|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: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
On the multiplayer side of things, you can challenge up to four friends in a standard race or one other player in a custom Championship via local ad-hoc connectivity. I was utterly surprised multiplayer was included. In fact, multiplayer wasn't needed to make the game worthwhile. Still, it's nice to have the functionality, and it works almost perfectly. Unfortunately, it's likely you're not going to have anyone to play with, especially if you're an American, as you'll probably be the only one with a copy of the game in your circle of friends. Because of this, I would have liked to have seen online action through infrastructure mode. Having the ability to join in with other racers around the world and post times and Championship points to a leaderboard would have been great.
The game is well-crafted in general; of course, certain system limitations due hamper the final product. First and foremost, the analog nub is practically unusable. Thankfully, the D-pad does an admirable job of letting you feather the steering. Also, the remarkably in-depth car handling tuning system on offer doesn't really translate into a distinct driving experience - I could sort of tell things changed when taking a specific slider from one extreme to the other, but subtle adjustments simply weren't reflected. Additionally, the inclusion of KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) by the FIA in 2009 threw a bit of a grease-monkey into the wrench for Sumo Digital. In case you don't know, KERS is essentially a reserve of usable energy that is captured whilst braking (rather than simply dissipating as heat in a standard dynamic braking system). This essentially provides racers with an extra boost for passing. While KERS is an integral part of the game, you'll be able to overtake cars and set P1 lap times without it. I'll be interested to see how this functionality evolves next year.
Graphically, the game looks very good whilst on the track, delivering speed and atmosphere. However, panoramic views of the horizon are decidedly bland. Also, details and textures, especially tire marks, grass, and sand are only vaguely apparent. Likewise, sounds whilst on the track are good - the high-pitched whine of the suped-up V8 engines reverberate nicely, but the crowd noise and pit crew communications are amateurish, nearly place-holder.
F1 2009 is a very competent translation of Formula One racing. Considering it's a handheld title makes it that much more impressive. If you are a fan or even just an admirer of Formula One racing, you'll be very happy with the technical racing on offer here. On the other hand, if you are into arcade racing or simply aren't patient, the methodical approach and team-centric racing mechanics will likely bore you. Still, the inclusion of Challenge and Time Trial modes are accessible enough for even the most casual racers.
CCC Editor / News Director