Review by niniendowarrior

Reviewed: 03/07/04

Nothing gets closer...

For many people, Formula 1 represents the pinnacle of motorsport. The best of the best. 11 teams, 22 drivers of different nationalities come together to compete for the two most coveted titles in motorsport history, Formula 1 Driver's and Constructor's Championship. The motorsport not only represented the nail-biting competition and heart-pounding racing action it is known for back in the nineties, it also represented the gigantic leaps in technology that modern cars today inherit. The existence of Formula One cannot simply be ignored.

Everyone knows that in the PC universe, only one name rules in the F1 genre. However, in the console universe, the battle is still there with different companies of the likes of EA, Ubisoft, Psygnosis, and Video Systems churning out different F1 games of various seasons. EA has the F1 200x series, Ubisoft has F1 Racing Championship, Psygnosis has their own equivalent title, and Video Systems has F1 World Grandprix series.

It is strange though, that despite the technical advancement and the availability of more powerful hardware, none of the modern console F1 games feel as great as Video Systems collaboration with Paradigm Entertainment for the very first F1 World Grand Prix game. Those who owned the Nintendo 64 had a great racing sim in their hands and the achievement of Paradigm and Video Systems is truly unmatchable.

It is unfortunate, however, that the sequel to perhaps, arguably, the best console F1 game today would only see light in Europe. F1 World Grand Prix II is the sequel to the much acclaimed product of Paradigm Entertainment under the shelter of Video Systems. Unlike the first game, which features the 1997 season, the sequel features the 1998 season and along with it all the quirks the 98 season has: from the removed Jerez track, to the updated drivers, cars and teams, to the small details such as treaded tyres.

Ignoring these components, are there any differences from the first game to the second? Unfortunately, close to none.

For those who are only starting on the much beloved motorsport, the sequel starts off where the 97 season ended. Jacque Villeneuve, sporting the driver number 1, is the defending world champion, with teammate Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Williams F1 is the constructor's champion. However, things aren't the same as Williams lost a lot in between 97 and 98 seasons (hence, the different liveries from 97-98). Williams would, at 98, run under the name Winfield Williams F1. Ferrari is lead by Michael Schumacher and then teammate, Eddie Irvine. While always a force to be reckoned with, the year would not wholly focus on them. McLaren, with a Mercedes engine deal has gone all out for a full-scale war to regain the lost glory from the early nineties, after a promising 97 season. This war, lead by Ron Dennis, is front-lined by Mika Hakkinen, 1998 world champion, and David Coulthard.

Graphics (8/10)

F1 World Grand Prix II utilizes the 8 mb expansion pak which is supposed to assist the developers ramp up the graphics and other components of the game. It is a bit disappointing to see that the sequel utilizes pretty much the same graphical finish that the first game had. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, knowing that the first game really looked authentic. F1 WGP 2 does feature some extra graphical quirks such as more tyre smoke when tyres lock up. The car models are also updated as you'll see the Ferraris have a different look. Williams and Tyrrell also sport different liveries. Aside from that, there's little difference when you compare the two games up-front. Even the menus are somewhat the same!

Looking over the car models, the cars simply look real. Despite the fact that the game is very dated, the cars look much more authentic than most renditions today. They look right, and move right. Truly this game has aged gracefully.

Sound (7/10)

Much sounds the same when these two games are pitted against each other. The engine sounds are very similar. What was a little disappointing here is that the up-beat tunes of the first game were replaced by weird Euro-tunes. While not bad, it's definitely a step down from the tunes of the first game. The engine screams are crisp, as the much more enhanced tyre screetches. The pit radio did have a slight change and is clear, generally. Overall though, it is sad that Paradigm didn't exert enough to make this game fresher.

Controls (8/10)

The controls fare pretty much the same for both games. R and Z are used to shift gears, the analog stick is used to steer the car, A is the accelerator and B is the brake. The C-buttons allow for camera changes and backmirror views. It's pretty much the same setup and how these work are pretty much unchanged from the first game to the second. The game, like the first one, features two analog control types: controller, and wheel. Controller would allow the analog stick to function as expected on other racing games. Tilting the stick all the way will make the car turn the most. The wheel, I assumed is used on actual steering wheel controllers, actually works well on the controller. This type of steering simulates an actual steering wheel control sensitivity. Slight tilts on the control sticks would make the car turn 'enough' for the corners. Much is definitely un-changed.

