Official Formula One Racing
Windows - 1999
Description of Official Formula One Racing Windows
OK, before I start, I have to admit something: I'm possibly the worst driver ever - only in games you understand, in real life, my friend Clare is the worst driver ever, but that's another story. So you can understand that when I offered to do this review, I knew that my whole experience of the game would be from grass verges and the back of the pack. Problem is, I love driving games, and no matter how useless I am or how frustrated I get knowing that I could have taken that corner in real life, I still have to play them.
Racing for Glory
Official Formula 1 Racing features a number of different types of races that you can take part in. These include a Quick Race, allowing you to skip to the Grand Prix circuit of your choice and race for any number of laps, the Single Race, which is similar to the Quick Race but you have the choice of going through other stages in the race (such as selecting your team, choosing the level and selecting the race behaviour - more on this later), the Practise Race, which allows you to drive on any of the GP circuits as a free trial run and the Championship.
The Championship sees you taking on each GP track in turn and customising your player profile and team before you do so. Before you start a race, there are a number of options that you can choose. These include a helicopter ride to look over the track - its a nice touch and you get a feel for the track from the air and commentary that gives you advice about the circuit (such as good passing places - but the view from the air is constantly changing and so it's difficult to keep up with the track). Other options are a free practise, where you just drive around learning the track, a qualifying lap (although you can choose the computer to select random starting positions too) or have a warm-up drive, which records your time and shows this in comparison to the actual race times later. As well as the races, you also have to customise a number of things - such as which track you want to start your championship with, which team you want to race for and set up your player name.
There are a number of features to point out during the actual race. For example, after a crash, an arrow immediately appears telling you which way to go round the track. This saves driving round for ages the wrong way. This is worth pointing out because in a number of racing games that I have played, the wrong way sign doesn't appear immediately and you lose a lot of ground in retracing your steps.
If you have crashed, a number of things are likely to happen to your car, for example, I often lose tyres after crashes, this, whilst slowing you down, doesn't stop you limping round to the pit stop to sort your car out (more on that in a minute). Other damage can be more serious, for example, if your steering goes, you can't manoeuvre yourself out of the crash position, so the race is technically over, a reverse option for this kind of situation would have proved useful.
If you cut corners (as I often did) you get a stop-go penalty. This means that when you go in for a pit stop you are held back for a couple of seconds for being naughty. Unfortunately, the penalty wasn't enough to stop me, because the time it would have taken me to negotiate sharp corners was worth the time penalty.
There are frequent messages sent to you by your support team. These tell of damage, pit stop calls and your performance in the last lap. Some messages, such as "you need new tyres" do seem to get a tad repetitive - especially when it is announced when you've just started the race. No matter how much I screech round corners I know I don't need new tyres after 10 seconds of racing.
Charging the Pits
So back to this pit stop business. When you go to the pit stop (because you are called or you can't manage to get any further without going in) you get to choose what to change about your car. If you need new tyres, you select "tyres", if you need the wings looking at, you can choose to do this, and if you have the petrol element switched on (where you need to fill up every so often), you can sort this out.
You can choose to set up your car before you start the race. This involves going into the garage and customising certain elements. On the car this includes looking at the tyres, brakes, wings, gearbox, suspension etc, all of which can be modified to suit you (and there's explanations of what to choose in the manual). Other garage features include checking the circuit map and weather, organising a pit stop strategy and checking the fastest times on the track as set by the computer, your player and the 1998 season's best.
Built to Your Specifications
You can change your view, from having an external view of the car, to a helicopter view, to a cockpit view. I found the cockpit to be the easiest, as you see the road as you would if you were actually driving round the track. I crashed a lot less with this view as well. The helicopter view gets a little confusing as it spins round, following you, and you are trying to keep the view still to drive the track. I didn't stay with that view for long.
The controls are customisable too. You can either choose to drive using a steering wheel, joystick or keyboard. The keys used with the keyboard setting are quite straightforward, but can be changed round if you don't like the set-up. As well as the keys, you can also choose to change the language (a choice of English, French, German, Italian and Spanish), the units used for measuring length (kilometres or miles), the units used for measuring petrol (litres, gallons or US gallons) and the units used for measuring temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit).
The manual is great. It is packed full of information, not only about the game, but the tracks too. There are details on how best to drive each track, a brief history of it and the best lap times from the 1998 season. It's not essential information for playing the game, but it's a nice little extra bit of information for people who are likely to be interested in the sport.
One problem I have is that the general menu did get a bit confusing. It's not a major issue, but when I was setting up the races and championships I thought that the series of screens customising team, player, track etc, done through a series of return, escape and the arrow keys, could have been done better.
The game supports multiplay for up to 12 players through an LAN, a modem or using the TCP/IP protocol. When you select to play in multiplay, you have the choice of creating a new game or joining one already in progress. Multiplayer races are always played in Quick Race mode and controlled by the creator of the session. They decide what driving aids are used, what circuit is raced on etc. Good idea to stop all drivers having different customisations.
Official Formula 1 Racing is quite fun, as racing games go, but I think I would have enjoyed it more had I had a steering wheel so I could really get in the action. Apart from that, I thought that some touches were nice, such as the technical improvements that can be made to the car and the information included in the manual. There were a couple of annoying little aspects, but nothing to stop me recommending this as a good Formula 1 game.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Adam 2019-12-12 1 point
Does anybody knows how to run it on Windows 10? Launcher does not open, and OF1R_SW3D.exe runs only a video and the OF1R FILE ERROR telling that file is missing or corrupted and game should be reinstalled. Compatibility settings do not help. I have an original on CD, but didn't get it to work either.
Criss 2019-10-30 0 point
Play in my P3 550Mhz + Diamond Monster 2 (Voodoo 2) + SB Live MP3. Love this game
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