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F1 Pole Position 64

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Reviewed by Raymond Almeda With the excellent selection of great racing games in the N64 library, it's hard to get terribly excited about F1 Pole Position 64. But unlike much of the racing competition, this title strives for a realistic simulation of formula racing. While devout fans of formula racing may enjoy this title, gamers simply looking a good time are advised to look elsewhere. This game provides most of the bells and whistles that one expects from a formula racing title. Gamers may assume the role of any number of famed international drivers (although the driver one selects has no discernable influence on gameplay). The formula cars themselves are highly customizable. Before the race, players can adjust things like tires, fuel, brakes, and so forth. Those who enjoy scrutinizing the details of such machines will appreciate this feature; others (like me) will simply breeze past this stage as quickly as possible and go straight to the action. Alas, the action in F1 Pole Position 64 leaves something to be desired. Of course, the game uses the N64 analog joystick, and is your basic exercise in acceleration, steering, and braking. But the gameplay simply does not feel as intense or fluid as a number of competing N64 racing games. In fact, I found that races became tiresome rather quickly, seeming to drag on too long. I prefer Miyamoto-style racing games that provide a quick, intense (and addicitive) burst of action. At times this game feels more like an endurance test. While that's fine for those who enjoy authentic Formula racing, the rest of us will probably prefer karts. =) The graphics of this game are good, but not superlative. The cars are nicely detailed. The developers added some interesting animation when exiting the pit stops. Quite often, a cloud of sparks will fly from the rear of the car in a rather unrealistic fashion. Weather effects, such as rain and clouds, are nicely implemented. On a negative note, there is substantial graphic pop-in throughout the game. While the pop-in does not adversely affect game play, it is nevertheless annoying to see a large building or audience grandstand suddenly materialize in front of your eyes. The music of this game is unfortunately offensive. The sound effects are average, and certainly not particularly memorable. One cool audio touch that I initially enjoyed is the voice of your pit crew chief. When leaving the pits, the chief will give you bit of advice concerning the weather, or other such pertinent fact. At times, the crew chief will make comments about the driving performance. He's not exactly Confucious, but the pit chief provides a fun (if limited) feature. However, there simply are not enough voice clips in the game to sustin long-term interest. It's worth mentioning that I have also played the Japanese import version of this game, which is called Human Grand Prix. A better name for that game might be "Inhuman Grand Prix." It is plagued by massive pop-in and gameplay problems, many of which (believe it or not) were corrected in F1 Pole Position 64. Kudos to UbiSoft for putting in some commendable extra work on this title. That extra effort may not have made it a classic, but it certainly saved the game from the garbage heap. F1 Pole Position 64 is not a bad game, but it seems to lack any standout gameplay quality. Considering the variety of racing games available for the N64, this title certainly should not be high on anyone's list. Fans of formula racing will probably want this title, but those are simply looking for a fun racing game would be well revised to check out such killer games as Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing, San Francisco Rush, Top Gear Rally, Wave Race 64, Automobili Lamborghini, and so on. Remember this, RENT BEFORE YOU BUY!

Overall 6.75 out of 10

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