Formula One 2001 Preview

Sony Liverpool's is bringing its amazingly popular Formula One series to the PS2 with Formula One 2001.

If there is one company that should know how to create Formula One racing games, it's Psygnosis, now known as Sony Liverpool. The studio created the first F1 game on the PlayStation and since then has managed to bring something new to every installment with the support of development studios Bizarre Creations and Studio 33. Its first F1 game was the first to ever sell 1 million units in Europe within six months. By now, the series has sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide, and it is easily one of the most successful racing games on the PlayStation. So it's understandable that F1 fans are eagerly awaiting the series premiere on the PS2.

Formula One 2001 is being developed for both the PS2 and the PlayStation, but naturally the PS2 will benefit from a few additional features that won't be included in the PlayStation version of the game. As an officially licensed game, Formula One 2001 features all the cosmetics a game of this genre needs, such as the official teams, drivers, and tracks of the Formula One World Championship. The quick-race and championship modes form the heart of the game. If you want to leave out all the tuning options and simulation details, you can dive directly into the arcade-oriented quick-race mode. The championship mode lets you either participate in a single race, a race weekend or a whole championship, and this is where you will be spending most of your time, in the battle for the first position of the overall championship. During a race, you'll have direct dual commentary from popular commentators as well as contact with the pit crew.

The visual details are already impressive. A pit crew, 17 men strong, scurries about onscreen to ensure that you proceed as quickly as possible back into the race. Track marshals, individual cockpits, and photo-realistic textures give you the most accurate F1experience to date. But the most amazing aspect of the game's graphic engine are the spectacular crashes. A new physics-and-dynamics model was created to re-create realistic crashes. Simply tapping or bumping into another racer will cause parts to fly off both cars, leaving parts strewn across the raceway. But if you slam into a wall, your car will literally be demolished, with pieces from every part of your car's chassis flying across the track. Simply put, F1 crashes have never looked this spectacular. You'll be watching replays over and over again, simply because you can't get enough of that horrible crash you just landed. Damage will also affect the handling of the cars.

The artificial intelligence of the drivers consists of over 30 parameters on the PS2, which influence the character and behavior of the computer-controlled cars. This means you'll recognize rivalry, aggression, experience, or determination amongst different drivers, each one reacting differently to your way of driving as well.

In one of the most innovative moves seen in a racing game, Formula One 2001 will have a save-anywhere feature, which lets you save the game to your memory card anytime within a race - even in the middle of an aggressive race. The time-attack mode lets up to 16 players battle it out against each other in the chase for the fastest lap. There will also be multiplayer modes, but no details have surfaced yet regarding those. Our hope is that Sony Liverpool will include the mode from last year's installment on the PSX, where you can race against the whole field of 20 other cars in two-player mode, which is something that is unique to the series. No competitor so far has embraced this particular mode.

Formula One 2001 looks like it will be a sure winner in the field of F1 racers, as it features every component a game of this genre should include. The game is currently only confirmed for a release in Europe, but an announcement regarding a US publisher can be expected soon. The game will ship for PSX and PS2 in March in Europe, published by SCEE. We'll report more in depth about the game as soon as a US publisher is confirmed.

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