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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2003, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Petrolhead perfection
By Jonathon Moore

Copyright EASports
Format: PS2/PC
Price: 39.99
Publisher: EASports
Genre: Racing
Sadly, there is no madcap protester running along the Silverstone track, but in all other respects, F1 Career Challenge is as close as it comes to the high-octane world of Formula One.

From the very first time you enter career mode, you begin to fully appreciate the thrills (or more likely, spills) of just what it takes to become the next Michael Schumacher.

True, the cut scene graphics leave a little to be desired, but the game feels and plays like a Formula One game should.

Namely, it takes time and more than a little patience to succeed against the world's best drivers.

The game follows the 1999-2002 seasons as your start your career in one of the sport's more 'skilfully challenged' teams.

For each race you are ordered to achieve or better certain results, which in turn affect both your reputation and ability to improve your car.

It's simple stuff, but it works.

Succeed and you could find yourself fighting it out for the Ferrari team at the front of the grid.

Copyright EASports
Graphics: 78%
Playability: 85%
Sound: 82%
Realism: 90%
Overall: 86%
Fail, and believe me you will for some time to come, and you'll be dumped by Benetton after your first season in the seat.

The in-race graphics are superb, with every detail of the 16 F1 races reflected perfectly.

The four camera angles provide you with a variety of options from which to view your latest crash and the interactive pit stops force you to take an active role when your chief mechanic calls you in.

Those who are unfamiliar with F1 rules and regulations may struggle at first.

Break the speed limit in the pits, overtake when the yellow flags are out or cut a corner in qualifying and you'll find yourself facing the wrath of your team when you get back to the garage.

All that and you'll have to improve on my qualifying times by about 10 seconds a lap to ensure you're not starting every race from the back.

But this is to be applauded. The difficulty level, although frustrating at first, certainly adds longevity to the game.

And for those regulars who know what 'downforce' and 'oversteer' mean, there is every opportunity to customise your car and driver to your exacting specifications.

It all adds up to a superb package, even if, like me, you're not a regular petrolhead.

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