EA Sports is known for a constant pursuit of authenticity in their games and their Indy Car racing title F1 Championship Season 2000 is no exception. The game features real drivers in real cars, racing on real tracks. There is even an accurate racing schedule and commentary from real-life announcers in four different languages. The action in F1 Championship Season 2000 relies on a mix of "real" and "arcade" physics, with the intention of providing a realistic look and feel but assuring that the game is still fun to play. The game also features a split-screen mode that allows two players to race against one another at the same time.
Seven months after its release, EA Sports' F1 2000 remains one of the most detailed and visually spectacular Formula One racing games available for the PC. Interestingly enough, it was also the only F1 PC game to be released in 2000 to feature teams, drivers, and all 17 circuits from that same year. All told, F1 2000 had only a few minor problems, most of which were easily overlooked by die-hard Formula One fans. Regardless, EA Sports quickly went back to the drawing board to address some of the game's issues, and the end result is F1 Championship Season 2000. It's a stand-alone follow-up to F1 2000 that enhances a number of the original game's features, adds a handful of new ones, and, ultimately, it will undoubtedly please racing enthusiasts and interested beginners alike.
Even though F1 2000 prides itself on being the first Formula One game to feature the tracks and teams of the 2000 FIA season, the game was released in March of this year, when the race season hadn't even reached the halfway mark. Therefore, there were some variables - like the starting grids for each race - that were impossible for the developers to account for. Perhaps the most glaring of these problems was Monza's first chicane, which was revised by track officials and FIA representatives hours before the actual race. This discrepancy is fixed in F1 Championship Season 2000, and a number of other tracks, such as Indianapolis and Spa-Francorchamps, received minor facelifts and tweaking so that they would accurately reflect their real-world counterparts from the 2000 season. Other season-sensitive changes even include the helmet styles for all 22 drivers, as well as running commentary from ITV's Jim Rosenthal. Your pit chief now gives you constant feedback on your car's performance and warns you of trackside situations, such as accidents and spinouts. You can even choose the amount of dialogue that you wish to be subjected to, and you aren't just given the choice between turning speech completely on and completely off. The computer-controlled drivers' behaviors have also been revised to mimic their respective performance during the season, and the drivers will no longer rear-end you as you go into the first turn. At times, it seemed as if F1 2000 played more like bumper cars than a Formula One game, so the more realistic and conservative driver behavior in F1 Championship Season 2000 is certainly a step in the right direction.
In addition to enhancing many aspects of F1 2000, F1 Championship Season 2000 introduces some new features. The most notable of these is the new driving school mode, which puts you in the driver's seat of the unique Arrows two-man F1 trainer. Designed to introduce novice drivers to the intricacies of F1 racing, this mode uses five visual aids and a variety of audio cues from an instructor to guide you through various driving dynamics such as braking, accelerating off the grid, cornering, and following the optimal racing line. Even seasoned veterans will find this mode useful since it has lessons for every turn and every notable straightaway for all 17 of the tracks in the 2000 season. Depending on your performance in each lesson, you're awarded a bronze, silver, or gold star - you might even be asked to retake the lesson altogether if you fail to impress the instructor.
The addition of varying weather conditions is another welcome change, and one which vocal racing fans were disappointed not to find in F1 2000. Before any race, you can choose between dry, overcast, wet, or random conditions. In rainy weather, each car's reflection is clearly visible off the rain-soaked asphalt, and you can see beautiful "rooster tails" trailing the cars as they blast down straightaways. There's even the ability to choose the same conditions of the actual practice, qualifying, and race sessions from each race weekend of the 2000 season. Unfortunately, the weather effects aren't dynamic, so it isn't possible to mimic the effects at Gilles Villeneuve (for example), where conditions are dry at the beginning of the race but are at a steady downpour by the end.
The audio in the game has also been enhanced. The sound effects are quite better than those in F1 2000 - the cars' engines will smoothly go from a deep and hollow rumble when they're idling to a high-pitched scream at 14,000rpm. Downshifts in the game make the same jarring crunch that's emitted by the real cars when they decelerate. Additionally, the bands Fear Factory and Headrillaz have provided new techno and industrial music for the opening movie and the menu interface. The graphics have also been improved, albeit only slightly. From the first-person perspective, the only notable difference is a thicker steering wheel, which now has a more defined carbon fiber look. Externally, each team's cars look completely unique, a feature that Formula One fans will really enjoy. Ferrari fans will immediately notice their car's distinct high-mounted nose, while McLaren enthusiasts will appreciate their car's muscular look and sharp lines. Even the wooden plank mounted underneath each car's belly is clearly visible (although the only time you'll get a good look at it is after a horrific accident).
The game is clearly an improvement upon an already great Formula One game. Since the 2000 F1 season ended a few months before its release, F1 Championship Season 2000 is currently the only game that accurately delivers a complete racing experience for the 2000 season, and it's one that no F1 fan should be without.
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