Nostalgia in a freeze frame.
The 2006 Formula 1 season saw another huge shake up for the sport - as the well-loved V10 engines made way for V8s, several new teams and drivers entered the championship, and Fernando Alonso won his second consecutive World Championship - at the expense of Michael Schumacher, who retired (for the first time) at the end of season.
2006 was another year that defined my love for F1. It was a year of change in terms of its video game licence as well - as this was the year that marked the end of Sony Studio Liverpool's production of the F1 game franchise. But boy, did they leave us with a cracker of a next-generation console game...
BUT WAIT, DIDN'T F1 06 GET RELEASED AS WELL ON THE PS2?
Yes, but it was practically a carbon copy of F1 05 - which didn't live up to the same hype as its much better predecessor. The reason I chose F1 Championship Edition for this review is because it was released on the next-gen PlayStation 3 in March 2007, and was a huge step up in terms of graphics and game mechanics. Maybe I'll review F1 06 if I have the time.
OKAY, WHAT'S CHANGED?
Well for a start - the AI has vastly improved from F1 05. They're faster, smarter and a lot more aggressive. No longer could you divebomb into Turn 1 and overtake 10 cars at once, if you tried anything like that in this game, you'd probably crash out of the race. The damage model and penalty system has been improved, so no more ramming the car in front off the track, because it will end in a 10 second time penalty and a pit stop for a new nose cone. In addition, the weather can change from sunny as hell to monsoon in a short period of time within a race - adding to the excitement of the gaming experience. Also, if you're too poor to afford a racing wheel - this game is Sixaxis compatible.
And oh yeah - the Safety Car made a long awaited return to an F1 game. Result.
WHAT ABOUT CAREER MODE?
Like F1 05, aspiring world champions have to start by securing either a test or race driver role at one of three backmarker teams. This time, the choices are Toro Rosso, Midland and Super Aguri. If you score some points and don't completely bin it in every race, you'll attract attention from the bigger teams, and hopefully you'll win a World Championship or two within your five year career. A new feature for F1 Championship Edition is "Race Car Evolution", where you tune the car over the two Friday practice sessions to achieve the perfect race setup. Depending on how well you do, your agent and team will send you emails congratulating you on a 7th place finish, or basically saying "you're sh*t m8" if you crash out. Another new feature is the ability to choose a helmet based on your nationality, or just whichever helmet looks the nicest. Better than driving with a plain white helmet, for sure.
AND EVERYTHING ELSE?
As with its predecessor, there is the usual selections of quick race, race weekend and championship season - where the player can take their favourite real-life driver and drive them to victory. Online racing was another key component - with the PS3 servers much quicker and easier to play on (thank god). Apart from that, there's nothing really that new in F1 Championship Edition - which is understandable considering the short development time it actually had.
Although this 1996 Williams was a sweet unlockable...
With everything that I've covered, plus my own personal experience playing the game - here is my final verdict:
YOUR OPINIONS PLEASE
Do you agree with my review of F1 Championship Edition? Let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading - and I'll see ya later...