While Electronic Arts' first F1 racing game isn't the definitive F1 simulation we had hoped for, it certainly is a solid F1 racing title that will certainly please both the casual and die-hard fan of the sport.
The game is chock-full of modes and options, ranging from a full season run in which you hope to capture the championship, to a single race for fun, as well as a time trial, and two-player modes. Just about every mode other than the quick start lets you customize all of the rules and settings to your preference. In addition, F1 2000 lets you pick from all of the real drivers, cars, and tracks featured in the actual real-life F1 2000 racing-season schedule. While all these added bells and whistles are certainly nice to have, F1 2000's performance on the track is really what the game is all about.
Controlling the vehicles in F1 2000 on the default settings is a lot more stable than the majority of F1 titles for the PlayStation, which is great for beginners. The default settings have an added safety feature called auto braking. This feature lets unskilled drivers attack the tracks aggressively by automatically keeping the speed of the vehicle at an appropriate level so that you never whiz by a 90-degree turn and slam into a wall. While this feature isn't new to F1 racing games, this option, combined with the stable physics of F1 2000, makes playing the game a more pleasurable experience for the novice player. For veterans of the sport, F1 2000 makes it possible to turn off the auto braking, change a staggering number of vehicle settings that change how the vehicle corners, accelerates, decelerates, and just about everything else you could want. The vehicle settings in F1 2000 really do alter how the car handles, and for die-hard fans of the sport this is a big plus.
One odd point worth mentioning about the control is that there is an apparent difference in the control responsiveness between the D-pad and analog stick. When you are playing F1 2000 with the D-pad, the vehicles just don't seem to have the turning ability that they do when you're playing with the analog stick. So if you enjoy playing racing games, using the analog stick isn't a problem. However, for the D-pad elite, the difference can be a bit frustrating.The AI of the computer-controlled opponents ranges - some cars never seem to notice as you pass them, while others never want to let you pass. This variety in the AI keeps the game refreshing, since you never know when one of them might risk a black flag to keep you in their rearview mirror.
Visually, F1 2000's graphics are decent. The car models used are fairly realistic, and they have all of the appropriate decals and sponsor logos plastered on them. The tracks have been re-created to real-life specs to the point that if you have seen these tracks you'll recognize them. But the best thing about the game's visuals is the steady frame rate. Since a lot of F1 games suffer from slowdown when too many cars appear on the screen at once, it's a nice change to see a game that keeps the speed of the game at a smooth and constant rate. Some simple visual effects such as camera-blurring caused by heat from the track dress the look of the game up a bit, but overall the game looks fair at best. There are five different camera angles, which let you see the action from various points - within the car, behind the car, and even from the nose of the car.
In the audio department, F1 2000 does a decent job of re-creating the sounds of the F1 racing experience. The engines roar, the announcer gets all excited when someone makes a move at the end of the race, and the pit crew sounds exasperated when you fall too far behind. All of the sound effects are realistic, and the audio tips from your crew really pull you into the game. There could have been a few more lines for Jim Rosenthal to say, since he hardy says anything - you almost forget about him until the end of the race.
Overall, EA Sports' F1 2000 is a solid title. While it isn't the definitive F1 racing game we were hoping for, it certainly plays well, looks decent, and offers more than enough options and racing modes to keep fans of the virtual F1 racing circuit happy for quite some time. In comparison with other F1 titles for the PlayStation, such as Video Systems' F1 World Grand Prix, F1 2000 is a much more enjoyable racing game.