Once upon a time, Sony's Phil Harrison demonstrated that games offer better value for money than movies by dividing the length it took to play various games by the amount of money it cost to buy them. So he must be hugely pleased with Formula One Championship Edition because the latest title from the Sony Liverpool production line of officially licensed F1 games goes on forever. Fire up the game's career mode and it'll likely be a good half hour of practising, warming up and setting up the car before you get to the starting grid of your first Grand Prix.
Playing through an entire season of races will probably take a minimum of about nine or ten hours and completing the five-year career mode will therefore take about 45 to 50 hours. And that's just taking part in the bare minimum qualifying laps and races. For players who want to enter into the spirit of the thing and really get involved in the arcane intricacies of the car setup system, they could easily double that amount of time. That's a lot of value for money, and it is, of course, a testament to the rigour and authenticity with which Studio Liverpool has recreated the whole Formula One thing (which is, of course, to be expected from any self-respecting Formula One game these days).
Here's what happens during every race weekend. First there's the Race Car Evolution, which is a series of optional test laps used as the basis for your car's race day setup. The system allows you to configure six different areas of your car and then test them on the track. If you find the idea of racing round an empty track about ten times a bit boring, or if you find it impossible to tell what difference any of the settings make, you can safely skip this section and head straight to the practice laps. If you find the idea of racing round an empty track several times a bit boring, you can also skip that bit. Then it's the qualifying sessions. If you find the idea of racing round an empty track for up to fifteen minutes three times boring, then tough, because that's what you have to do in order to get a good position on the starting grid. That's Formula One.