PC games: F1 Challenge '99-'02

Driving titles can, broadly speaking, be divided into two categories. You’ve got the instant-thrill games -- so easy that you don’t even have to take your foot (or finger) off the accelerator. Second, the painfully complicated titles aim to be as authentic as possible but generally make you chew through your lower lip in frustration.

F1 Challenge ’99-’02 definitely falls into the second category. Though the cars are fast enough to make your eyeballs explode, they hate going around corners. Nor do the tyres grip particularly well when you accelerate -- you need 100 per cent concentration. These machines are real beasts and they have to be treated very, very gently. And even then you can still very easily find yourself hurtling towards brick walls at stupefying speeds.

F1 Challenge ’99-’02 is different to previous Formula One titles. You choose between four racing seasons so there is a wider variety of teams and drivers. In order to win races, though, you will need plenty of practice.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lifetime to spare and failed miserably with F1 Challenge. Perhaps I’m just a bad driver, but I think the learning curve is too steep. Even with a steering wheel and pedals -- a must for every serious driving game freak -- it’s very difficult.

The game looks fantastic, though, and the attention to detail is second to none. There are loads of options for setting up the car and the data provided by the telemetry systems is superb. I have no idea what most of it means, mind you, but it makes for some very pretty graphs and charts.

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
www.easport.com

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Ben Camm-Jones

PC World
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