Review by Christophee

"An extremely enjoyable F1 management sim"

For many years I have been a major fan of F1 games and sports management games so it was a logical step to buy an F1 management game. The first one I bought was Grand Prix Manager 2, which despite being a great game seemed a little too complicated and in many ways not as authentic or enjoyable enough for my liking. So when I saw Grand Prix World on the shelf with its exciting-looking interface and vastly improved graphics I felt optimistic that this would be a very enjoyable F1 management sim - and that is exactly what it proved to be.

Graphics: It can be said that graphics are not a particularly important aspect of a sports management simulation – just take the Football Manager series as proof of this statement – but sometimes the graphics can make the game more exciting and give you a much better feel for what is going on, as long as they are not in expense of the gameplay. I feel that Grand Prix World pulls off this aspect of the game very well. The user interface is attractive and easy to navigate and there are images of the drivers, cars and sponsor logos which give the game a very authentic feel. During the races, the user is given access to a number of screens and allows you to view them in a four-way split-screen. Some of these screens are covered in the 'gameplay' section of this review, but the graphics-related ones include a 2D overview of the circuit with small colour-coded circles showing you where all of the cars are in relation to each other. There are others which feature realistic 3D versions of all the cars and very in-depth graphics of the track and surrounding area. The only problem is that the camera angles are set to particular parts of the track rather than following the cars around, which means that there are sometimes lengthy periods waiting for you driver to appear on the screen and you will often miss overtaking moves as they haven't come into view yet. Overall though, the graphics on this game are more than satisfactory.

Audio: The game doesn't really feature any sound other than during races, which doesn't bother me but others may feel that they need to have music playing while they go through the various game menus. The car sounds during the races are excellent; incredibly realistic and change in volume as the cars drive past the pit area. There is also a commentator announcing which drivers are in the top three positions, which positions your drivers are in, retirements, pit stops and changes in track and weather conditions. This announcer gives the player some very useful information, especially when the track is getting wet or drying out and you need to make changes to race strategy. The sounds that are heard during the game are realistic, useful and give it a very authentic F1 feel.

Gameplay: As I mentioned earlier, Grand Prix World has a very easy-to-use interface with all of the different aspects of the game separated into clear sections and game menus which makes the game very easy to get into and play. The game allows you to negotiate driver and staff contracts, develop and build new cars and aerodynamic parts, take part in testing which allows you to improve car setups and speed up the development process, negotiate with sponsors to secure funding to run your team and set team orders and car setups to ensure you get the results you want. The game runs through these various aspects very smoothly and easily by not over-complicating the process and allowing you to manage your team very simply and concisely. The game mainly uses boxes to show progress of developments, deals and car setups which some people, such as myself, would believe makes the game pleasantly simple to play, but others would criticise for not being detailed enough. For example, the user is not able to make exact setup changes to the car (such as raising or lowering the wings and suspension) but instead is given a number of setup 'points' in the form of boxes to apply to each car in certain areas (such as speed, acceleration and braking). In my opinion, the real fun part of the game is managing the strategy of your team during races by deciding which tyre compounds to use, how much fuel to put in the car and when to come into the pits to change to wet-weather tyres when rain starts to fall. Various race screens give you access to information such as lap times, weather and track conditions which allow you make all the necessary decisions to get the best from your cars. Overall, I believe that the game is very easy to pick up and play, even for casual F1 fans, which makes it very enjoyable and fun to play, but it may not be detailed enough for some of the more hardcore fans of the sport.

Lifespan: The game allows you to play and develop your team over ten F1 seasons. This means that you must continuously develop and upgrade your cars and ensure that you always have sponsorship and driver deals in place in order to last the course of the full ten years. This can be easier with some teams than others as they all have varying amounts of money and reputations. For example, I have never been able to last more than one season with Minardi as it is very difficult to secure sponsorships deals and keep the team afloat. If you start with the top teams to get used to the game and gradually move down the grid to give yourself a greater challenge, the game will last for a long time and provide the user with differing and enjoyable challenges. I believe that this game will keep you coming back for more but the lifespan could have been improved with a good multiplayer or online mode. However, the game is long enough and challenging enough to keep you playing and enjoying race after race until you reach the top of the Hall of Fame.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/28/07

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