Sometimes ya just need to drive around.
Ah, F1… the sport filled with thrilling races on real-world turf (read: doesn’t involve only making left turns) and with cars that are way too squat and funny-looking for most Americans with a need for speed. Where they don’t drive for the money (as much), they drive for the need to be the fastest thing on the road. They drive for pride.
[image1]And yet, for cryin’ out loud, there aren’t even any exclamation marks on the back of the package! How can anyone expect a game to sell in this generation if they’re not yelling on their own packaging about how awesome they think they are??!!!!
F1 2009 is simple and straightforward: race real-world cars down real-world tracks with real-world drivers – realer than those other realistic racers – and make the clock your virtual bitch. It’s nice that the cars look shiny and close to the real thing, but that’s where the true realism ends.
The courses, while I’m sure they’re completely authentic down to the angle of curve, don’t look realistic at all. Every building, upon further inspection, is just a Jenga-like conglomeration of squares in the shape of a building, and the architecture of some of the more elaborate tracks just look pixilated and plastic. Even the crowd isn’t interested as they just stand there, not even enough energy for a stock three-frame cheering movement.
Between the WII and PSP versions, the only notable difference is the option to use the Wii-mote by itself as an actual steering wheel. The only problem is that it’s just too slippery. It might work more precisely with the WiiMotion Plus attached; otherwise, using it becomes akin to picking up a slim piece of soap dropped in the shower – impossible to get a firm grip on, though somewhat manageable with enough time to practice [Nope, not going to do a joke. ~Ed]. With the right control scheme (I prefer the Mote-and-Chuck combo, though it might as well be a Playstation pad), it’s easy to pick up and play without too much hassle or training.
[image2]But that practice won’t help you against the other cars on the road. They either seem to be set on a firm path or there just to push you out of the way. On urban tracks, you will bounce around like a pinball. On tracks with grass, you will slip in every direction no matter what you do, until the wall says otherwise. And on the tight-quarters tracks, some of the drivers seem to have no other goal than to catch up to you, ram you, get in front of you, then let you catch up just to start the process again.
Speaking of ramming, you have the option to allow your car to take damage, which can alter the handling of the car about mid-race through. Car damage might sound cool (all right, it does… dent that baby!), it only affects the way your car handles. In no way, shape, or form does it alter the look of your car. With so many ways to damage a car, why is it that the only way I can notice I’ve taken any damage is by compensating a little to the left and looking at my “car status” screen for red lights? I didn’t even slow down!
Truth be told, F1 2009 fancies itself a simulator like Gran Turismo, but in reality is more an arcade racer akin to Daytona USA. With the right combination of driving aids on, the game is actually playable for anyone with an interest in driving around in non-ovals, but there just isn’t anything here to get in a tizzy about. It’s not gorgeous, it’s not deep (even Career mode isn’t), and it’s not anything you haven’t played before. And while that might not say much for what’s actually here, it isn’t the worst thing either system has to offer.