Codemasters has once again improved on their last instalment making a game that has qualities of a SIM but is also arcade enough in style for pick up and play.
F1 2013 picks up on the new season and like its predecessors through skill you can start from a small team and work your way to the top. The young driver test is the first thing you meet when the game loads and from there you are set a variety of challenges designed to get you accustomed to the game. I believe this stage can be skipped if you have an F1 2012 save on your console, but personally I like that it is there as the cars and how you manage them has changed and the process adds to the immersive nature of the game.
In game menus and navigation look sleek and are simple to use. Codemasters have used voice actors familiar to those watching F1 motorsport, a nice touch in particular is the use of Anthony Davidson to run through what an ideal lap looks like at each circuit, it adds to the immersion and speeds up how quickly a track can be learnt.
Graphics: Are excellent I am impressed that they are able to squeeze so much out of an old console, the lighting on the cars is superb and effects such as rubber ‘marbles’ off the racing line are small details that amplify a stylish and accurate racing game.
Audio: Differences in engine sound can be heard across the manufacturers and sound true to life showcasing how Codemasters unrelentingly push for quality and realism.
AI: In the past I have felt disappointed by the AI driving, rivals seemed reluctant to overtake and all too placid in defense, if you thought the same I’m sure you’ll find F1 2013 an improvement. Regardless of the car you choose good battles with AI can be had throughout the entire field. The AI seems as determined to defend 17th as it is 1st and I like this, it certainly makes alternate tyre strategy’s more fun.
Performance is all in F1 and this is also true for the game, how you extract that performance is the key and right from the young driver test you sense performance can be found in tyre management. This won’t seem odd to those following the actual F1 season, but it is a dynamic you have to master to do well. The game offers many options for race weekends varying the length of practice qualifying and the race. To get the most of the game it’s nice to participate in practice sessions to reap R&D benefits but also to set up the car. Car set up makes all the difference come race time; it will be the difference between victory and spinning out on worn tyres 2 corners from the finish!
Mid-session saves have been introduced and they are excellent, if something in life crops up you can save right there in the middle of a lap and the flashback function will assure you aren’t taken by surprise when you choose to re-join. Additionally you can create a save to return to if a risky tyre strategy fails and you can’t take the shame of defeat.
One-shot qualifying is an interesting new option and it’s just as it sounds; one flying lap is all that decides your grid position come race day. A fun option especially if you like the pressure.
Grand Prix game mode can be found once again so racing outside of career mode is available as well as Proving Grounds. In Proving grounds time attack and time trial can be found as well as a scenario mode for the 2013 cars where objectives of varying difficulty are yours to accomplish.
Classic: I love the classic content. The classic content is an isolated game mode from the modern cars and as standard you receive a fleet of 1980s F1 cars including Ferraris, Lotus and Williams you can drive these cars at Jerez or Brands Hatch in a variety of game modes. These game modes are the familiar Grand Prix, Time attack and the not so familiar Scenario Mode which sees you placed in a variety of situations and given objectives whether this is managing worn tyres, alternative strategy or mixed weather conditions.
The graphics are tinged with yellow and give it an immediate aged atmosphere, HUD looks more like classic onscreen graphics used by the BBC in days gone by. The cars look superb and they really bring those old liverys back to life. The classic cars sound as they should, cars with turbos have the distinctive whine and hiss and the naturally aspirated v10s sound like space ships on the down shift, truly superb heaps of fun. The cars in this game mode handle differently to the modern cars, you can feel the mechanical grip of the car through the controller and the way the power is delivered is noticeably different, however when you become accustomed it rewards nicely and is very playable.
1990s content is included in some versions of the game and for others is available as DLC, this content adds another fleet of cars this time from the 90s and 2 more tracks, Estoril and Immola. The two extra tracks are very much welcome as the classic content really is very good and simply it’s good that you can have more of it. Codemasters have said in the past they wanted to do classic content but when it was right and you can feel that the patience paid off delivering something that isn’t just a novelty add on but something good enough to stand on its own as a game.
F1 2013 delivers a career mode that previous players will be very familiar with, the season progresses as expected and in garage work is the same as previous iterations. It is enough to keep you entertained and I personally have enjoyed it very much, however a few tweaks would have been very welcome such as “fast tyre change” instead of consistently being wheeled into the garage which is such a small gripe but when it happens so often you might find yourself shaking the controller in an attempt to speed it up. In fairness it needs to be said that Codemasters make a game every year and this is likely the last for the current console generation so we can’t expect them to deliver perfection at this time.
Classic mode is utter joy to me and you can feel the passion and attention to detail that has gone into it. However many probably would have liked to see a Mclaren and Ayrton Senna and likely some more distinctive cars but as consumers we can have our dreams but must be realistic, licensing is expensive and this is Codemasters first Classic addition to their game. As we have seen them develop modern car gameplay they will doubtlessly polish and add to their classic content, something I look forward to very much.
Watch the F1 2013 trailer here: