Where Microprose's F1 gp2 Is An Out-and-out simulation of Formula 1, in which the set-up of your car, your race strategy and a dash of tactical thinking are all as important as driving fast. Formula I is an arcade game through and through. Basically, it's aimed squarely at anyone who likes the idea of launching into a full FI season, but would rather forget all the tedious bits - fiddling with car set-ups, poring over telemetry, appearing on-stage at the Albert Hall with the Spice Girls - in favour of arcade thrills and spills. Think The Need For Speed, RAC Rally or Screamer for FI fans.
There are two main modes - Arcade and Grand Prix - each with three levels of difficulty. Arcade takes a pure coin-op approach, with checkpoints and time limits, in which you have to finish in the points to progress through the season. Grand Prix mode is more realistic - although nowhere near the complexity of MicroProse's offering -but does have practice and qualifying sessions, pit stops, collision damage and tyre wear and simple car set-ups. There's also a Ladder mode, in which you challenge increasingly difficult opponents in Grand Prix, and a Duel facility where you just race one other driver. The licence is for the 1995 season, which means Adelaide rather than Melbourne, Schumacher's still at Benetton, Villeneuve doesn't exist and Nigel Mansell is one of the four McLaren drivers available. Oh, and you can't alter the drivers' names. There are also options for customising your own little mini-Championships by racing at whatever courses you want, and for messing about with the number of other drivers in the race.
Driving in my car
Although more action-orientated than F1GP2, braking distances, lap times and race times have all been accurately reproduced. At the easier levels, it shouldn't be long before you break records and win races and Championships. For example, you should be able to do reasonably well with a Sauber at medium level, or win the Championship with a McLaren or Ferrari. It's advisable to switch collision damage off - not because you're a scumbag cheat, but because the computer drivers go for you like they're Jean Alesi and you've just admitted you shagged their mother. Get alongside them, between them and the racing line, and they'll run you off the road even if you're two laps ahead. Think Prost versus Senna. You'll soon get used to it.
At easier settings, you can make up for any deficiencies in car speed by having the odd 'flirtation' with a stretch of kerbing or even, if you let go of the accelerator, a few yards of grass. But try it at the hardest setting, or touch the accelerator when you're on the grass, and you'll be heading sideways towards the Armco.
Pretty pictures, but...
You could argue about the presentation. For example, the split times and other race information looks exactly like the telly, but is inconveniently placed to check out while you're driving; the Murray Walker commentary is too repetitive. It also lags behind the action. Both aspects would benefit from being more realistically driver-orientated (pit-crew messages and advice into your helmet's headset, for example) - but Psygnosis would probably argue that you're getting into simulation territory there. And while we're moaning, we might as well mention that the save and load game screens are too many menus down, and the multi-player option for just two people is is not up to scratch.
Overall though, Formula One is a fast - moving, superb looking arcade racer - if you have the hardware, of course. There are 17 tracks to learn, a variety of options to give the game longevity, a choice of cars to use, and even varied weather conditions to add a bit of mind-boggling aquaplaning-based fun.
As long as you bear in mind that this is an arcade game and not a simulation, you'll find it's a great laugh. If you're after a bit of FI fun without the complexity of a full-on simulation, look no further.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode