Formula One Championship Edition PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: SCEE Studio Liverpool
Release Date: Out Now
It's not often that you have a Formula One title arrive in time for a console launch but those who were fortunate enough to pick up Sony's new console on its European launch had the privilege of having Formula One Championship Edition as a launch title. Given that Sony have exclusive rights to the Formula One licence it actually made a lot of sense to have such a game available as soon as possible. After all if you want to convince gamers that they should opt for a PlayStation 3 then what better way to do it than provide a game that can't currently be purchased on either a Nintendo or Microsoft console?
If you've played Formula One 06 on the PlayStation 2 then the only real differences between that game and this, is the difference in graphical quality and the addition of online play. Single-player modes include Quick Race, Time Trial, Grand Prix Weekend, World Championship and Career. As we've just mentioned, online racing is supported for 11 players with AI drivers making up the numbers. Formula One Championship Edition doesn't link up with the PSP version of Formula One 06 but whilst it would have been a nice touch if it had, it's not a major disappointment.
If you haven't played Formula One 06 then you might not have come across the new Race Car Evolution feature. Rather than allowing you to simply tinker with the various configuration options for your car, you'll carry out a series of tests, in order to determine the best setup for the circuit you're about to race. Your car is then configured accordingly for the race. It's a more intuitive way of setting up a car and personally I find it preferable to adjusting sliders and you don't need to be knowledgeable about the technical aspects in order to setup your car effectively.
Formula One Championship Edition has its good and bad points. The sensation of speed in this game is amazing and you really feel like you're travelling at breakneck speeds. Thanks to the amount of driving aids, Formula One Championship Edition can either be played as an arcade racer or simulation. It's possible to enjoy the game having never played a Formula One title. With all the driving aids on it's a breeze to win races. Start turning the driving aids off and you begin to get a more realistic experience. With all the driving aids off, it's a real beast to get to grips with and only the most dedicated Formula One fans will attempt to drive this way. However, those who are Formula One enthusiasts will be disappointed that the rosters are out of date. Schumacher is still here for instance, which is silly as he's retired. It's also disappointing to see the stop-go penalty still being implemented in such a silly fashion (again we have a temporary slowdown instead of having to return to the pits). The AI still doesn't appear to be up to the standards of PC titles such as Grand Prix 4, although in fairness it does a good job.
The big attraction with Formula One Championship Edition is the quality of the graphics. Compared to the PlayStation 2 version of Formula One 06, the visual quality has increased significantly. The car models look great and circuits look good too. Damage modelling also looks good although it's still not at a level where you could call it realistic. What does look realistic however, are the rain effects which look stunning. The droplets of water that hit your visor and then stream away look completely believable and the mist that sprays from an opponent's car when you're just behind them, makes visibility realistically poor. The frame rate is superb and never drops, even when there are many cars onscreen.
Formula One Championship Edition is pretty much the same as Formula One 06 in regards to its deaf gamer friendliness. The race commentary is not subtitled. Radio communications from your pit crew are not subtitled either. All information in the Career mode, such as e-mails and other messages, are shown in text so there's no real problems there. During races your HUD displays a multitude of icons that will keep you informed about the state of your car and such like. A colour-coded pointer indicates if you are going too quickly when approaching a turn. Of course the Sixaxis controller doesn't have force feedback and it's certainly a little strange, and to some it might be problematic, playing a Formula One game without the tactile feedback you usually have in these games.
If you haven't played Formula One 06 and are a fan of Formula One then Formula One Championship Edition can pretty much be regarded as a must own title. If you have played Formula One 06 and are looking for more than just a prettier version that offers online races, then you're probably going to wish that Formula One Championship Edition offered a lot more. At the very least an up to date roster would have been welcome. Still, all things considered, the game is an enjoyable racing simulation that shows off the graphical capabilities of the PlayStation 3 quite nicely and you'll also be pleased to learn that it supports the various Logitech USB steering wheels that were available for the PlayStation 2.
Formula One Championship Edition is certainly going to be appreciated by Formula One fans. However, if you've played Formula One 06 you'll find this a little too similar. It's also a shame that the rosters are not up to date.