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Formula 1 2009 sounds a little dated, but actually offers a masterly combination of fun and realism. Even two years later, this is still the best F1 game available on Nintendo's casual console.
The Wii is often seen as simply a kids' console and its racing games kind of reflect that. F1 2009 is a game seeking to straddle the line between arcade racer and serious sim.
F1 2009 (ed: still the newest F1 game on the Wii in 2011) offers all the usual race-modes as well as a three year career that gives you the chance to become F1 World Champion.
It may lack the overall gloss and graphical polish of F1 2010 (PS3), but it does a good job of representing the thrills and spills of the Formula One circus.
As you might expect on the Wii, it approaches things a little differently to the Xbox and PS3 games. I really enjoyed the test-drive invites that begin the game and decide which team you get to start out with. Something about it added a greater sense of choosing a team that was a genuinely good fit for your driving style.
However, like my recent review of Ferrari Challenge (Wii), using the Wii-wheel is something I can't recommend. The simple fact that the wheel isn't connected to anything makes it very difficult to judge how your car is responding or gain any sense of feel for it. Turn the assists off and you'll simply smash from one length or Armco to the next, which makes the game virtually unplayable.
Turn them back on and switch to the Wii-mote/Nun-chuck set-up and things improve greatly though. It's not perfect, the system doesn't quite deliver the level of feel its rivals do, but the steering recreates the twitchy thoroughbred F1 feel it is aiming at.
The steering recreates the twitchy thoroughbred F1 feel it is aiming at.
It also feels fast - portraying that sense of speed is kind of important for an F1 game and F1 2009 does a good job of it. The tracks compare well to those you normally see on your TV on a Sunday afternoon and the opponent AI is solid if a little predictable at times with all drivers following the same racing line.
Of course, being F1 2009 means the game is a little dated, you can expect Button at Brawn, Fernando's not at Ferrari yet and as for Michael Schumacher... probably on a beach somewhere or behind the wheel of his Fiat Panda!
The tracks however are relatively up to date, so you can expect night racing in Shanghai and take a lap round the Yas Marina when you get to Abu Dhabi.
The most disappointing aspect of F1 however, is the sound. The game has totally failed to capture that immense wail of an F1 car at full speed. Other sound effects are just plain irritating. It must have taken quite a bit of effort to make an F1 car sound like my old misfiring SEAT Ibiza.
The damage modelling is also a little odd looking, and restricted to broken wings and suspension, but again, this game is about striking the balance between being in-depth and arcade.
Treading this line well is where F1 on the Wii really succeeds. It's no mean feat to balance the serious sim and fun racer, but with some sensible compromises it does very well.
If you want a game you can dive straight into and have some fun, F1 2009 does it. If you want something a little closer to the real championship simply switch off a few driving aids and turn on a few penalties.
While it's never going to win any beauty pageants it delivers the sense of speed and the buzz from winning.
While it's never going to win any beauty pageants in this 1080p, HD world it delivers the sense of speed and the buzz from winning - and you don't need to be a motor racing anorak to get the most out of it. In fact those seeking more in-depth detail may well be best off looking to the PS3 or 360 versions.
Despite the dated team list and driving roster, F1 2009 still offers a great deal to Wii racers looking for something with a little more realism than the likes of Mario Kart. Put the Wii wheel away and you'll enjoy some top-notch Formula One fun. It's the best real-world Wii racer I've played.
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