MicroProse Formula One Grand Prix is an old Grand Prix racing simulation based on the tracks used in 1991.
The game supports both quick races and full races. Full races include two practice periods, a qualifying period and the race itself, while quick races only include the race component. You can adjust the length of practice and qualifying periods (5 mins to 2 hours) and the race length (5% to 100% of the real-life length), so you can potentially spend hours on each race.
You don't necessarily need to sit there for the full time, however. You can abort practice sessions whenever you want, and if you don't want to go through the full qualifying or race time (e.g., you've used all your qualifying tyres or you've crashed out of the race), then you can put the simulation into accelerated time mode and just let the computer work out the results. Races can also be saved part way through.
You can customise a lot of stuff in this game. You can change your car setup (wing downforce, brake balance, gear ratios etc) by pressing brake while you are in the pits during practice. You can also control weather conditions during quick races. Finally, you can change all the team and driver names if you want. This means you can race against real Grand Prix drivers (the game starts with fake names).
The game supplies six driving helpers to cater for various skill levels. These include suggesting the best gear to be in, suggesting the best driving line, automatic transmission, automatic spinout recovery, automatic braking and complete invincibility. You can toggle each of these on and off during a race using F1 to F6.
Driving control is supported through both keyboard and joystick. Joystick is a far easier control method in my experience, but it is possible to drive and win with the keyboard controls. Unfortunately the keys aren't very customisable, but the defaults are easy enough to get used to. You need to use A and Z to accelerate/brake, < and > to steer, Space and Alt to change gears and Enter to go into the pits on your next lap.
The game also supports two-person multiplayer games through either dialup modems or a null-modem cable. In this mode you can choose to either just race the two human players against each other or to include the whole field.
The game's VGA graphics are fairly basic when you look at them now, although I remember being really impressed at the time -- the game needed a 386DX or 486 to run well. Remember that there was no such thing as a 3D accelerator card back in 1992. The sound is pretty repetitive, but that's what you would expect when you drive a car around in circles. You can hear the engine revving and the tyres squealing, though.
This game is a classic. It's starting to look a little dated now, but the gameplay is still there, whether you want a 5 minute spin around the now-disused Adelaide street circuit *sniff* or a couple of hours proving to Michael Schumacher exactly who's boss.
People who downloaded Formula One Grand Prix have also downloaded:
Grand Prix 2, Grand Prix 4, Grand Prix Legends, Grand Prix 3, IndyCar Racing, Formula One Grand Prix (Microprose), Indianapolis 500, IndyCar Racing II
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