“F1 2009″ by Codemasters (Sony PSP)

The Sony PSP and Nintendo Wii are the first consoles to get the new F1 game

The Sony PSP and Nintendo Wii are the first consoles to get the new F1 game

After a three-year wait, F1 fans finally have an official Formula 1 game.

New licence-holders Codemasters have produced a game based on the 2009 season for the Sony PSP and Nintendo Wii, while a 2010 game is under development for the more sophisticated PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms.

It’s fair to say most F1 Fanatic readers have been clamouring for a simulator in the Geoff Crammond mould. But the PSP and Wii offering is clearly aimed at more casual gamers – it’s an arcade-style title which owes a lot to its Sony-produced predecessors.

2009 season data

As you’d expect from an officially-licensed title, all ten teams are present and correct with the 20 drivers they started the season with. Romain Grosjean, Luca Badoer, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Kamui Kobayashi aren’t available to select.

You get all 17 tracks as well and I took the first opportunity to dive into the acid test of any F1 game – Monaco. It’s the most recognisable F1 track in the world, and the large amount of street furniture can make it difficult to render properly.

Codemasters have done a decent job of it – they haven’t gone down the path of making the circuit far wider than it is, as a sop to challenge-averse gamers. But the lack of collision damage on the basic setting means you can ricochet around the principality and still win comfortably.

Another tricky challenge for the designers was simulating the new Yas Island circuit before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had even happened. Here they’ve done less well – there’s a lot more grass in the game than there is in real life. Although they have put in the underground pit exit and the hotel straddling the circuit is there too, the mid-race sunset doesn’t happen – the entire race runs in daylight.

The representations of the tracks are generally good with most of the major track-side scenery in place. The circuits are all up-to-date but some of them feel a bit flat – particularly Spa.

Of the two main technical innovations to appear in 2009 – KERS and adjustable wings – only one is present. Every car has a KERS (whereas only McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault actually raced them) and you get a limited number of jabs per race. The adjustable front wing is not simulated, but given how little we heard about the technology in 2009 it hardly seems worth grumbling about.

On the whole it’s a largely faithful recreation of the 2009 championship. The teams and drivers perform broadly in line with their overall position in the championship standings, but without the kind of extreme fluctuations shown by Force India at Belgium, McLaren at Hungary, or Toyota at Monaco, for example.

Pick-up-and-play

As you’d expect practice sessions, knockout qualifying and full race distances available. As well as the usual career, championship and single race modes there’s also a ‘challenge’ option where you have to complete a certain task. This can be setting a fast lap, winning a particular race or overtaking a driver without making contact. As you complete challenges and win races you unlock new parts of the game.

For an arcade game the set-up options have a surprising amount of detail – you can tweak wing angles, gear ratios, suspension and tyre settings and much more, and you can usually suss the difference it’s made to the car’s handling.

But the handling model is very basic, which it has to be given the limitations of the PSP’s all-button control system. Getting the car around the track quickly requires a delicate and rapid touch on the buttons. As you’d expect, the onus is on pick-up-and-play simplicity, not realism. It does make for a fine multi-player experience, with up to four players able to race at the same time.

Racing the computer-controlled opponents is much more formulaic, They cling to the racing line and barge you out of the way without mercy if you dare occupy the square of tarmac they’re heading for (make your Michael Schumacher jokes in the comments). You can happily charge past ten of them at a hairpin while they queue up to go around it, and it’s hard to get overtaken if you don’t crash.

“F1 2009″ offers little in the way of killer new features that make it stand out from the game it replaced, other than that it’s more up-to-date. It’s hard to escape the feeling it’s something of a stopgap product for the ‘popular’ end of the market and we’ll only see what Codemasters can really do with the F1 franchise when F1 2010 comes out for the PS3 and Xbox 360 next year.

But while hardcore gamers wait for the more mature title to come along, less demanding players will find a lot of fun to be had from “F1 2009″.

If you’ve ordered “F1 2009″, or are planning to, tell us what you think of the new F1 game in the comments. “F1 2009″ is also available for Nintendo Wii, and I’ll be trying that version of the game soon.

F1Fanatic rating

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F1 2009 by Codemasters – pictures

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F1 2009 by Codemasters

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39 comments on “F1 2009″ by Codemasters (Sony PSP)

  1. BT52/B said on 19th November 2009, 0:51

    Only in the videogame can anyone overtake in Valencia lol

  2. PeriSoft said on 19th November 2009, 5:11

    I wouldn’t be terribly excited about anything in the mold of the most recent Crammond work – anyone who was using sprites and writing cycle-dependent timing code in 2002 needs to be hauled out back and shot.

    If you want a serious simulation, look to iRacing. I’d rather run an SCCA spec racer at Limerock in iRacing than a badly-modeled F1 car at Silverstone in the flavor-of-the-month console arcade racer.

    Forza3 is a pretty good compromise between the two, though.

