One racing is fast, exciting, extremely dangerous, and very alien in the
eyes of most Americans. Either you watch it and love it, or you just
dont understand it and loathe it. F1 racing most certainly does not
appeal to everyone, nor do F1 racing videogames appeal to everyone.
While Grand Prix 4 is a good racing game and a great representation of
Formula One racing, it definitely isnt going to be everyones cup of
Prix 4 features everything an officially licensed F1 sim needs. For the
record, all 11 teams and 22 drivers that participated in the 2001 F1
Season are included in the game as well as all 17 of the official
tracks. Of course, unless you know who Jacques Villeneuve or Michael
Schumacher are this wont really matter to you, but theyre in here.
Because the game follows the 2001 season, any changes in course design
for the 2002 season are not includedneither is the introduction of the
Toyota team. It is worth mentioning because GP4s main competition, EAs
F1 2002, features all of these changes.
meat of the gameplay in Grand Prix 4 is in the championship mode where
you compete for the Drivers Championship and Constructors Cup. The
game faithfully recreates the driving conditions and even starting grids
from the 2001 season. Other modes include Quick Race and a time trial
mode called Quick Laps.
is also a mode called Gpaedia. This is a huge reference guide filled
with information about everything and anything connected to F1 racing.
There is enough good information featured in the Gpaedia to make even F1
novices an expert on the sport. It is an interesting addition that
provides excellent background on the 2001 season. While it isnt
necessarily required reading, it is worth checking out.
game play in GP4 is everything you should expect from an F1 racer.
Tight, twisted tracks crowded with 22 cars fighting for position.
Knowing when and where to brake and accelerate is immensely important.
If you crash or do anything that has a drastic effect on your speed,
kiss your chances of winning goodbye. Even if you run a perfect race, it
is still a mighty difficult task to actually win a race. Pit strategy
and catastrophic mistakes, either by you or by the AI, are what
typically determine the outcome of races. It takes quite a bit of
dedication to get your car to victory lane, but knowing that you
actually earned the win is extremely satisfying.
can improve your chances of winning by changing the settings on your
car. Brake balance, gear ratios, suspension, wing angle, and many other
things can all be adjusted and even the slightest change will have an
immediate and very noticeable impact on the car. Advanced options are
clearly marked so you cant screw your car up too bad, and anything you
change can be reversed by a click of the mouse. If you dont want to
mess with the settings on your car, there are also several driving aids
like assisted braking, acceleration, and cornering. Of course, not
having to brake and take corners correctly on your own saps all of the
fun out of this type of game, so use these options only as a last
thing that has been lacking in racing games these days are realistic
crashes. Thankfully, this isnt an issue in Grand Prix 4. When you cut a
corner and end up in the grass, you spin out. When you bump another car,
there is a good chance that one or both of you are going to end up with
quite a bit of damage. This ranges from body damage to a wheel breaking
off to a complete breakdown where your car slowly rolls to a stop, never
to move again. If you hit a wall, your car breaks up into a million
pieces and your day is over. The computer is also far from perfect and
creates its own fair share of crashes.
controlling the cars is a frustrating endeavor at first. The default
keyboard setup is far from optimal, and setting up a controller pad is
an enormous pain. I had to search around the less than intuitive menu
system for quite a while before I figured out how to adjust the
controls. Once you convince the game that your control setup is superior
(it seems to fight you every step of the way), the game is easy to get
into. Keyboard and controller pad setup is difficult, but the control
layout for steering wheel peripherals is actually petty good. That fact
alone is a pretty good indication of who this game was intended for:
Hardcore race fans who already have steering wheels for their PCs.
GP4 is a nice looking game. The cars are highly detailed right down to
the spoked wheels, and they look fantastic. The backgrounds, aside from
occasional pop up, are very nice looking as well. The textures on the
race track itself are pretty bland and ugly, but when you turn the bump
mapping option on, the roadway looks much more realistic and adds a
great sense of speed. There are other graphical effects you can toggle
on and off including a heat wave effect. You can also choose how much
detail is included in the side mirrors of your car. This can range from
just the background flying past, to just the cars behind you, to the
full-monty of the entire environment appearing on your tiny side
mirrors. I love little details like this. It takes a pretty beefy system
to display all of these extra effects while maintaining a good frame
rate, though, so unless you have the latest and greatest, it is best to
play with most of these effects off. The graphics can be as nice as your
system can make them, but at a heavy cost to the frame rate.
sound in GP4 is also very well done. The music on the menu screens adds
a dramatic feel to the game that suits it very well. The engine sounds
are perfect. These cars have the high-pitched whine that F1 fans have
grown to love. The engine noises are also very loud in comparison to the
rest of the sounds, which adds to the realistic feel of the game. The
sound in Grand Prix 4 delivers on every level.
Grand Prix 4 is a fun game that is a very realistic representation of
Formula 1 racing. You can tweak and tune the cars as much as you feel
comfortable with, or you can take the easy path by using driving aids. I
would have to say that the game is a much more enjoyable experience when
you tune the car yourself, so if you want a fast and easy arcade racer,
look elsewhere. The whole point of simulation style games is that they
are much deeper experiences, and you have to be very dedicated in order
to enjoy them fully. Once you get the controls set up the way you want
them, the beautiful graphics, great sound effects, dramatic racing and
realistic overall presentation will keep you coming back to GP4 again
and again. If you know what you are getting into when you pick up Grand
Prix 4, you will probably enjoy it quite a bit. If you arent a fan of
Formula 1 racing to begin with, or the prospect of tuning, testing,
re-tuning, testing, tuning, testing, etc. doesnt sound very fun to you,
I would suggest skipping this title, but Formula 1 fans and fans of
simulation style racers will love Grand Prix 4.