauses or sharp changes in tone. Even when reading through mid-race standings it never sounds like a cut and paste job like some games do. It is like they recorded every possible combination of race positions and read out the name accordingly.

Formula 1 Championship Edition is one of those types of games where you can almost totally ignore the score at the bottom of the page because if you’re an F1 fan then its faults are minor and you will love this. The fact that it controls superbly well and contains some of the best tracks in the world means that if you’re a racing game fan you could almost completely ignore that this is an F1 game and enjoy it solely on its driving merits. The dry, precise nature of F1 mean it’ll never capture the hearts of people in the same way something like Gran Turismo does with it’s desirable cars and scenic tracks. But in setting out to make a great F1 game SCE Studios Liverpool have done just that.
The Score
Whether you love or hate Formula 1 there’s little denying the quality of Formula 1 Championship Edition. Accept it for what it is and there’s a fine racing game here.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Formula 1 Championship Edition Content

New Formula One images screech into view
20 Oct, 2006 Better do up your buttons..
E3 2006: Formula One PS3 images
09 May, 2006 How's it shaping up?
PlayStation 3 Australian Media Launch Report
24 Feb, 2007 Hands-on with the launch lineup.
7 years ago
Got it, love it. Very satisfying and incredibly technical game- a good balancer with the hectic madness of Resistance and Motorstorm. I was a bit gutted by the lack of splitscreen, but the online component more than makes up for that. Never been a massive F1 fan, but this has been one of those games I didn't expect to like that much, but it turns out that I love it (much like Ridge Racer 6 on the 360).
7 years ago
Good review. but why a 7.5? did u not enjoy it personally? after all you said there's not much else they could do with the game.
7 years ago
Article wrote
No idea what track this is, do you?
Looks like Turkey to me but the angle is quite shocking so it's a bit hard to tell. Could also be Magny-Cours in France, but again the angle makes it hard to tell.

Anyway, nice review. I have been interested in this title for a while purely because well, apart from the Sony releases each year there hasn't been much in the way of F1 games recently. Obviously this is also another Sony release, but it actually looks like they've really tried with this one and yeah it's interesting to me as a result. I'll be picking it up when I get my PS3, definitely. Assuming I get a PS3 before '07 is released anyway...
7 years ago
The Brett wrote
Got it, love it. Very satisfying and incredibly technical game- a good balancer with the hectic madness of Resistance and Motorstorm. I was a bit gutted by the lack of splitscreen, but the online component more than makes up for that. Never been a massive F1 fan, but this has been one of those games I didn't expect to like that much, but it turns out that I love it (much like Ridge Racer 6 on the 360).
icon_eek.gif You can't be serious? Admittedly I've not played this, but the demo's I've seen, feedback I've heard, it's such a poor game it's not that funny. It reminds me of a broken record when I keep hearing "I was so disappointed..." There's not been to many great racing games release that meet a good medium of graphics, versus technical setup.

Grand Prix 2 & 3, as well as rFactor are what you should be saying are good. It gives you great value for money, & the add/modifications on's are worth it.
7 years ago
Having played this game quite substantially i have no doubt it's one of the most unforgiving (but incredible!) gameplay.

It is a very good game.
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/9o

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
  Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
  Studio London


Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.