Game Review - by James Allen
Outside these United States of America, the biggest racing league is Formula 1, supercharged race cars which race around road courses; no wimpy ovals for them! The F1 racing simulation has been around for quite a while; I played Microprose's World Circuit quite extensively, as it was the only game which had good frame rates on the old 386. Currently, we have several entries into the field, including Grand Prix 3 and the EA Sports version. Will Warm Up! take the pole, or explode in a blazing testament to pointlessness?
There are two distinctly different game modes present in Warm Up! First, the familiar simulation mode contains the "normal" F1 racing we have come to love, complete with quick races, grand prixs, and a complete F1 season. All of the current F1 tracks are present, including the revamped Indianapolis Motor Speedway, driven all backwards and stuff. The F1 drivers, however, are not here, but they are just names anyway, right? You can go in and rename the drivers if you want. Each individual event consists of a practice session, qualifying, warm-up, and the actual race.
The amount of customization in the game is very high. You can create your own driver and customize the teams, including changing the chassis and paintjob. Also, you can set the difficulty (beginner, intermediate, and professional) and the level of simulation (simplified or advanced, more on that later). The number of cars participating, amount of car wearing, weather conditions, and damage can also be set to your personal preferences. In addition to changing the difficulty and simulation levels, several driving aids are available, including the driving line, braking assist, steering assist, transmission, and repositioning after you run into the competition (and you WILL run into the competition). If you need some practice (and even for fun), you can try to get your best lap and race against your best lap, represented by a ghost car.
The most interesting aspect (and most original) is the arcade mode. It basically consists of racing a small number of laps around the tracks of F1 and trying to pass as many cars as possible. The kicker is that you can floor it all the way around. This is very disorienting at first, because we are generally used to braking. It takes some skill, choosing the points at which to pass, and with the world passing by at a constant 180 miles per hour (on a road course), there isn't much time to think. To help you out, your car is equipped with turbo devices, which speeds up your car even faster for eight-second intervals. This is definitely a strange take on F1 racing, and I doubt that you will ever find a combination such as this ever again.
The sound is pretty standard for a F1 game. The audio in the game includes the roar of the engines, and that's about it. Other accessory sounds are also present, such as screeching tires and the like. Nothing too impressive is found here, but the sound isn't detrimental enough to damage the gameplay any.
In simulation mode, there are two flavors of action: simplified and advanced. Simplified mode gives your car extra braking power and better grip around the corners, and is enormous fun and great for beginners. I usually play simplified simulation mode, because I'm not the hardcore F1 racing junkie. For that kind of people, the advanced simulation mode accurately represents the physics of F1 racing cars, and delivers a truly precise driving encounter. The AI ain't too shabby either, and they will engage your car and bump for position, especially on higher player difficulty levels.
To get complete control over the car, a magnificent car setup utility in included. You can change the aspects of fuel amount, braking balance, tyres, suspension, ride height, wheel camber, anti-roll bar, steering angle, wings and wing angles, and the gearbox. An interesting addition is the plots, which, for your specific setup, shows acceleration, cornering (speed versus turn radius), and ride height versus speed. This completes the gameplay experience, and ties everything up into a neat little package.
The track venues are all rendered in exacting detail, something which I initially though would take a backseat in this game. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the graphics, which, while they don't near the bar set by some of the other games (such as EA's F1 series), they come very, very close. I could recognize portions of the tracks right off the bat. The sense of speed is also very well represented in the graphics. Smoke effects are well done, without being overdone (like in other games), and your car kicks up grass and sand when you accidentally venture off course. The rain effects are very nice (you can check them out in the screenshots), and the mist really makes it difficult to see the car (or cars) in front of you, just like in real life! I had a glichty problem with (I'm guessing) the lens flare, which momentarily shot large, multicolored polygons across the screen. Weird. Still, the graphics are top notch, only slightly surpassed by other games in the genre.
Warm Up! delivers a complete F1 experience, something which I am pleasantly surprised in. The simulation modes cover the bases for both the amateur and the professional, and the arcade mode is something that is refreshing and original, and gives enough push for the game to interest most driving aficionados. The graphics and number of options seal up the package. Warm Up! proves to be a great alternative to the standard F1 fare, and is an experience which should not be missed.