Game Review - by SkaDaddy
The Multi-million selling Formula One series from Psygnosis makes a highly anticipated return to PlayStation for the 4th year in a row. As is the standard for the franchise, FORMULA ONE 99 is an officially licensed product of the current Formula One World Championship licensed by the Formula One Administration, Ltd. Developed by motorsport gaming specialists Studio 33 for Psygnosis and published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, FORMULA ONE 99 features all 16 Grand Prix circuits and all the teams and drivers (including Jacques Villeneuve and British American Racing) of the 1999 season.
I can't say enough about Formula One 99. It is an unbelievable racing game with almost too many features to put into words. Other than being officially licensed (which is saying a lot), it completely and accurately recreates the 1999 season. It has all 16 tracks from the 1999 season including the new Malaysian track. It has all the teams, drivers (including rookies and stand-ins), and car manufacturers. For even more bragging rights it has Jacques Villeneuve who has never been on any F1 game available on any platform. Also, all the menus can be displayed in English, Spanish, or French. This is all brought to you by a completely new racing engine, which was developed for PlayStation for F1 racing.
Single player mode is split up into quick race and grand prix. Quick race is just that: quick. There are no penalties, damage, etc. in this arcade style mode. You drive one quick qualifying lap and then three laps against twenty-one others. This is great for five minutes worth of fun. The real fun begins, though, when you choose Grand Prix mode.
In Grand Prix mode you can choose single race, championship or test drive. In the first two you can select from a variety of race options. All of these options also have varying degrees of implication. These variable race options include crash/spins, damage, race length, fuel usage, weather, artificial intelligence skill level, tire wear, flags/rules, failures, grid assist, and pit assist. In single race, it is, of course, a single race from the 1999 season. Championship mode is the full season. These two modes also have all the penalties and rules of the 1999 season.
Test drive is where you learn the tracks and your car (which is also completely customizable). You drive around the track of your choice with the aid of virtual cones. These cones allow you to see the best path on each turn. In addition, there are red cones that let you know when to brake. You can pull into the pit and change everything, including: tires, spoilers, computer assisted steering, and even gear ratios. In the real race it costs you time, but you can make many changes to your cars performance.
Two player mode is limited to simply a two player quick race. This is similar to the single player quick race, just with the addition of multiple cars in a side by side view. The only thing that Formula One 98 had above this version is the two player mode.
I played this game for a while on the standard controller. Then I played the rest of the time on the Dual Shock analog controller. The standard controller doesn't do this masterpiece justice. The gameplay is so realistic that you think you are in the 99 season. As your right side wheels go off the asphalt and onto the grass the right side of the controller vibrates. In addition, your left wheels still have traction that forces your car to veer to the right. This is very realistic car physics. Also, you have major problems trying to steer in the grass, gravel, or sand; you can only go in a straight line, otherwise you will spin. Again, very realistic. There is also realistic weather, which properly adjusts the gameplay for the situation.
Unbelievable graphics. Really. You wouldn't believe how realistic the burnt rubber on the asphalt looks. Weather, sponsor boards, and grandstands add to the realistic racing feel. The TV coverage type display before, during, and after each race also adds a lot. Actual F1 racing TV standings complete with the actual sponsors of the 1999 season. Qualifying positions before, per lap standings during, and race results after. It's great.
They even went to great lengths to make the sound customizable. The commentary is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Finnish. You can choose from: sound effects; sound effects and music; sound effects and commentary; or sound effects and pit radio. The engine sound effects were recorded specifically for this game. They are the actual sounds of a 1999 F1 car. Not just an F1 car. but an F1 car with 1999 specifications. I doubt you can tell the difference from the 1999 car and the 1998 car, but somebody can. Psygnosis went to the extreme for this game. It is also adjustable from mono, to stereo, to my favorite- Dolby Surround. The music isn't cheesy like normal video game music either. It has great bass punch.
This is an unbelievable game. As I finish writing this I am still thinking about twenty-five things that I should have mentioned. I will never be able to do this game justice. If you want a F1 game or even a racing game in general, then this should be your first choice. I don't normally like F1 or Indy style racing. I prefer muscle cars and stock racing. In a recent review for The Dukes of Hazzard game, I called F1 games sterile. This game changed my view. If anything, rent this game and give it its due.