Speedway 2009
| Speedway 2009

Do you remember the days when driving games required you to actually steer your way around corners, rather than power slide everywhere? No, me either. Still, it’s pretty easy to see why game developers have latched onto the notion of drifting around race tracks, as it essentially epitomises high speed driving action in our Hollywood-addled brains.

But the speedway is an arena entirely built upon the idea of power sliding around dirt tracks, which makes Speedway 2009 feel somehow more authentic as you kick start your dirt bike and work hard to stay in control while out of control.

I can imagine that speedway is a pretty unforgiving sport, and that’s definitely reflected in Speedway 2009. Right from pulling the throttle back at the beginning of each race, mistakes are rewarded by immediate expulsion. Not that this is a particular criticism, as the immediacy of the speedway race demands fast and accurate reactions, and the essence of this is captured quite superbly.

A fluctuating bar revs in time with the bike as you wait at the starting line. Once it crosses into the green area at the top, hitting ‘5’ sets the bike going. Hit it too early and you’re disqualified; hit it too late and you’ll be slower off the mark than your opponents.

There’s no need for any accelerator controls after this initial kick start, since the whole purpose of the speedway is to keep the wheels spinning and the engine revving as hard as possible. All you need are left and right controls, which put you into a sweeping drift as you attempt to steer around the wide corners.

The bikes in Speedway 2009 react superbly as they powerslide around the long, oval tracks, and exhibit noticeably different behaviour depending on the surface you're driving on. Undoubtedly the slicker tracks are more fun, and keeping yourself on the bike without crashing into the outer barriers or crossing the white line in the centre is a tenuous and thrilling balancing act.

The computer controlled opponents are pretty good, but also perceptibly fallible, which makes for a very fair competition. At times, the race will simply stop as one of the other bikers comes off his saddle on the other side of the track, at which point the remaining riders take off once again from the starting line.

Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot else to do in Speedway 2009 other than power sliding around oval tracks, but what there is of it is very entertaining.

You can build a career for your rider, and work hard to keep your bike in good running order (and to afford the necessary upgrades), so there’s some depth to the racing and serious motivition for shoring up the cash prizes.

Overall, this game makes an effort to concentrate on providing a first class representation of speedway racing, and nothing else. This strong focus on the core of the game does it a lot of favours, and provides a racing game with unique flair and a clear purpose.

Speedway 2009

An admittedly limited racing game that excels at its primary task of power sliding around a hazardous, slick track and taking you to the limits of control, then a little bit further