Formula 1 2009 Review for Wii

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F1 2009 is at its best when you're screaming around the track at high speed
F1 2009 is at its best when you're screaming around the track at high speed

F1 2009 is at its best when you're screaming around the track at high speed

Racing simulations don't seem like an ideal fit for Nintendo's Wii. The audience appears to be more casual in its tastes and the console's lack of horsepower sometimes results in games seriously lacking detail compared to the likes of Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5. So, F1 2009, the only F1 game to arrive on a home console this year, is surprising. If Codemasters' decision to use the Wii as the platform for its debut F1-licensed game isn't surprising enough for you, the fact that it's good should be.

It's worth making something clear about F1 2009 that is likely to turn away some racing fans: it's not a full-on simulation. Yes, it's got the official licence for the 2009 season, complete with all the drivers, events and race structure, but on the track the cars have an arcade-style slant to their handling model. It's not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. Skill is required to put in good laps while driving with the key racing assists turned off, but it's also more accessible than the previous F1 game that hit the PlayStation 3 back in 2007.

Core to the F1 2009 experience is your career, a three-season long mode that sees you trying to climb the ranks as you race in all the events featured in the recently concluded championship. The career mode is as complicated as you want it to be; full three-stage qualifying is included, but can be skipped if you want to jump straight into the race. All the rules, regulations and punishments seem to be in effect, but not being obsessive F1 fans, we can't guarantee every single rule is being enforced. If you're an armchair fan the re-creation is good, even if the hardcore might spot a few discrepancies.

Racing in an F1 car should feel fast, dangerous and put you on the edge of your seat with eyes alert as you try to take it all in. This Wii simulation captures that feeling superbly, with a sense of speed that even genre rivals on more powerful hardware can't better. Using an in-car view, with the bundled Wii Remote F1 wheel accessory held out in front of you, it's hard not to be taken into the virtual world. But plastic peripherals aren't always best: no matter how hard I tried to become au fait with this control method, simply because it felt more immersive, the more traditional Nunchuck analogue stick controls resulted in better on-track performances.

Sadly there's no online multiplayer, but there is a decent two-player split-screen mode that lets you compete against a friend. It's a shame that four-player couldn't be squeezed out of the console, but the two-player mode runs well and is preferable to no multiplayer functionality at all. You can at least play through an entire F1 season with a friend, either together in the same team or on rival teams. With the ability for novices to race once all the assists have been activated, anyone should be able to put up a decent show while pretending to be Lewis Hamilton.

Something that might make up for this bare-bones multiplayer is the Challenge mode, which throws more than 70 one-off tasks at you. It's still all in the realms of F1, but trying to get a podium finish while racing in the wet and from a losing position suddenly seems more fun when you're being challenged to do so. Aside from these scenarios, you'll have to race in one-on-one events, overtake challenges, drive through gates and much more.

Sadly that sense of speed is lessened by the sporadic frame rate

Sadly that sense of speed is lessened by the sporadic frame rate

As fun as the racing in F1 2009 is, and with as many "remember it's running on the Wii" get out of jail cards played as possible, it's impossible not to be mildly disappointed by the presentation. From the menus through to the in-game graphics, the game has a rough appearance that lacks the glamour usually associated with F1. The biggest offender is the jaggy in-game visuals, the sporadic frame rate and the low quality textures.

Yes, it's a Wii game, but the constant jumping around with the frame rate (which developer Sumo Digital admirably tried to get running at a smooth 60fps) really hurts the game and will make you question why the visuals on display don't look better. Even the damage model isn't anything special, coming across as merely functional. Audio work is also pretty poor, with the engine sounds being more annoying than they are realistic, and there's no commentary to be heard at all - all you get is the odd bit of info over the team radio. We're hopeful, and pretty confident, that next year's EGO engine (DIRT 2, GRID) powered next-gen effort will be an altogether more polished product.

