Written by  :  Roedie (5255)
Written on  :  Jul 03, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Classic Formula 1 game from the days of Senna & Prost

The Good

Some of the things I've said in my review for the game The Cycles, also by Distinctive Software, do apply to this game as well so you might want to check it out.

Once this one was part of a very small group of racing games I had and it was my only F1 racing game, so I spent countless hours burning rubber while playing it. The best thing about it was that for the first time you could get a "real" F1 experience. There are eight real tracks (including Monza, Monaco, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve etc.) and three cars from real F1 teams (Williams, McLaren and Ferrari). The three cars all handle a little bit different; the McLaren is the fastest one, the Ferrari was the best on circuits with a lot of corners and the Williams lies somewhere in between.

The interface & main menu are very well organized. The moment you take a look at it, you understand how it works.

I browsed the database for other racing games that were released in 1988 and I must say the graphics of Grand Prix Circuit are (were) top-notch. Especially the pit stop animation was very neat back then.

The Bad

  • If you've ever played the original Test Drive you probably noticed how its controls felt very awkward & jerky. Well, Grand Prix Circuit suffers from the same problems. The steering & handling of the cars is just not subtle enough. You can steer strictly to the left and strictly to the right but too little in between (long live the analog controller!).
  • The A.I. cars never have to make a pit stop. Because they never get off the track (and onto the grass), their tires never wear out. Since fuel is not a factor in this game it does make some sense, but it would have been more fun if they had to enter the pits every now and then.
  • Too easy. Some of the A.I. cars are not competitive at all, you can lap them after just five or six laps, even on the harder difficulty levels.
  • The engine sounds are produced by the PC Speaker.

The Bottom Line

It's not a bad racing game, but of course it is rather outdated. In my opinion racing games usually don't stand the test of time very well. A good story always remains a good story, so adventure & rpg games usually remain playable but limited disk space & memory prevented decent physics modelling so modern racing games are usually much more interesting. But the time I've spent playing this one proves it has its qualities (it's still a lot better than Pole Position).