Monday, January 18, 2010

Pep's History of F1 Games

We all have our own history with F1 games - this is mine.

Early days

My first experience with F1 games began in the late 1970’s with the Tomy Electric Formula One game.  Handheld, mechanical and black and white except for a little red light when you crashed.  You used the steering wheel and throttle to negotiate two lanes of traffic from an overhead view.

The other option was going to your local arcade.  Gaming was taking-off and of course F1 and Grand Prix games were being developed.  The first one I remember playing was “Championship Sprint” – first in black and white and then in colour.

In the arcade, kids everywhere were madly spinning their steering wheels to get around those hairpin turns while trying to avoid oil slicks and other obstacles. 

"Pole Position" - A Classic

A big breakthrough came in 1982 with the release of an absolute classic game –“Pole Position”. Firstly available in arcades, then released by Atari 2600, this game broke new ground.

The reason “Pole Position” was a breakthrough was because of it’s pseudo-3D graphics and rear-view racing format.  It was full colour, featured qualifying and race, advertising signs, plus when you crashed your car exploded in flames.  Fantastic!

PC Gaming

In the 1990’s, I switched to PC gaming and my game of choice was Geoff Crammond's excellent and defining title "Grand Prix 3".  What a game!

The intro brings back so many memories:

This game featured advanced graphics but more importantly plenty of car customisation options.  This continued for many years with people building mods for this game.  GP3 also offered up weather effects, damage, AI and excellent sound. 

Console Gaming - PS1

The first console game I played was “Formula 1 1997” for the PlayStation 1.  Sony owned the franchise by now and the graphics and gameplay were a definitely a step-up.  Plus it had commentary from Murray Walker... 

I also enjoyed the other PS1 games of the day – “Formula One 98”, “Formula One 99” etc


When the PS2 console arrived my purchase was bundled with the “Formula One 2001” game.  The graphics and sound continued to improve.  But the setup and gameplay didn’t match the feel I was used to from Geoff Crammond.  Too arcade – too forgiving.  Still it was a lovely game and I really had a good time playing it.

With “Formula One 2001” I was beginning to move back to console gaming. PC games were starting to frustrate me a little because of the need to constantly update hardware, memory, drivers, video cards etc.  Some of 
you may love building and customising games on the PC – downloading new cars, skins, circuits and adapting the game to your specific needs – “rFactor” for example.  That doesn't interest me really.  Also "F1 Manager" games - no thanks.

Successive games from Studio Liverpool / SCEE were my games of choice – Formula One 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.  Each one was getting progressively better and while I found them to be a little too arcade for my liking.


When the PS3 was released one of the first titles available was “Formula One 2006 Championship Edition” – a game ported from the 06 PS2 game with better graphics. And those graphics in my opinion were just beautiful. And it wasn’t just the increased grunt from the PS3 either, TV’s were also getting much better. And it showed.

I got so much enjoyment out of playing this game. It’s was pretty, sounded great, the gameplay was good and it had lot’s of setup options. Okay I admit that like it’s predecessors it’s too soft and forgiving but despite this - it was FUN.


Codemasters obtained the F1 franchise and started with F1 2009 on limited release before F1 2010 launched. 

I am a huge fan of what Codemasters have done with their commitment and development of F1 gaming.  This first game was another step-up and we have seen good progression through the titles over the years which still continues today.


The next generation of gaming has just landed for me with the PS4 and F1 2016.

F1 2016 is quite simply the finest F1 game ever released and I've written a separate blog with a review.

Thanks for reading, please leave your comments.

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