F1 2001 (PC) Review
Many people thought F1 2000 was released before
it was ready; probably rushed because of the release of GP3, which may have also been
premature. Both games seemed to have a decent physics model, but the graphics
battle was won by GP3. I wasn't particularly happy with either one, but looking
for an F1 sim to play, GP3 stayed on my drive and was played for a while. Unfortunately,
I never bothered with the patches for F1 2000. As far as I was concerned, EA
Sports' slogan was wrong. IT (whatever "it" is) wasn't in the
game. The "it" I was looking for was a total F1 environment.
Patches for F1 2000 were released, then came
Championship Season, and now F1 2001. I suppose the easiest thing to do in
this review would be to keep comparing F1 2001 with GP3 or F1 2000. I'm not going to
do that. When I first got the game for review, I was disappointed; but, when I installed the update it made all the difference in the
world. A message to EA Sports: release the games when they're ready, not before.
Had the update not been available when I did this review, the game would have
been on my shelf along with my opinion of it, and of EA Sports. This review is
based on the game with the update installed.
Presentation/Graphics : 92
I'd describe graphics in 6 categories
with a basic breakdown as: terrible, passable, or good, but the "good"
category can be broken down into sub-categories: cartoon-like, surreal, and
photo-realistic. Sure, terrible and passable can have the sub-categories, but if
the graphics aren't "good," it really doesn't matter. Whether it's
better to have cartoon, surreal or realistic graphics depends on the game.
Certainly Midtown Madness 2 is comfortable with cartoon-like graphics. A big
part of the charm of Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed is its surreal,
dream-like graphics as you zip down Zone Industrielle at night with the graphics
enforcing the feeling of loneliness. Surreal graphics are mood setting. They are
the way you remember an emotional event. The game "Unreal" is very
much at home with a slightly cartoon-like and mostly surreal combination of
So, graphics immerse you
into a game, and understanding this, the only type of graphics appropriate for a
modern F1 sim is photo-realistic. And that, my friends, is exactly what you get
with F1 2001.
I tested the game
with a Voodoo 5, 5500 and a retail Radeon 8500. Before I go on I should post my
system specs so you'll have an idea of what to expect.
Voodoo 5 5500 OR
Retail Radeon 8500
(1.0x) motherboard (440BX chipset)
overclocked to 1071 Mhz
256 MB of PC133
cas 2 memory (Micron)
Soundworks FPS2000 speakers
PC-DVD Encore Dxr3
75GXP 46GB (7200rpm) hard drive @ ATA66
1/2" floppy drive
SMC network card
(for cable modem)
InWin 500 full
tower case w/extra fans and cooling holes
21" monitor with BNC connection
Cordless Keyboard and Mouse
For this review, I
used a Thrustmaster
Ferrari FF Wheel and Act Labs
As always, keep in mind that 'state
of the art graphics' is very dependent on the release date of the game you're
exploring. What's great today may be silly tomorrow. Also, visual graphics are
an interpretation of the user.
being said, I'd have to say that F1 2001 has the best graphics of any modern F1
sim, and probably the best graphics of any racing game. All the adjustments are
there, and then some. To increase frame rates on slower computers, you can
choose to decrease the detail level and/or decrease the image quality. Each is
independent of the other. The adjustments for visual quality on the other cars,
background scenery and your own cockpit are also all independent, as are special
effects like dust, etc. I can't think of anything that's left out to give you
the best possible image for your hardware. With the V5500, there were some anomalies.
In the distance, the grandstands danced slightly as did a couple other things,
but it didn't affect game play. By changing some graphics quality settings from
Full to High, I was able to average over 40 fps at 1280, 16 bit resolution in practice.