  3. great PSP game :) really :p

  4. Bilstar said on 19th November 2009, 12:03

    Given Codemasters’ past record which includes Grid and Colin Mcrae Rally which became the Dirt series, there is no reason to believe that 2010 will be anything other than excellent. To many, possibly the best f1 game ever made from a gaming mechanic point of view. As people above have said though, the level of simulation they use will very probably be considerably less than any of the Crammond creations. Probably. Judging by Grid and Dirt tho, I would wager they will be a hell of an experience. No one makes racing games like Codemasters. Should be truly, truly spectacular.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 20th November 2009, 20:30

      R u serious, the grid was the most awful driving game, and the biggest let down in gaming for years. The games you list are not for racing enthusiasts, they are for casual gamers with little appetite for real simulation or even real racing. Forza 3 is the best out there at the moment. I am praying that codemasters sort out the console versions with f1 2010, but from what i’ve heard we are going to see a redressed grid.

  5. Are the new games available here in the USA? Because I have yet to find an electronics retailer selling them.

    If they aren’t for sale here, then Bernie and all these fans who complain that Americans don’t like F1 have nothing to complain about- how do they expect people to develop interests in the sport when the game is kept away from the world’s biggest consumer market?

  6. Icthyes said on 21st November 2009, 12:21

    Looks pretty decent for a PSP game, wish I still had mine!

  7. If I never played granturismo on the psp, I would have thought this game was a good effort. But Gran Turismo’s graphics are way better and the controls are more refined. Physics are also better on gt, so my first impressions on this game wasn’t that good.

  8. The previous F1 2006 was good except it took an hour plus to set up a car to make it to a race in championship / career mode. So it was letting down the whole point of gameplay.

    The previous F1 2005 game was ok as well but the car simulations were not as good as F1 2006.

    Now Codemasters have developed F1 2009 for PSP and its got one big flaw. The cars are seemingly drifting/sliding all over the place, you just cannot play this game. I do not know what codemasters think this is meant to be but its simply not anything I can use for more than 2 minutes.

    It might start up quicker and there is no prolonged car setup nonsense as in F1 2006 but whats the point of the game if the car simulation is so bad.

    I might be wrong – maybe this is meant to be realistic, in that case no one can is ever going to be able to play the game.

  9. Michael said on 27th November 2009, 6:47

    I have got the psp version. This F1 2009 game’s handling is too difficult to control to put in consecutive good lap time. You also have to remember the next corner and the racing line as well. In the career mode, I tried normal and hard mode. In the normal mode,I can get a pole easily with 1 sec to spare from Austrilian lapped 1m28s will be good enough. During the race, I can pull out 1 or 2 sec a lap if my lap time is below 1m29. It is too difficult to keep the consistency. In full lenght race, i made a few errors and cut thru few corners that led to couple of driver thru penalties. And i still managed to take the chequered flag easily. There is not much challenge so i restart with hard mode again. But in expert mode, 1m28s can only gaurantee you to Q3. In order to take the pole, you need to beat 1m27s something. It is very challenging but i don’t think there is anyone to be able to take a podium with the psp. There is no chance you can keep this kind of lap time for the whole race.
    And for the car setup, i have no idea how to do it and don’t bother to do it. Overall it is a good game but there is much more to improve. In terms of difficulties, i hope codemaster can add one level between normal and hard. In this version, normal is easy and hard mode is impossible to win.

  10. Michael said on 27th November 2009, 7:04

    Folks, if you want experience sliding or drifting. You need to study hard and remember the track. Every corner has a braking point. You need to brake at the same spot every time you take that corner. Otherwise you can never keep the car on track.

  11. James said on 1st February 2011, 5:05

    A bit late on the review, I know, but here is my 2c..

    car set-up: detailed enough for a psp, not for a hardcore F1 nutter.

    graphics: Decent for the Psp, framerate judder when all 20 cars on the grid.

    car handling: poor, hard to control with a d-pad, they should not make the cars as twicthy on the psp version to take into account the fact you cannot play the psp game with a wheel.

    AI: ridiculos behaviour, too much erractic braking a swerving. could have been coded much better.

    gameplay: poor, it’s very hard to win a race even when you qualify from the front row becasue of the sensitivity of the d-pad. They should’ve really made the psp f1 cars less twitchy to accomodate this.

    penalty system: relaxed penalties I get penalised for either a slight bump or not even blocking the AI on their ho-lap, the AI get no penalties for doing the same things as far as I can see, even though they can frequently ram up your rear end around many corners.

    major bug: fuel and tyre wear – ok, you play a 25% distance race and you’re on a 1 stop strategy, but i run out of fuel on my penultimate lap?? pitstops are the major issue in this game, either the man holds you there for an eternity, or they make you pit twice even though you’re on a 1 stopper because they somehow managed to get not enough fuel in your car to last you the end of the race. This can happen in every race, and ruins the enjoyment value. Bring back the manual pit-stops where you press the buttons and do it yourself like F1 06, instead of leaving yourself in the hands of the AI in the game for your pistops. Bring back the user control in pit lane.

    Conclusions: wait for f1 2011 this year, and get it for pc or another console.

    Still asking myself why I traded in my F1 2006 for this. I preferred everything about F1 2006 compared to this, even though it’s not as up to date, but it had a much better game engine, AI, and I preferred the tracks they had on the F1 calender which they had back then anyway. I’m not much of a fan of the newer tracks, with the exception of Singapore which is awesome to race at.

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