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F1 2009 PSP Review
F1 2009 PSP
Every now and then a game comes along that you can’t wait for. For me this game is F1 2009 for PSP. This is the first official Formula 1 game since 2007, when Studio Liverpool released their interpretation of the sport.
November 19th was the day I finally got to play with my favorite F1 drivers again on the world’s best tracks. But was the wait worth it?
The menus are very basic. First, you need to enter your name, country, and other relevant information that will represent you in online games and (more importantly) in career mode. The main menu shows a car in the background and your options. You can play a quick race, grand prix weekend, world championship, career, ad-hoc or challenges. Once you have selected a car in any mode, the background car will become the team you selected. It’s a nice touch that can go a long way in the overall presentation. Before each race, you will see parts of the track similar to the official telecast. The graphics of the game are very decent. The cars look good and the tracks are built with the finest detail. Although I have to admit that some of the tracks seem a bit flat. The first real problem comes when you start the race. Frames take a significant hit at the start of races and when there are many cars close together. You won’t notice it in practice or qualifying, but it will hurt your racing experience. The sound is also decent. I like that the engine sounds better than previous PSP F1 titles. But the KERS activation sound is really fake and annoying. As well as the main menu music.
The most important thing about a racing title is that it drives well. F1 2009 fails in this department. All the cars oversteer like crazy; a small touch of the direction buttons is enough to make even the slowest corners. This is troublesome because it makes small fixes very difficult. We also don’t like the inclusion of KERS (boost button 7 seconds per lap) on all the cars in the game. Only Ferrari and Mclaren have used it in real life and it is unrealistic to see it on any F1 2009 contender. After a few hours of driving, we got used to the steering wheel, which was great. But then came AI. PC cars have a tendency to rear-end you. They are too aggressive. But other than that, we have few complaints about PC cars. They can hit the wall and make mistakes, just like a real person. I was also surprised to see a Brawn car behind me in the first corner of the German GP.
Now I have to mention career because it is where you spend most of your time. An agent will contact you by email and keep you updated on F1 events and tests with other teams. At first you can test BMW and Toro Rosso, if you don’t get a seat, you get a place in the Force India team. So you drive the Grand Prix no matter what; you can’t be a test driver. We appreciate that since most people only care about the racing, but it’s just another layer of depth that’s missing from F1 2009. Two other complaints we have about career mode are that the emails feel very static. They try to make it more realistic by saying things like “Ferrari feels no competition for the 2009 championship” but overall it doesn’t feel human. The second and final problem we have with the career is the fact that it only lasts for 3 seasons. Once you’ve completed your career, two more exciting modes await. First is the challenge mode where you try to overcome big challenges like passing Hamilton or as many cars as possible. It works well with a portable system, but doesn’t excite an F1 fanatic like me. Ad-hoc does excite me. You can ride a whole season with a friend or anyone from around the world. It’s a lot of fun, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to test it yet.
Compared to the past
It’s hard not to compare this game to the last F1 game on the PSP, which was F1 06. First of all, F1 2009 has slightly better graphics and sounds, but that’s hardly an achievement since the game came out three years later. F1 2009 feels more dynamic in terms of penalties and AI pace. You can drive through or stop and drive by causing a collision. It’s really nice and really realistic. The pace of AI is also commendable. We found that the teams were faster than others in the curtain GP. Ferrari ran midfield in China but were very competitive in Monaco. This is something we haven’t seen before in F1 games – ever! Timing has also been improved in this game. Now your lap times are compared to the fastest time just like in real life. In F1 06, times were compared to your own personal best. F1 2006 has this game beat when it comes to commentary (F1 2009 doesn’t have it) and gameplay.
F1 2009 for PSP has huge potential. We like the little touches like the penalty system and the way the game handles time gaps. The graphics are really nice and it’s nice to finally be able to play with the latest cars and drivers. However, severe frame drops detract from the gaming experience and the handling is not even close to what an F1 car should be driving.
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