With a full field of cars, the rates did drop but further adjustments made it
very playable. When the mirrors are turned on, both video cards lose up to 11
fps depending on where you are on the track.
the Radeon 8500 installed, the graphics displayed perfectly. It didn't bog down
the way the V5500 did. Although I was able to easily run at 1600, 32 bit
resolution, I ran at 1280, 32 bit so I could compare the video cards' frame
rates equally. Most of my testing was done with the Radeon and the graphics were
spectacular. If I have a primary gripe about modern racing sim graphics, including
this one to some extent, it's that you can sometimes tell the tires are made up
of polygons. They are not completely round. At times, even in F1 2001, this
showed slightly. Not always, not much, but sometimes.
can't stand racing with mirrors turned off, so I had them on for most of the
tests. I'm also very picky about high detailed graphics, but was able to turn
some things down in F1 2001 and still be more than satisfied with the results. I
easily averaged 60 fps, and at times over 80 fps were seen. In other words, with
my system this sim is very playable.
modern sims with decent graphics seem to specialize in either background
appearance or car appearance. F1 2001 does both very well. The cockpits and
steering wheels are different in each car. The default cockpit Field of View is
set at 77. I preferred to set it at 83. (In the folder: \F1 2001\Save\default.cfg)
There are other driving views
including rear, TV cockpit and bumper cam.
all the tracks were, again, visually spectacular, their accuracy varied track to
track. I'm going to guess that, like me, most of you haven't actually driven all
of these tracks in a modern F1 car. However, we've probably watched tons of
races on TV and have an idea of when the elevation changes take place and where,
in general, things should be on the track. As long as a track is a good
representation of the real thing, I'm not a real stickler on perfect accuracy.
Let's suffice it to say that some tracks are more accurate than others, but all
are done well enough to let me pretend they're the real thing. They all have the
The weather modeling is all right,
visually, but not spectacular. You do get the feeling of the weather, but you
don't get good transitions from wet to dry surfaces. For example, if you're
under the bridge at Suzuka (for example) facing the concrete on the side of the
bridge, it's raining just as hard under the bridge as it is elsewhere on the
track. One nice visual effect is
that you can see changes to your setup. Not just wings, but ride height and
camber, etc. are visually changed. So, while weather effects aren't portrayed
perfectly, the overall graphics presentation is very good while you're driving.
The only minor drawback I could see is that the AI cars in front of me disappeared
too soon and reappeared abruptly when I closed in on them again. This happened
with both video cards and with the draw distance set to maximum. I wouldn't be
surprised if there's an unofficial fix for this somewhere.
Naturally, the faster your computer, the more special effects you'll be able to
Presentation/Audio : 85
portion of the game is complete, very good, but not great. All the sounds are
there: engine, road noise, wind, everything. At louder volumes they are quite
convincing. I didn't notice the difference in sound between the Ferrari and
Williams, for instance, so I'm assuming all the engine sounds are the same. Increasing
the the throttle, I could hear the intake and exhaust separately. Under the
bridge at Suzuka, I could hear cars going overhead as well as those coming from
behind me and on other parts of the track. I don't think I could give a perfect
score for audio unless all the engine sounds from individual cars were modeled
after high quality recordings. However, the sounds are certainly better than
what you hear on a regular TV.
By: Gary DeRoy (GTX_SlotCar) 1/26/02
Interface/Options : 90
Once again, F1 2001 is pretty
complete. Race options include Driving School, Test Day, Quick Race, Grand Prix, Championship
and Multi-Player . As you choose cars and tracks, they're featured,
rotating in the center of the screen. You can grab them with the cursor and turn
them to any angle. The vehicle setups are done in simple and advanced
screens so even beginners can have some fun trying different settings. The
default setups for each track are good for a couple cars but not so hot for
others. The advanced screens give you just about everything (I don't think I saw
fuel mixture) for tuning your engine, gears, aerodynamics and
suspension. The force feedback options are sparse but, thankfully,
you can tweak them to your heart's delight in the game files. The options for
graphics quality are numerous and all options are laid out quite well. The
choices for AI difficulty include strength and aggressiveness. Except for
advanced force feedback settings which must be done in the configuration files
and therefore lower this score, the only other thing that I can think of that's
missing is the ability to control how fast your inputs (brake, gas, steering) go
to full. You can slow down the initial input. If you think your
brakes come on too quickly, you can adjust a slider to make it more gradual (non-linear), so 1/2 pedal travel is only 1/4 braking power. But, there is no back-side adjustment to make full brakes come on sooner, like full braking at 3/4 pedal
travel. This adjustment can really customize how your pedals feel and I wish all
games had it. One of the few games that does have this is NFS:PU. With it, I set
up my brakes, gas and steering to feel exactly the way I want them to.
