(Another guest review by the one and only gegs, let us know what you think.)
Once again another F1 season rolled by and another year of complete dominance from Ferrari and a certain German driver have meant that it hasn't been too exciting, thank god however, F1 games offer much more than there real life counter parts. There are no fixed team orders in F1 2002 but the action is certainly exciting, screaming round the track like a maniac certainly fulfils many F1 fan's dreams. With a full racing roster and every track beautifully recreated in all their glory this game offers much in game play and is very easy on the eyes. There have been some brilliant F1 games and there have been some awful one's, I am glad to say that the game that owns the official licence doesn't fall into the latter category.
The main thing that makes or breaks a game like this is the game play and that is where I will start. This is easily one of the most enjoyable motor racing games I have ever played, it took me a while to get hooked but once I did I couldn't leave it alone. The car feels smooth and responds very well to your controls, I am not too fond of using the analogue controls in driving games but I soon found that after playing F1 2002 for a while I actually found controlling it with the pad felt unnatural. It takes time to get used to F1 2002 and I found that initially my car was shooting over every corner like a rocket; I could have sworn the others drivers were laughing at me as they overlapped me for the third time. But with patience driving the cars becomes easier, those who have short fuses are best to avoid F1 2002 because it is not a game you pick up straight away. I found that starting on the 'Rookie' difficulty level gave me enough room to hone my driving skills without being frustrated at how badly I was being beaten. Once you become used to the controls and the car however this game really come into a league of it's own and becomes one of the best F1 games on the market.
One of the most impressive things about F1 2002 is the shear amount of options available in the game. There are many different game modes to choose from, the main bulk of the game is the 'Simulation' mode where you play a full F1 season in all it's glory, but other options available are 'Quick Race', 'Arcade', 'Time Attack' and even 'Spectator'. In 'Quick Race' you just simply choose a track and race, a nice touch in this option is the fact that you can choose the position on the grid where you start, 'Time Attack' is a simple beat the clock where you have unlimited laps to gain the quickest lap time. The 'Arcade' mode is basically a stripped down version of 'Simulation' where you can do a season or a single race but every time you start at the back of the grid, because of this the 'Arcade' mode is certainly a lot easier than the 'Simulation' mode. The 'Arcade' mode does offer you the colour commentary skills of Murray Walker that sadly is missing in the 'Simulation' mode and in the real life sport.
The real racing begins in the full-blown season 'Simulation' mode and it is here that the game really begins to shine. You begin by choosing your team and driver from the full list of F1 talent then battle it out through seventeen gruelling rounds of the F1 season for the Driver's and Constructor's world championships. The depth of the 'Simulation' mode is truly unbelievable; every aspect of a full F1 season is here. You are provided with a preview of the track you are racing at that is just a short commentary on the track's history and interesting events that have occurred there in F1 history. Following this option you have a full race weekend provided, there are the two practice sessions on the Friday and Saturday, then the Qualifying and the Warm Up before finally competing in the Race. The beauty of this game is the fact that you do not have to go through all of these stages, if you just want to race you can skip straight into the action but you will by default start at the back of the grid. However if you wish to start with a stronger grid position Qualifying can pass very quickly with the option to skip time. But for those fan's who want to develop their car and have a finely tuned beast ready for race day the practice sessions provide invaluable time to mess about with the set-up and experiment to find that extra bit of speed.
The nice thing about F1 2002 is that it can appeal to casual motor sport fans and die hard F1 fans. If you just want to forget about the technical side of the sport and just thrash a fast car around a circuit you can do this with the driving aids and team decisions that are made for you. However if you want to delve deeper into the game you are given the option to change practically everything about your car. You can test and change something as simple as the tyre type and compound down to the transmission and gear ratios. This really gives the game so much scope and provides the player with a much more immersed feeling, if you can take the time and effort that is.
The actual race in 'Simulation' mode is very like the actual program in reality, even down to the F1 symbol appearing at the very beginning and the familiar commentary as the camera scans over the grid as the pit crew make last minute adjustments to the car and scantily clad women stand near by holding a placard with your number and grid position on. When it comes down to racing the player is provided with a driver's point of view of the action. Instead of commentary the main sounds that you here and the engine noise and the sound of gravel as you plough through it. I was very impressed when flicking between the three car views available that when you view things from the cockpit the sound becomes more muffled to imitate wearing a helmet. Throughout the race you have constant reports coming from the pit crew informing you of other drivers positions and lap times as well as your own, this is a nice touch that adds reality to the game.
The graphics in F1 2002 are absolutely stunning; there is so much detail in the cars, the driver and especially the tracks that it is just something else to behold. I often found myself crashing because my attention was drawn to the helicopter camera following the action in the sky, the yachts and amazing scenery of Monaco and even the brick yard after the finish line at the Indy circuit has been added. Each track has been faithfully recreated as closely to the original as possible and the results have been well worth it and make such a good game. When I first saw that there was a 'Spectator' mode available in F1 2002 I was a bit confused about why this had been added but after watching a race from this mode I could understand why, it is like watching F1 on the telly, many more camera angle are used in 'Spectator' mode than in the other options of play. Sitting back and watching a race wasn't the most exciting experience but I would recommend doing it once to anyone who plays this game just to see the graphics that are on show.
I have been fully impressed with this game and would recommend it to anyone, it is by far the most enjoyable F1 game I have come across on the Playstation 2 and will take a lot of beating. I have very few bad point to mention, the difficulty of the game can be frustrating because there seems to be such a leap between 'Rookie' and 'Normal' you can find yourself being to good for one but not quite good enough to step up to the other. However this doesn't take anything away from the game and is only a small complaint about an otherwise very impressive game.