Formula 1 (video game)
European cover art
Formula 1 is the first racing game in Sony's Formula One series. Unlike later games in the series, this game's cover has no specific driver on it (except for the North American version which features an image of Michael Schumacher driving for the Benetton team during the latter portion of the 1991 Formula One season).
Published by Psygnosis, Formula 1 is based on the 1995 Formula One season, although it was released in 1996. It is distinct from its sequels because it was made after the end of the season, meaning that it features driver substitutes. The game also allows two-players to compete against each other either head-to-head or with other computer cars via the 'Link-Cable'. Both players may then compete over a 17-race Championship season, or in a single race of the players choice.
Formula 1 follows the 1995 Formula One season, with 17 tracks, 13 teams and 26 drivers. If a player is to complete a season after winning every race, and leading the Constructor's Championship, a special hidden circuit is unlocked. The track is a lower-level city circuit, which when viewed at the Race Preview page is in the shape of a Formula One car. As there is no way of saving game data, the track is lost when the console is turned off.
Later tracks have 24 competitors on them instead of 26 because Simtek pulled out of the actual championship after the Monaco Grand Prix. It is still possible to drive a Simtek on any course after Monaco, creating a field of 25 drivers. If two players are playing the game via the link cable setup (where players would connect two PlayStation consoles together with two copies of the game), it is possible to play as both Simtek cars, thus creating a field of 26 drivers on any course after Monaco.
The track models in Formula 1 were modelled from surveyors' track data. The designers started with wire-frame models of the track data, then exported these from their Silicon Graphics workstations to a custom Windows 95 track editor. The track editor was used to reformat the tracks so that they could be used in-game, before exporting them back to the SGI workstations where scenery and other details were added in. To create the in-car sound, a Digital Audio Tape was strapped to a driver.
Though Psygnosis was the game's publisher, development team Bizarre Creations opted to create their own 3D engine for the game rather than utilizing the one from the Psygnosis hits Wipeout and Destruction Derby. To reduce demand on the PlayStation's processor without significantly reducing the game's visuals, the developers programmed the game so that when a car reaches a certain distance away, it switches from its normal high detail model (composed of 440 to 450 polygons, depending on the car) to a low detail model composed of only 90 to 100 polygons.
The game's original release date was pushed back to allow the developers time to make last minute tweaks, fix bugs, and make the complex graphical changes needed to remove cigarette and alcohol advertising, which is illegal in video games in some parts of the United States.
This game saw the introduction of in game commentary, which was done in the English version of the game by Murray Walker, the German version by Jochen Mass, the French version by Philippe Alliot, the Spanish version by Carlos Riera and the Italian version by Luigi Chiappini.
The game was a best-seller in the UK. The game was reasonably well received, with the PlayStation version earning a 7.6 on GameSpot while the PC version received a 6.0. IGN gave the PlayStation version an 8.0. PSM gave the game 9/10, praising the AI, before concluding "Psygnosis' finest game to date, it relegates every other racing game to the back of the grid. This is the game that will sell the PlayStation to Grand Prix fans and unconverted gamers alike. An envelope-pushing killer-application. F1 is one of the essential purchases of 1996".
Review aggregation website GameRankings provides an average rating for the PlayStation version of 87.75% based on 4 reviews. While the PC version receives an average rating of 56.40% based on 10 reviews.
- "Formula One". Next Generation. No. 17. Imagine Media. May 1996. pp. 50–52.
- "The Ultimate Formula". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (5): 140–3. April 1996.
- "The Waiting Is Almost Over". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (7): 102–5. June 1996.
- "In the Studio". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 17.
- "Nothing Can Stop Him Now". Next Generation. No. 17. Imagine Media. May 1996. p. 51.
- Gallup UK PlayStation sales chart, December 1996, published in Official UK PlayStation Magazine issue 13
- "Formula 1". GameSpot. the original on 8 October 2003. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
- Soete, Tim (August 22, 1997). "Formula 1 PC Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on February 2, 2006. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
- "FORMULA 1". IGN. Ziff Davis. November 25, 1996. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
- F1 review, Official UK PlayStation Magazine, Future Publishing, October 1996, issue 11, page 62