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iPhone Game Review: F1 2009

Posted by: Tina at 1/28/2010 3:00 PM
With Codemaster’s recent release of Formula One on the iPhone, Apple users can now experience the racing challenges of world champs like Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso while steering across authentic circuits.

But how does the popular racing thriller handle on the iPhone? Read on to find out.



I’ve never been a fan of games utilizing the iPhone’s accelerometer. Save for those select few, the controls have never been reliable. F1 2009 is no exception. Given that the accelerometer is the game’s main control to directing the car’s motion, you’re stuck with fighting the iPhone for the remainder of your races.

The game does not want me to forget how difficult it is to force my car in the right direction without throwing it off course – even with the sensitivity toned down to the lowest level possible. Even the slightest move off course incites a verbal announcement that tells me that my track time will not be credited because I’m “cheating.” Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize my desperate struggle against the forces of the accelerometer counted as cheating. I’ll be wary for future endeavors with games that utilize that control method.

You can alternate control placement of the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System – aka boost), accelerate, and brake buttons to somewhat ease the pain of the accelerometer. They are slight changes for whatever thumb or finger placement you prefer, but have really become a standard addition to iPhone games (and all games, for that matter).

I think I’ve made my point on the controls pretty clear. Controls, however, just take some getting used to – even the most terrible of controls. If gameplay is intriguing enough, it can make up for your struggle. Unfortunately, F1 2009 cannot call upon its gameplay as its savior.

When the game started, I had a flicker of confusion and thought I’d clicked on some non-existent tutorial option. The game pits you against a single AI car to race against, but you’re really racing against the clock as the competitor’s car goes fairly unnoticed. The race felt incomplete, like a major gameplay factor was missing.

Though there are a variety of tracks – 17 to be specific – to race on, rendered in shiny quality graphics, I wasn’t given enough of a reason to want to play more. Racing games are meant to pump adrenaline levels and keep you on your toes. Feeling the heat in F1 2009 requires you to remember the leaderboard scores if you want that thrill. Instead of tailing the guy in front of you waiting for the opportune moment to cut him off, you’ll have to mutter motivating chats of how much better dron08 is at the game than you are.

Codemasters created a game that has the potential for being a cool racing game. But until they decrease sensitivity by a significant degree for somewhat more manageable controls, and add more gameplay options (perhaps some online multiplayer?) to the limited challenges of endurance and time trial, all they are offering is potential.

F1 2009
: $2.99
Gaming Nexus Grade: D