Developer: Melbourne House
Release Date: 04-Mar-2003
It’s the final stretch two cars are clearly in the lead, they are going head to head its hard to predict will attain victory. One of them will be the grand champion while the other marked as the first big loser. That fraction of a second changes everything in your life. That’s F1 for you; Atari’s Grand Prix Challenge is a great game that recreates the races feel.
There are a total of 22 cars competing against each other to claim the #1 spot. There are a total of 6 different options: Quick Race, Grand Prix, Championship, Grand Prix Challenge, Time Trailer and Multiplayer.
Within each one of these modes you will have the ability to race on these circuits: Barcelona, A1-Ring, Monaco, Montreal, Nurburgring, Silverstone, Magny-Cours, Hockenheim, Hungaroring, SPA-Francorchamps, Monza, Indianapolis, SUZUKA, Melbourne, Sepang, Interlagos, Imola. A total of 19 different tracks, only a few are playable the first time you pop in the game. The other tracks are locked and you are required to unlock these tracks, but unlocking them is quite an easy task. Just play the game and win your races and the tracks will start unlocking themselves, but before you can attack these races you must choose your team and driver. The teams available are: Mclaren Mercedes, BMW Williams, Sauber Petronas, Bar Honda, Jordan Honda, Renault ELF, Jaguar racing, Orange arrows, KL Minardi, Toyota racing, Ferrari. As far as I can see, these are the only choose-able teams. After you pick your team you can choose your driver. Within each team there are two drivers. I believe they are using well known drivers, but since I’m not a F1 fan I’m not 100% certain. After you’ve decided on the driver and team your ready to hit the races.
The control of the game is almost identical to other racing games. Using the analog stick to control the steering, X for acceleration, Square to brake, Triangle to do a TCS adjust, L1 to look back, R1 to change view, and last but not least L2 to gear down and R2 to gear up when in expert manual mode. After you are acquainted with the controls you can start the practice runs. Practice runs are quite an important feature that most car racing games should have, this allows the player to understand the layout of the course as well as how to react to the turns. Understanding the course is a vital point in claiming victory. Without figuring out the straightest line or close to the straightest line you’ll definitely be overrun by the computer opponents. This is what I believe to be the most important pre-race option. But there are many other pre-race options that can be quite helpful in attaining victory.
Before the race, you can also tune up the car to your liking. The possible options to modify would be : Tire Type, Down Force, GearBox Ration, Suspension, Brake Balance and Traction Control.
You should modify these options depending on the track conditions. You can also modify these options during the race; this is quite helpful especially for weather changes. Weather is quite an important factor in racing, choosing the correct type of tires for the race will give you the upper hand. There are 4 different types of tires, Hard, Soft, Wet, and Intermediate. Each setting changes the feel of the car, you can find out more about the options which are located in the manual when you purchase this game. The last option I will go through is the pre-game setup, this lets you choose your pre-game setup such as when to pit as well as what tires you want to change to during that pit. After these options are set you are ready to race.
Now for the actually racing screen, there are approximately 4 options that are shown when racing. First would be the current lap your on, Pole position meaning the person with the fastest time as well as your best lap, your current time, tire damage, and the current speed. You should always keep watch on your tire and car damage. It is quite important since it affects the cars performance. Tires start off at blue, and the rest of the cars start off at green and slowly degrades changing in color. When these colors turn to red you probably require a pit. Cars at this point are almost impossible to control.
Once in the pit the crew will fix the entire car. The pit interface is quite impressive, rather then a set pit time you control the pit time. The faster you set your desired options as well as how hard you want to work the pit crew the quicker you can get back into the race. Like a true F1 race everything depends on the pits and the driver, the quicker your pit crew the more chances of placing first with your true skills. Proving to the other drivers your team is truly the best. After your done pitting you jump right back into the race.
There are 5 different view perspectives for this game: First person view, First person view of front 2 wheels and steering wheel, Third person view of head steering wheel and 2 front wheels, Behind the car view, and more aerial behind the car view. This allows the player to choose what their best perspective to race in is. I personally choose the First person view of front two wheels and steering wheel. Since it’s a lot easier for me to manage and race. The graphics are also quite nice especially in one player mode; it’s simple yet detailed enough for this type of game. It’s no GT3 but runs smoothly compared to other F1 games. With the ability to race against 21 other opponents it runs quite nice. But everything goes to shambles when you play the multiplayer mode, the video goes haywire. Even though it’s only a head to head the graphics get rather choppy. And the fact that you can’t race against more opponents is a disappointment. But this game is quite nice in single player mode; but this thing has one fatal flaw. The game lacks in the music/sound department. One major thing that would make this game awesome would be a good announcer. Like in real F1 the announcers hype up the action making it so much more enjoyable. Another thing the game lacks is good music, in GT3 there are several different types of songs to keep you occupied. It might not be completely suited for this game but would be nice. Or at the very least have the pit crew constantly informing you of current situations and what not. If you have ever gone to the NASCAR arcades it’s a great experience, if ATARI has implemented some of these items into the game it would be such a killer buy.
This game also supports the steering wheel, but without calibration you can’t choose the sensitivity you desire. Even with its small draw backs, the game is actually quite enjoyable. It’s probably the first F1 type game that I have truly enjoyed, I have played EA’s NASCAR type game and boy did it have problems, laggy all over the place and choppy as hell. This game was quite enjoyable to play and with the retail price of $29.99 it’s definitely worth picking up. I’ll see you at the races.
Score : 8.7 / 10