This article was originally going to be called “Wii-ing on my dreams of an F1 game worth playing”, but Matt made me simplify. Curse you, editorial control!
In 1912, Franz Reichelt jumped from the Eiffel Tower to demonstrate his parachute overcoat. Let’s just say things didn’t quite go to plan, and there were no follow up inventions by Mr. Reichelt. Not even knowing this could take away from the sheer stupidity of Formula 1 2009 on the Wii.
I’m not new to F1 racing games on a Nintendo console, having wasted many hours on F1 Pole Position 64, which I believe was a problem. Playing F1 2009, I felt that I was playing that exact same game that was released a dozen years ago. During one of my many trips into the wall, I noticed that the animation on the surrounding trees had not changed. They were animated as if 2 pieces of paper had be intersected one on top of the other. I recall a similar set up for a Year 5 project I did. Add to this the fact that as soon as you gain a decent amount of speed (taking into account that these are F1 cars, so that isn’t very long) the scenery becomes pixelated and blocky. Considering what else was on offer at the expo, this lack of effort regarding the scenery was painfully obvious. This doesn’t seem like a major issue, but it really does distract from the game play.
If only the problems ended with the scenery. God bless Wii for never missing a chance to create a new controller patent. Apparently the Mario Kart steering wheel wasn’t good enough for this game, so they have now made one specifically for F1 racing. The difference? It’s shape. That’s it. It affords no advantages of any kind other than milking you of your hard earned money.
On to the gameplay itself, and here is where we reach somewhat of an issue with the vendors themselves. Whilst at an expo you would expect each company to be putting their best foot forward and trying to show their product in the best light. The vendors (read: 90% booth models), however, had only been told of their product that morning and were only learning as they went along. How is this a major problem? The majority of the Wii’s at the expo, and not just those for the F1 2009 stand, had not been calibrated properly. This made it extremely hard to get a good read on how each game handled. This meant that almost every game had you aiming or turning in an unnecessary direction. This explained my three pit stops in a single three lap race. Very disappointing in regards to all vendors not willing to put in the 30 seconds it takes to have your Wii-mote calibrated properly.
Even taking this into account, while playing F1 2009 the car’s handling was very touchy and you found that your car went from gently going around a corner to being in a Senna styling crash (too soon?). It was impossible to get a consistent race going. Especially frustrating as none of your opponents seem to suffer from the same issues.
Honestly, this game appears to be rushed and doesn’t appear to have any major chance at redeeming itself no matter how good a storyline they tack on to it. I doubt even a different console would help. Do yourself a favour and wipe the dust off your N64 and play this game the way it should be.
F1 2009 is out on the 19th of November ’09 through Codemasters. We previewed it on the Nintendo Wii at the iDEF Expo.