Game Review: F1 2013 (PC/PS3/Xbox360)

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Codemasters F1 series returns for its latest instalment with F1 2013.  This is a game not necessarily for racing enthusiasts, but this is the game for the F1 enthusiast.  This is the most authentic game not only in its genre, but one of the most authentic games on the market.  Let’s find out why.

Codemaster racers have always been pretty to look at, regardless of its generation.  From way back to the great Colin McRae games (God rest his soul), the evolution into the Dirt series, GRID 2 and with the topic of this review, the F1 series, F1 2013 is no exception.  Each and every car is exceptionally designed, with every minor and large detail wonderfully crafted.  Fans of Formula One will not only instantly recognise each car within an instant, but many of us will be looking out to make sure that each sponsor is accurately located on the car and clothing gear, racing helmet, straight on to the inner cockpit.  Codemasters have left no stone unturned as they aim to make F1 2013 as an authentic experience for the fan, as much as possible and that has been more then achieved by the talented studio.

The great attention to detail doesn’t stop with the cars and drivers either, as each circuit is as well replicated as humanly possible.  Well at least to the current generation consoles full capabilities anyway.  Whether it’s the UK’s own Silverstone Circuit, the infamous Eau Rouge corner or the stunning night time circuit of Singapore, F1 fans will be visualising every upcoming corner and straight to perfect as every detail is taken into account and replicated to full effect.  Regardless of the sport, the vast majority of us like to play in clear, sunny with a slight breeze conditions (well I do anyway).  I’m sure if you ask most F1 drivers they would also pick similar conditions (possibly minus the breeze) and F 1 2013 looks stunning in almost any weather variant.  A big improved feature of F1 2013 is the weather dynamics, meaning that it can be clear and sunny one moment and then pouring down with rain the next.  Other than changing the way you play and approach your tactics (which I’ll get on to a little later), the pouring rain has never looked so good in the sports gaming genre.  Seeing the wet puddles, rain drops thumping off the nose tip of your car is almost as therapeutic as sitting at the bedroom window and watching the rain pitta patta against the window.

 

While Codemasters may not have the kind of budgets that the likes of your Gran Turismo’s and Forza’s, as they have proved with previous F1 and Dirt instalments, they know how to maximise their potential.  This makes me get even more excited to how good they can make F1 2014 look on the next generation console.  Someone please find me a Flux Capacitor!

Speaking of the Flux Capacitor and time travel, there’s a new gimmick that has been introduced into this year’s F1 2013 and that’s the classic mode.  The classic mode features iconic drivers, cars and circuits from the 1980’s and 90’s.  Now depending on which edition of F1 2013 you purchase, will depend on the content that you will be getting.  You have the choice of the standard and classic edition, but should you choose the standard edition then never fear as you will also still be receiving some classic content.  The standard edition will bag you content from the 1980’s, Nigel Mansell, Gerhard Berger, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and more, along with their respected F1 cars, Circuit De Jerez, former home of the Spanish Grand Prix and the former home of the British Grand Prix, Brands Hatch.  The classic edition will bag you all of the 1980’s content and the 90’s content to boot, which includes the likes of Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard, the former San Marino Grand Prix, Imola as well as Estoril, the former home of the Portuguese Grand Prix.  To read up on exactly what you’ll be getting from both editions, you can check out all the details by clicking HERE.

There is a variety of modes to jump in with, but even though the classics and modern day content share pretty much the same modes, they are kept separate from one another. So you won’t be able to race Sebastian Vettel’s current Red Bull machine against Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari from the 1990’s.  Even though that would be a dream duel and both drivers would match up well against one another, the modern day F1 race car against one back in the 90’s, would be somewhat of a miss match.  But it would be nice to have had the option to place Schumacher in the Red Bull and Vettel in the 90’s Ferrari, but perhaps that will be possible in a future F1 game?

