I have to be honest that reviewing a Formula One game is difficult, very difficult for me. It's not that I can't play the game - it's just that I'm one of the few people on the planet who finds the races kind of dull. I've never really gotten into it at all and it has always amazed me how those guys can drive round the same track constantly.
However, once playing the game and actually immersing myself into it, I realised how good the drivers must be to actually hit those kind of speeds, drive in such an aggressive manner and yet still manage to finish race because I was all over the place.
Now, I've played my fair share of driving games but none of them come close to the realism of F1 '04 ... trust me on this one.
This officially licenced game has all the bells and whistles that you have come to expect from the EA games stadium - official teams, drivers, and circuits of this year's 2004 season, including the brand new tracks Bahrain and Shangai.
All ten teams are available from Ferrari, Renault, and BAR-Williams. The drivers are there including the ever-popular Michael Schumacher and Jansen Button, as well as the ability for you to create your own driver should you feel the need to - which of course you will, because the satisfaction of beating those drivers (even in a computer game) is superb.
You can take the game on using career mode and attempt to move yourself up the ranks one-by-one - this has to be the finest point of the game. Challenging yourself at every corner, developing your driving skills, and pushing your driving skills to the limit is one of the high-points of the game. If you are an F1 fan, then this game will never disappoint you. It's fast, very fast. It's also incredibly realistic. You kick off driving for one of the smaller teams, and as you progress in the championship you will be able to get picked up by the larger teams until you are powering through Monaco in a spanking new Ferrari, the wind in your hair, and the sound of girls in the crowd driving you to the best performance of your life ... maybe.
On the flip side, too many crashes or too many bad lap times and you'll see yourself getting dropped quicker than a stone in the ocean. It really helps make the game, as you are constantly bettering yourself and your abilities, such as learning to brake at the right moments and when to attempt those over-takes, the likes of which you only see on the television.
The game also lets you set the fastest time in a time trail or race against ghost cars to achieve the best time with the all new online mode.
The simple fact of this game is that if you love F1, then you will love the game. It's so precise and true to the world of Formula One that nothing will dampen your spirits. For others, it's an enjoyable game that you will struggle to get to grips with... and for a few others it will go into the list as a game too hard for its own good, concluding that only those who fly F-18 Interceptors will be able to play it.
It's beyond fast and furious, but a damn good game if you like racing.