'And it's Nigel Mansell in the lead going into the final lap, he simply must win
now...whoops his gearbox has seized up again!'
Well that's Grand Prix racing for you, a combination of driving skill, mechanical
expertise and sheer luck. In F1 GP Circuits you can drive for any of four
'fictional' teams, each with its own strength: the Ferreri car is fitted with
the best engine, McLoren with the best chassis, Williams with the best tyres and
Leyhouse with the best brakes.
The Grand Prix season starts in America. As in the real thing, you have to set a
qualifying time to determine you position on the grid at the start of the race.
The race view is from overhead with the track scrolling downwards. Of course there
are plenty of twists and turns in the road, but these are 'signposted' in the
panel above the playing screen.
There are nineteen opposing computer-controlled cars, and these are swines
to pass as they swerve all around the track. Collision with these causes the car
icon in the lower left corner of the status screen to change colour.
This is your damage indicator and as the colours on each part of the car
change from white to yellow to red and finally black it's time to visit the pits.
These are positioned just behind the starting grid, and by pulling off the main
track the pit screen appears.
On the left side is your car surrounded by the mechanics and to the right of
the screen appears a list of car parts, Tyre, Chassis, Brake, Engine and the
all important Fuel.
By clicking on the necessary icons the pit team get to work with their spanner,
scredrivers and sledgehammers. When finished, click on Go and it's back to the
track to complete the five laps that make up each race.
At the end of the race, World Championship points and bonus cash are awarded
to the top six drivers. In the first three races (USA, Brazil and San Marino)
you must qualify in the top ten places to avoid the dreaded 'game over' message.
But from then on the more points you possess the more chance you have to
survive. As your cash builds up it's good idea to visit thr shop to improve
your car's performace with four grades of tyres, chassis, engine and brakes for
F1's decent title tune and neat presentation leads you to think that this
may be a racing game in the Pole Position/Pit Stop league, but sadly it isn't
that good. The car sprites are attractive, but can't compensate for the simplicity of
a purely vertically-scrolling overhead view perspective.
The bends aren't that difficult to negotiate - obviously - and the continual
flipping of the disk version is a tad annoying (I hate to think what tape will
be like). And although the game is initially fairly playable, there isn't really
enough of a challenge to to keep you playing long enough to reach the final race
in Italy. Once you work out a technique how to get past the psycho drivers
tedium soon sets in.