F1 2009 Review
Wii | PSP
F1 2009 box art
System: Wii, PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: Sumo Digital 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Codemasters 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 17, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

As realism becomes more of a requirement in games (rather than just a feature), we've seen a transformation of sorts within the automotive genre. While there has always been a place for simulation games in the past, it seemed that the automotive game world was typically dominated by games that had a speed-intensive arcade format. But this generation, everything changed. Franchises like Forza and Gran Turismo became the standard for realistic games, and arcade-centric franchises like Need for Speed have radically changed their formula to catch up.

F1 2009 screenshot

However, even though this automotive renaissance has been going on, the Wii console has been strangely absent from the party. Though kart-style racers abound on the system, there has never really been a serious effort made to create a simulation-style racer on the Wii, until now. F1 2009 has all the groundwork laid for an excellent sim-style racer. However, the execution just isn't there, and, unfortunately, the game quickly falls flat as a result.

The core mechanics in F1 2009 are fairly solid. Each Formula 1 racer has its own specs in terms of acceleration, braking, and top speed, and you can customize different aspects of the car including transmission speed, acceleration, and tire behavior. Some of the customization modes are quite deep, and if you are into tweaking your car, you'll find plenty to love about this game.

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The game has three different difficulty settings: Beginner, Advanced, and Expert. While the Beginner mode basically boils down to a no-frills exercise in precise steering, the Advanced and Expert difficulty settings really ramp up the game's challenge. In addition to contending with the advanced steering, players will have to deal with punishing AI and stringent track penalties.

F1 2009 screenshot

If we take the game on its simulation chops alone, F1 2009 is a great game. However, there are several other elements that bog down what would otherwise be an enjoyable game. One of the earliest offenders is the control. The game offers three different control options: Wii-mote alone, Wii-mote and Nunchuk, and Classic Controller. The Wii-mote alone has to be tilted left and right (like a wheel), and the Wii-Mote and Nunchuk use the thumbstick for steering and the Wii-Mote for acceleration. Both of these control styles are incredibly imprecise, and staying on the track, even with the Beginner setting enabled, is near impossible.

The only control setting that works satisfactorily is the classic controller. Even this setting becomes a little too imprecise if you try the advanced or expert difficulty levels. I really wish the control was better, because the simulation and customization elements really give this game great potential. However, the imprecise control makes this an exercise in frustration more than anything else.

F1 2009 screenshot

Yet another facet of the game that is disappointing is the visuals. While no one expects Gran Turismo-level graphics from the Wii, the visuals in this game aren't on par with other automotive games from this generation, and they look ripped directly from an N64. There are massive technical issues with the framerate, and there is constant flickering both on and off the track. While the cars do sport a fair amount of detail, the environment and animation just look so bad that the good elements are quickly overshadowed.

Screenshots / Images
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