Electronic Arts has always been praised for its great sports lineup. Starting in the Genesis days (when EA was exclusive to that platform) games like Madden and Bill Walsh football ruled the day. Sales were so good for these games in fact, that many believe EA’s support of the Genesis is one of the main reasons that system succeeded like it did.
Now though, here in the year 2002, a lot has changed. EA is no longer exclusive to Sega, as Sega no longer are in the hardware business. Further more, EA no longer limits itself to just football games, as the EA brand name now supports a wide variety of athletic events. In light of this EA has begun to make games based on the F1 license. While previous installments have varied in quality, EA has hit gold with this new installment.
F1 2002 gameplay is divided into three parts, Quick Race, Single Player, and Multiplayer. The first part, Quick Race, plays exactly as it sounds. Whenever you feel like a quick hit of F1 racing just click on this mode, and in minimal time you’ll be up and racing. Not original by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets the job done.
The real meat to F1 though is the Single Player portion. When you click on this part, you’ll be given the choice of one of five modes, Challenge, Single Grand Prix, Full Championship, Custom Championship, and Team Duel. The first one, Challenge, has you doing various (surprise!) challenges named after 11 Formula One teams. Each one of the challenges is well designed and challenging. The Challenge mode also allows you to pick between Basic challenges and Advanced challenges, giving gamers of all skill levels something to sink their teeth into. When you do complete the challenges though, there is ample reward in the form of EA Sports Cards, so you won’t ever feel that your efforts have been for nothing.
Another side mode in single player is Team Duel. Team Duel has you racing against your team member, instead of working with them. While this seems like a pretty original concept at first, in time you’ll notice that it’s nothing more then a shiny one-on-one mode. Nevertheless, the mode serves its purpose as a nice diversion from the central modes, and is entertaining.
Challenges and Team Duels are a nice diversion, but if you really want to get an F1 experience you’ll have to look at the Single Grand Prix mode. The mode has you doing basically what real F1 drivers do, meaning before the actual race you’ll have to put up with practice sessions, qualifying runs, and the like. While having to do all these preliminary races may seem like it would it would hamper the gaming experience, over time you’ll begin to realize that it actually enhances it. By making you do the preliminary runs you’ll soon be even more immersed into F1’s gameplay than if you didn’t have to do the preliminary runs. The mode also gives you a choice of doing a Grand Prix weekend, full season, or several full seasons. Working with all these components, Grand Prix manages to be quite the enjoyable experience,
Grand Prix isn’t the only mode that realistically depicts an F1 racer’s life, as Full Championship and Custom Championship also carry those characteristics. Functioning quite like Grand Prix, both modes have you choosing a rider and taking it through a full season. The mode works well, but you can’t shake the feeling that you’re basically playing Grand Prix all over again.
The third part to F1 is the multiplayer modes. Four in all, multiplayer lets you choose between Split Screen, Tag Team, Time Challenge, and 2-Player Full Season. Split Screen does exactly what it sounds like, giving you and a partner a split screen to race against each other on. The mode works well, and is quite fun with a worthy opponent.