That is the crux of my problem with F1 2009 on the Wii. It's a fun game, with an impressive sense of speed and the official licence fans want, but there's undoubtedly something better coming next year, on platforms that can do the sport justice. 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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mikec's Avatar

mikec@ Joesmithrealname

Joe, looking for some advice. I use the wii wheel and am having a hard time with throttle control. I get full throttle or nothing. I've tried balancing the throttle with the brake pedal er..rocker. Not satisfactory. Am I missing something. Can you suggest a better method?

Thanks,
mc
Posted 00:19 on 15 January 2010
robzey's Avatar

robzey

i love f1 but have mixed feelings about this game the gameplay is ok but shakey round certian corners of some tracks.What kills the game for me is there being no commontator what were the makers of the game thinking of like the other guy said a dork voice from the pit lane dont cut it,imagine playing pro or fifa with no commentary its just sad,But the game is not all bad but another problem is the cheapness of the press messages and team messages never change the game is not worth £40
Buy it from tesco direct with wheel for £28
Posted 16:07 on 09 December 2009
Joesmithrealname's Avatar

Joesmithrealname

Got it. Love it.
Very involved.
Very hard.
Top Gear got me INTO F1, now I'm living on the tracks.
Using the wheel.
NO driving assists for me, I'll either learn the right way or DIE trying!
Posted 06:18 on 02 December 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ robz48

nah lol
Posted 22:45 on 19 November 2009
Mike51's Avatar

Mike51

Great review Tom, now I am very excited to play this game. Does anyone have it yet? I ordered it from Gamestop, but they still have not sent it and I would like to just pick it up at a local store. Anyone know of a store that offers it?
Posted 22:23 on 19 November 2009
Dad's Avatar

Dad@ robz48

Thanks for that robz48, will do.
Posted 18:58 on 19 November 2009
robz48's Avatar

robz48@ Mr_Ninjutsu

Your dad goes on forums?
Posted 18:55 on 19 November 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ Dad

Genious name. I wish my dad's forum name was dad.
Posted 18:54 on 19 November 2009
robz48's Avatar

robz48

Hello Dad, If you want to tell us about yourself post in the introductions thread here. http://community.videogamer.com/foru...hread/page192/
Posted 18:49 on 19 November 2009
Dad's Avatar

Dad

Nice review Tom and... Hello everyone - new member here.

I'm really looking forward to this one, if only to reclaim some 'Mii' time on the Wii. My kids usually yawn and disappear whenever F1 is on the TV so F1 2009 looks like the perfect opportunity to take over the lounge, wind up the audio and convince myself i'm world champion material!

I can live with simplistic graphics but I just know i'm going to be a bit miffed if i get a fluctuating framerate. Also, (it's hard to tell from the advertising) the steering wheel accessory doesn't look as though it has a flappy-paddle style lever for the 'B' button, which would have been a nice feature for realistic gear-change.

Hopefully my dear wife will have a quiet word with Santa, when the game hits the shops tomorrow!
Posted 18:29 on 19 November 2009
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH

Nice review Tom, being an F1 fan myself I a little disappointed it didn't get a better score, but you can't blame it for trying to go up aggainst the big dogs and losing (espicially since it didn't come to badly). I'm still getting it though.
Posted 18:17 on 18 November 2009
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Disappointing it doesn't seem to be as good as the still pictures would make you believe.

I may still get this at some point but I'm not deperate for it on release at the moment. While I'll probably get it on PS3 I do like the idea of motion controlled steering.

Good review yet again Tom.
Posted 14:41 on 18 November 2009
Ghost_Dog's Avatar

Ghost_Dog

Got this on pre-order for my father in-law as a Christmas present.

Glad to hear it's not awful, should keep him happy (he's a big F1 fan).
Posted 13:32 on 18 November 2009

Game Stats

7
Out of 10
Formula 1 2009
  • Great sense of speed
  • Accessible for an F1 game
  • No online play
  • Basic presentation
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 20/11/2009
Platforms: Wii , iPhone , PSP
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Racing
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 685 15
Check Price