Published on July 12th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell0
F-1 G.U.S. #9: F1 Pole Position 2: PASSING IS NOW POSSIBLE!
Year: 1993 // System:SNES // Publisher: Ubisoft // Developer: Human Entertainment // Genre: Racing // Atmosphere: Formula One
>>> In spite of the fact that it sold well enough on the Super Nintendo to earn a sequel (this review is proof of that), F1 Pole Position struck me as one of the lesser racers to represent the Formula One Series on console in 1992. Although it was flavored with realism and did well in offering complex vehicle setups and a solid Championship mode, the game stressed the difficulty of passing to the point that it backfired. The AI drivers were cheap in the sense that, if they ran into you or you ran into the back of them, then YOU were the one who ALWAYS spun around while they floored on uninterrupted. But the problem was, the tracks were so narrow that it was nearly impossible for you to get around them! Issues were certainly not helped by the fact that it took awhile to master the tracks in free run to the point that you could at last compete for the pole position in qualifying. Also, perspective was especially cramped.
So the sequel decided to address its most glaring issues by widening both the screen and the courses to allow for the player to view the turns up ahead and have plenty of room with which to propel himself past the competition. On the surface they didn’t seem like big changes but they did more for the overall engine than an even bigger plethora of setup options or a pseudo-driver creation mode that could be found in “Edit.” Now, it was totally possible to play this game while still feeling like you were simulating a lifelike F1 experience.
But did “possible” and “lifelike” translate to “truly entertaining?”
F1 Pole Position definitely improved upon its predecessor, with the team at Human Entertainment stepping up their game to compete with the likes of Genki and SETA and their titles. Difficulty settings were expanded upon to give the player a freer range at which to play the game. Did he or she want an easygoing field of opponents to allow him/her time to get used to driving the full championship circuit, or did he/she want to go door-to-door on the top settings with an aggressive band of victory-hungry drivers who wouldn’t be afraid to spin their sick grandmother for the trophy on the other side of the checkered flag? Choices were plentiful, and the ability to “create” a driver with a name, birth date, and face and then “edit” him/her into the place of another driver on the circuit was pretty nifty for a racer made in 1993. True, there wasn’t a WHOLE lot of character customization, but it was definitely a start.
But the racing itself still threw up a couple of red flags. For one, as many options as there were available to players, the races at the minimum setting were still too long. 10 laps on any of the 16 featured road courses were way too many, especially considering how games that came afterward, like Gran Turismo and the Ridge Racer series, set race length at 2 to 3 laps. That may be short, but the developers were conscious of the fact that you wanted to play through as many courses as possible, and that an accident late in the race may force you to reset, which is something you’d definitely hate to do after racing for 8 out of 10 laps (or, say, about 15 minutes on average) without a break or checkpoint.
Although tracks were widened, the competition still seemed a tad too unfair in how the slightest contact with them caused you to wreck or swerve sideways. Again, there was more room to pass other drivers, but chances were you’d still collide with another driver through the course of ten laps.
But otherwise this is a game to be praised for its realism. The car is hard to turn, but given the legendary difficulty of wheeling one of those machines around a winding course, that was to be expected. Hills now play a role in how fast your vehicle will travel down a straightaway (accelerate going downhill, lose speed while ascending). Responsiveness correlates directly with the changes you make to your vehicle, and rain still interrupts the action down and then to interrupt the smooth performance of your racecar.
SoF1 Pole Position2still faced a tough round of setbacks that may give its competitors in ’93 something of an advantage, but it was definitely a step in the right direction by Human Entertainment to make its game more accessible to casual players.
Challenge: 6/10: Well, it’s possible to pass cars now. THAT’S an accomplishment of its own! However, tracks are not wide enough to secure that you’ll never accidentally run across another AI, with whom the slightest contact will doom you to dive off into a grassy patch somewhere. Also minimum races are still too long.
Handling: 8/10: Steering was still rather difficult, but also very realistic, and the addition of correlating speed to positioning on a hill was especially appreciated as a strong simulation aspect.
Innovation: 7/10: This was you run-of-the-mill Formula One setup, but with a driver creation mode that featured an acceptable range of options from naming your new driver to giving him or her date of birth to placing him or her in the stead of a driver like Schumacher or Andretti. Also, this guy was available as a driver.
Core Experience: 7/10: Hooray! Visibility is no longer an issue! You can see the track just fine, and no stupid arrows pop up to tell you which way you need to go because you can see enough of the road up ahead to signify how sharply you’re going to have to veer right or left.
OVERALL: 7/Solid: F1 Pole Position 2 is much better than its original…not so much that every single issue has been eradicated or revised, but enough that the sequel can be considered a good game. Although I refused to sing the first game’s praises, this one deserves a shout-out for its improvements to the game play.