Game Content (9.5/10)

Do not get me wrong, F1 WGP 2 pretty much sports the same features as the first game. The game has 4 modes of play: the championship season mode, the exhibition race, time trials, and the challenge mode.

The championship season mode pretty much is the same for both games, including the inaccuracies. In qualifying mode, there is no sense of time when the real qualifying session is one hour. All drivers can come out as they please and set the time to qualify within that one hour time limit. F1 WGP 2 as with the first one, doesn't emulate this well. It seems like a time trial mode, except this time it's for positions. There's even not much traffic to deal with. However, the game does feature a great addition that was not as good in the first game. Replays are now full-race instead of the last lap from the first game. Don't get your hopes too high, though. I really doubt if F1 WGP2 will be able to replay a full-race distance race. But it's highly unlikely someone would race 59 laps of the Australian GP. However, this enhanced replay really does help add some spice to the game. I suspect this is due to the 8 mb expansion pak enhancement of the sequel.

The Exhibition mode is the standard race mode where you can pick the driver to use, pick the conditions, pick the race positions and pick the track to race on. Much is the same from the first game.

Time Trial is where you get to practice setups and practice laps around any track of your choice and any race condition.

The challenge mode, which is unique to N64's F1 WGP game, is back here. In challenge mode, the game recreates a particular portion of the season. You take the role of the driver concerned and must perform the task the driver was able to accomplish in real-life. This mode, missed by many F1 games, is actually a very good mode as it educates the players on the actual events of the season. Finishing the challenge would merit points, 5 points for successfully fulfilling all the tasks in the challenge mode. Accumulating points would be required to unlock the final challenge as in the first game.

The physics are very similar to the first game, and it isn't bad. It is strange how you feel the game is a real authentic representation of the motorsport comparing to most F1 games, despite the fact that it's already 3 years old. None of the current crop of F1 games match to the authenticity of gameplay this game provides. High speed crashes would flip your car around and damages would hamper your car's traits. Tyre wear is also done greatly. Pitstops, are pretty much the same from the first one where quick fingers are necessary to pull out good stops. When the car enters the pits, you have only a few seconds to flip the menus and deal with the amount of fuel, tyre changes, and wing adjustments, if you are to come in and out without losing too much time. I expected Paradigm to do something about this for the sequel, and as it turns out, they didn't. In real life, drivers need not concern about these things as they go into the pits as these things are taken care of by both drivers and the pit garage crews before hand. One more point on the pitstops are that pit crews don't make mistakes, which is simply nitpicking on my part. Little details such as head-bopping would add a more authentic feel for the game.

AI (8/10)

The AI is actually pretty good in this game. They race and take advantage of mistakes you make. They also can be plain stupid as they bump you on some occasions. Sometimes, they are simply too slow. One thing the sequel has that the first one didn't was AI-errors. You can pressure the AI into making mistakes. Unfortunately, these 'errors' happen too many times and becomes unrealistic. Everyone knows, for example, that Michael Schumacher isn't the type to make many mistakes in one race yet in the game, yet the AI makes too many mistakes. Another thing about the AI is that when you watch replays, they seem to be running on rails. The game slides the cars to the position desired by the game.

Replayability (8.5/10)

The game simply is great. Much can be done for racing buffs although the game isn't for everyone. F1 fans really can start playing around with the challenges and try to win the championship with different drivers. If you aren't a fan, this game can make you one! Seriously though, if you aren't very in to open-wheel racing, this game will not help you in terms of replayability.

Overall, NOT AN AVERAGE (9/10)

F1 World Grand Prix II is simply one of the best F1 games out there. The only fault on F1 World Grand Prix II is that the first game was already so good that any good traits of the second would clearly be referenced to the first game. It is, though, a better enhancement to the first game and really does carry the F1 name to the hilt. Unlike modern F1 games with flashy graphics and high polygon count, this game keeps things simple and authentic. It looks authentic, it moves authentic, and most importantly, it plays authentic. If you aren't a fan of simulators, then this game won't appeal to you. If you have the first game, then this 'enhancement' isn't probably worth the buy. But, if you are an F1 fan then, the sequel is definitely a must have. No console F1 game can get a closer view to the 98 season than this game. Simply put, in F1 console games, nothing gets closer than F1 World Grand Prix II!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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