There's one other thing that could be
troublesome. In the same way that the force feedback settings can be
tailored in the game's files, so can the physics. It probably wouldn't be too
hard to make your car handle like it was on rails on dry or wet pavement. I'm
not sure if this could be a problem for people who take on-line racing a bit too
Replays are not done in full screen.
You can save hot laps and entire sessions, but you can't edit them.
Gameplay : 90
EA Sports has done a good job making
a racing sim that can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike. If you were to
turn on all the driver's assistance, I'd almost think the cars would drive
themselves, but if you turn them all off, hold on. It's a totally different
feeling and a believable experience.
The F1 2001 season is represented by all 11 teams and 22 drivers.
If you turn their AI capabilities down, you catch them on the straights, but
they're still pretty quick in the corners. If you are a beginner or just want to
have some fun, try the
driving school. It shows the lines
you should take and gives you a ride in an F1 trainer (2-seater).
With 1% added to the Dead Zone for
the wheel, the steering was smooth and precise. This is a real driver's game. I
made a few adjustments in the game files for the force feedback effects and they
were just about perfect. A lot of time went into writing this part of the game. F1 2001
doesn't use iForce for programming force feedback. This had me baffled
for a while. The effects were good enough to be Constant forces (Vector Forces
in iStudio) but I could see the effects of some Spring force programming. This
seemed impossible. Either I was completely off base or this was the best example
of Spring Force programming I'd ever seen. Through SGN and my own sources, I was
contacted by James Hawkins of EA Europe and then by Gjon Camaj of Image Space
Inc. I don't want to bore the average reader with a lot of technical details,
but in a nutshell, F1 2001 essentially uses a combination of both Constant Force and Spring
Force programming. (Constant forces are updated several time a second. Spring
forces are left on until they they are turned off.) The beauty of this combination is that less processing power is used
for the force feedback. The effects are actually generated using a Direct Input
periodic effect and offset periodic effect. In simple terms, they are like
Spring and Constant forces. Periodic effects for things like walls and
self-centering, and offset periodic for things that are updated during game
play, like steering forces. The results are smooth, believable effects, fully
customizable, without the "center hump" feeling in the wheel and with less processor
usage. Those of you who know me and my work on force feedback wheels and
settings on Tweaks & Reviews will understand my excitement over this. If
you've been holding off on a force feedback steering wheel, this game is a good
reason to get one.
acceleration effects are also transmitted to the wheel. Once you get used to it,
this added sensation helps to warn you when the car will spin on
acceleration, for example. I tuned out most of the acceleration vibration, but
left a bit in for the braking.
About the only aspect of game play I don't like is the absence of AI drivers in
multi-player. Sometimes when you hook up with a buddy, it's nice to have a
couple AI drivers in there to make things interesting.
If this score seems a bit high, bear with me. The game stands on its own with several
tracks to learn, vehicle setups to conquer, AI that can be set quite aggressive
and multi-player capability. If you're a beginner, it could be quite a while
from the time you go to driver's school to the time you can win races without
driving aids against AI players that are set to over 100% strength and maximum aggressiveness.
An expert driver knows he'll never master a track, so as long as he likes the
scenery and feel of the cars, he won't mind spending endless hours trying to
find the perfect line and chop hundredths of a second off his time. This, along
with multi-player support should ensure that any F1 racing fan won't get bored
with this game; putting it aside only when something better comes along.
to further add to the replay value, there are free, 2nd party add-ons for new tracks,
updated tracks and cars with added detail, new sounds and cockpits, and even a
complete car set of FIA GT cars with their own physics. It's like having two
games in one.
Overall : 91
F1 2001 is, to me, the best modern F1
racing sim to date. I'm fussy about graphics and I'm fussy about force feedback
and how well cars drive. I expect a decent physics model, but if it doesn't look
good, I won't play it long. To paraphrase Enzo Ferrari referring to his
racing cars, 'First it has to
look nice, then we make it fast.' I like that attitude. A couple of oily rags in a tin pan on top of my monitor with a small fan
blowing from behind and I was totally immersed. If you're looking for another
racing game or wanting to try your first, F1 2001 is one you should consider. If
you're into F1 racing and trying to decide which title to add to your computer,
this is the one. It has beauty, but it's more than skin deep.
time, EA Sports, it is in the game.
(As a little bonus,
the force feedback settings I made for the TM Ferrari wheel can be downloaded
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