F1 2009 (video game)
F1 2009 cover art (PAL Nintendo Wii version)
F1 2009 is a video game based on the 2009 season of the Formula One motor racing series. The game was confirmed by Codemasters on 9 May 2008. It was released on the Wii and PlayStation Portable on 17 November 2009, in North America, 19 November in the PAL region and 20 November in the United Kingdom. The PlayStation Portable version was also available as a download from the PlayStation Store from 17 November.
Development and features
F1 2009 marks the first time since Electronic Arts' F1 Challenge '99–'02 that a Formula One game has been released on multiple platforms. Sony previously held the rights to F1 and released games only on their own consoles: PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3. The game engine is based on the Ego Engine that Codemasters have used on past racing games Dirt, Race Driver: Grid and Dirt 2. Codemasters released limited bundles of F1 2009 with Formula One-style wheels; the Wii Remote slots into this.
The game features all the circuits that are on the 2009 calendar including the Marina Bay Street Circuit for night racing and the new Yas Marina Circuit. The game only features the 20 drivers that started the 2009 Formula One season, and does not include the driver changes that were made during the season. There are 15 driver aids each switchable on and off for first time and experienced players, and in the multiplayer version, the level of help changes according to the player's skill, by using a "Fair Play" system. The game features slick tyres, as well as the newly introduced KERS concept, although the game has the feature on all the cars, not just the few that actually used it in the motor racing series. The game offers several different gameplay modes: Quick Race, Time Trial, a two-player split-screen mode on the Wii, and wireless multiplayer option on the PSP for up to four players. The game also offers the choices of playing through a whole Championship season, or taking part in a Grand Prix weekend. The game includes the possibility of participating in all the practice sessions, qualifying and the race. A career mode, involving three seasons of the Formula One World Championship, is also included. The game features technical settings for the player to change if desired, including aerodynamics, car balance, gear settings and suspension settings, wheel geometry, tyre compound and pressures, suspension spring rates, individual gear ratios, ride height and wing adjustments. About 70 smaller mini-game style challenges in "Challenge Mode" are also included.
As the Formula One calendar visited each track after Valencia, Codemasters released a video showing footage of the track: the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the Suzuka Circuit, the Autódromo José Carlos Pace and the Yas Marina Circuit were all shown, although the race held immediately after Valencia, the Belgian Grand Prix was missed out.
The game features all the drivers and tracks from the 2009 season, but does not represent the replacement drivers that featured in the real F1 season, therefore Luca Badoer, Romain Grosjean, Kamui Kobayashi, Jaime Alguersuari and Vitantonio Liuzzi are not featured, although Giancarlo Fisichella who replaced Badoer (substituting for the injured Felipe Massa) at Ferrari is featured in the Force India team (although he had spent over half of the season driving for Force India anyway).
F1 2009 received generally mixed reviews from game critics, for both Wii and PSP versions. The graphics of the game were heavily criticised by reviewers: IGN said that the textures were "murky" and the models "half-hearted", while the Official Nintendo Magazine said that "visually it's a dog's dinner". GameZone continued the theme, saying that "the graphics... are super plain and are often ugly", and also commenting that the game "looks like it should have been released for the PSone." GameSpot stated that the physics were "not up to scratch", also commenting that "Your car will bounce off walls and other vehicles with little regard for what would happen in the real world." The AI was singled out as a failure of the game, with IGN calling it "underwhelming", while Eurogamer said that the computer-controlled cars followed the racing line "too rigidly", commenting that "they appear just as likely to run into your gearbox as attempt to overtake you." The fact that the game contained only the 20 drivers that started the 2009 Formula One season, and did not take into account the driver changes that happened during the season, was another complaint. The sound was also criticised, with GameSpot calling it "uniformly poor".
Critics gave much praise to F1 2009's gameplay and handling, however. GameSpot said that the "cars have a good sense of speed", and IGN commented that the game has "a handling model that's at once accessible, rewarding and – most importantly – fun", while also calling F1 2009 a "driving game that's without compare on the Wii". VideoGamer.com also praised it, stating: "Racing in an F1 car should feel fast, dangerous and put you on the edge of your seat... This Wii simulation captures that feeling superbly, with a sense of speed that even genre rivals on more powerful hardware can't better." The Official Nintendo Magazine praised the gameplay as well, saying that the "handling is perfect and if you switch to the in-car cockpit view this is one of the most immersive racing experiences on the Wii." Reviewers also praised the "Challenge Mode" of the game; IGN strongly praised it on the PSP version, stating that "F1 2009 is best played in the Challenge Mode".
EuroGamer summarised by saying "This may not be the revolution the Formula 1 subgenre has been waiting for, but you're not likely to find many Wii owners complaining." GameSpot summarised the game by saying, "If you're looking for an arcade-style racer with a Formula 1 badge, then F1 2009 may fit the bill and is likely to keep you busy for quite some time. Unfortunately, if you're looking for a game that captures the essence and challenge of the pinnacle of motorsport, you're going to be disappointed." GameZone recommended that customers play the game before they bought it, while IGN said that "for fans of the sport deprived of an F1 game for so many years this does just enough to satiate the thirst." VideoGamer.com looked forward to the game's sequel, F1 2010, to be released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, stating that "there's undoubtedly something better coming next year, on platforms that can do the sport justice." VideoGamer.com summarised the general consensus by stating, "This is a perfectly competent racer, one of the best on the Wii, but it's not a classic by any stretch of the imagination."
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