The best Formula 1 game is still Grand Prix Legends

Formula 1 is back! The opening two rounds of the 2022 season have well and truly whet our appetites for the rest of the campaign. The same is true for the official F1 game as well, which is all set to launch this Summer.

The F1 games have been going from strength-to-strength in recent years, but they still haven’t matched the GOAT for the sport. To find the game with that honour, you need to go back to the 1990s and experience Grand Prix Legends.

GPL was revolutionary at the time and still holds up in many respects today. Why is this game so special? Here’s our take!

The most realistic racing sim

Grand Prix Legends centres around the 1967 Formula 1 season and is inspired by the 1966 film Grand Prix. GPL simulates every race that year, including the non-championship events.

THE THICK OF IT: You're dropped right into the action in GPL
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THE THICK OF IT: You're dropped right into the action in GPL

The level of detail GPL goes into isn't matched by most racing sims even today. For example, let’s say that Graham Hill didn't race in the Monaco Grand Prix in ’67, well, he won’t in GPL either.

The same goes for the cars and the upgrades as well, as GPL replicates how the teams developed and replaced their cars in '67. R&D was nowhere near as rapid in the 1960s as it is today, but this is something we didn’t seen in the modern F1 games again until 2016.

While the textures of the surroundings are lacking by today's standards, this game is over 20 years old, so it’s more than forgivable. If you were to compare GPL to F1 98 (a game that came out in the same year), GPL is leagues above.

GPL's handling model is still considered to be one of the most difficult and rewarding to master out of all the racing sims.

Likewise, its damage model is also one of the most realistic, as cars can retire for any number of reasons, not just collisions and engine failures.

It’s also noteworthy that body parts of the cars can be ripped off, something we still don’t see even in games like Gran Turismo 7.

Racing at its purest

Playing old video games is nostalgic but when they're also set in a classic era such as the 1960s, it's extra special.

A GREAT TIME: The 60s was one of the greatest eras in F1 history
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A GREAT TIME: The 60s was one of the greatest eras in F1 history

The debate of which era had the best drivers is a tough one to settle, but the 60s is definitely in with a chance. 1967 saw the likes of Graham Hill at the top of their game, with young up and comers like Sir Jackie Stewart, Pedro Rodriguez and Jochen Rindt finding their feet in the sport.

This is an era when a lot of the technology we see in racing today simply didn't exist or were in their infancy.

You want to talk to your pit crew? Too bad, radios aren't in these cars.

You want to know how many laps are left or what position you're in? Look at your pit board when you pass the pits.

Change the engine mode while you're in the car? No chance.

This might sound limiting, but what it does it make you focus on the driving and only the driving. It makes the competition between yourself and the AI more equal, as strategy doesn't factor into the end result as much as today.

While some cars were faster than others, it’s much more about the skill of the driver than it is in modern Formula 1.

GPL is a game that will really help hone your raw skills as a racing driver as the cars are beasts to drive. No downforce, no power steering, tyres are very difficult to heat up and primitive brakes make the 1967 F1 cars a mammoth challenge to master.

Once you do though, it’s such a satisfying feeling to tear around circuits like Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps in old layouts.

Massive modding community

Like a lot of titles such as iRacing, GPL's lifespan has been significantly elongated by its incredible online community. The internet was in its infancy in 1998, but now allows for extensive modding capabilities.

BACK IN TIME: You can go even further back into F1's history thanks to mods in GPL
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BACK IN TIME: You can go even further back into F1's history thanks to mods in GPL

Thanks to the fandom, more seasons, drivers, cars and circuits have been added into GPL.

Thanks to this, you could start your Formula 1 career all the way back in the 1950s racing against Moss and Fangio and retire in the 70s with the likes of Peterson and Fittipaldi on track.

Yes, F1 2021 has ten seasons available and driver transfers and retirements are included, which is good. However, you'll never see new drivers from below Formula 2 enter the talent pool, nor new teams, nor new cars.

While the graphics aren't as impressive as new games, they certainly aren't bad thanks to the HD textures that are available now. If you compare them to games like F1 98 as well, it's a world apart.

What F1 2022 needs to be the new GOAT

It’s certainly possible for this year’s F1 game to be the best ever, but it won’t be easy. For a start, it will have to bring back classic Formula 1 cars into the game. The same goes for classic circuits as well, as these haven’t been in the F1 game in almost a decade now.

GOING GREAT GUNS: The F1 game has done very well for itself in recent years
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GOING GREAT GUNS: The F1 game has done very well for itself in recent years

Furthermore, the Braking Point Career will need another compelling season added to ‘22. We’ll also need an expanded single player My Team Career mode, one where we can impact and dictate even more aspects of our team.

Aside from that, Codies need to ensure that the core of what makes the F1 games great remains intact, and it remains fun. Then, and only then, will GPL be toppled.

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