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Formula One 2003 Review - PS2

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Studio Liverpool's Formula One 2002 was a mixed bag, offering fun and immediate game play blended with some bland graphics. It also appeared way too late in the year(the 2002 season was almost complete). This year, Formula One 2003 has made it out mid season, complete with the 2003 drivers and tracks and Australia's Mark Webber making the cover. It's another iteration not an evolution, but stands as the most enjoyable Formula One game available on a console.


The standard fare for driving games exists here, with both Arcade and Simulation modes on offer. Within those two styles, you have Single Race, Championship, Custom Race, Race Weekend and Time attack. You can tailor each mode to suit your own style - options such as race length, damage, fuel consumption, tire wear and opponent difficulty.

Race Weekend and Championship are where you will notice the most differences. For the 2003 season, the FIA introduced one lap qualifying, with cars having one lap on Friday to determine their order for qualifying on the Saturday. Adding to this is the new ruling that cars may not be touched after Saturday qualifying, so their times will be based on how much fuel the will be carrying at the start of a race.

This adds a new dimension to qualifying, as a simple driver error can result in a lost time and a start from the back of the grid. The difference between qualifying on a full tank instead of one that is mostly empty will not be realised until you see your lap times diminish as you ready for your first stop.

Another new feature is the addition of launch control. Whilst launch control has a limited life in Formula One thanks the rule changes mentioned above, you now have the ability to use launch control to help your starts. Once the red lights start and your gear flashes "N" for neutral, you can press and hold L1 to initiate launch control. Whilst holding L1, you fill up your rev meter. Once the red lights go out and the race starts, you release L1 to launch your car. It's a nice inclusion that adds a bit of skill to starts, but once you get the timing right it becomes too easy to get a great start. However if you screw it up, and jump the start you'll be forced to take a drive through penalty.

Driver AI is suitably tough depending on your choice of difficulty (rookie, semi-pro and pro). They will hold their lines, and challenge you into corners without worrying about their car's safety. They are however usually susceptible to being late braking into a corner. Generally though, overtaking is a chore as the smaller teams cars are usually less powerful than the larger teams.

That's not usually a problem, as slipstreaming allows you to gain a few more miles per hour down long straights. Not in Formula One 2003 as it defies the laws of ... (continued next page)