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As you first load up F1 2013, you will be directed straight to the young drivers test.  Here you will go through a series of tests and videos all with the purpose of fine tuning your driving skills.  Now I would advise both experienced and inexperienced F1 gamers to give this mode a crack as it will help brush up your skills or perhaps even learn something new.  Plus at the end of it all, you will earn a nice little trophy/achievement.  After the tests are complete, you are now able to select from various different modes.  As I said, both the current and roster of yesteryear are kept apart, but the modes pretty much remain the same.  You have the Grand Prix, a onetime Grand Prix which will come in handy for that quick fix.  Time Attack, which will require hitting the pre-set time, in a defined car, set weather conditions and six different locations.  Time Trial will have you set the best time possible.  The scenario mode will throw you straight into the action with various challenges to take head on.  In total you will have 20 different scenarios to take on, which are split into 4 sections, each containing 5 challenges.  Rookie, Team Mate Battle, Championship Title and Final Year tests.

All of the above modes are a side distraction from the main modes of F1 2013.  Starting with the Career, which is set over 5 long seasons and will feature the full face weekend, practise, qualifying and the Grand Prix itself.  The career mode will allow you to move teams, develop your car, and challenge your teammate, all in the aid of becoming the number one driver.  There is also the Season Challenge, which is basically a compressed career mode set over one season.  Here you will have one qualifying lap, before jumping into a 5 lap race.  You will also be able to move teams when receiving contract offers by beating your chosen rival.  The better quality of rival that you beat, the more lucrative offers you may receive.  But make sure to choose your team wisely, as you don’t have the luxury of time that you will have in the full career mode.

The F1 games have always been about discipline, knowing when to go for that all important overtake or powering out of a corner without spinning out of control.  One minor mistake can come at a great cost as you slip down the end of race standings.  If you go into F1 2013 playing as you would in GRID 2 or any other game for that matter, then you are going to be in for one hell of an epic fail.  Thankfully as with recent Codemaster racers, you have the ever important Flashback feature that allows you to rewind time and gives you the opportunity to correct your costly errors.  This is the most unrealistic feature of the game and purists may curse at it, but you will be thanking it when you spin out on the last corner of an epic race to the finish.  Keep in mind that you can only use the Flashback feature a certain number of times, so use them sparingly.

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You have to approach each and every race with the utmost perfection, but keeping your car from spinning out is not your only concern, as it is ever so important to make sure there’s no crashing into rival corners or cutting corners like you’re playing Forza Motorsport.  Doing so will earn you penalties and repeat offences can even cause you disqualification.  You must be very careful when approaching the first corner of the Grand Prix, as you are surrounded by a horde of cars and it’s very easy to crash into one another.   So it’s important to bide your time and wait for the next corner or two before you start splitting from the pack.  It’s very, very easy to crash into the back of the car, as it is for them to crash into you.  There is where the penalty points can cost you dearly if you are not careful.  So if you are not careful, you recklessness will cost you.

While the strict rules are ever so important in maintaining F1 2013’s realism, there is a downfall to those strict laws; it can seem unbalanced at times.  For example the computer cannot be fast enough to tell you the error of your ways and penalise you for it.  But on many occasions I found cars crashing into the back of me with no consequence, other than me spinning off the track.  On another occasion while the computer AI was keeping to its coded path, it started to nudge me off the track as I approached a bend.  The computer wasn’t penalised for this, but I did receive a penalty for apparently cutting a corner, despite being forced off the track by the AI.  90% of the time the strict and realistic laws working perfectly and it wouldn’t be quite the authentic experience without them, it’s just a shame that the game isn’t as quick to penalise the AI, as it is with you.

 

Last, but not least you of course have the multiplayer which is supported by Codemasters Race.Net service.  In case you didn’t know Race.Net tracks your stats to compare against other gamers across the world, while offering a variety of ever changing challenges, in which many will give you the opportunity to receive exclusive in-game content.  A big part of F1 2013, aside from the singleplayer, is off course the multiplayer.  F1 2013 supports both offline and online multiplayer and you’d be surprised to the amount of multiplayer games nowadays only support the online variety.  So it’s good of Codemasters to take the time and effort to include split screen and LAN multiplayer.  Offline, F1 2013 supports 1-2 players, while online supports 2-16 players.

There are a variety of online modes to jump into; one in particular that I believe will prove to be popular is the Co-Op Championship.  Which will see you team up with a friend or an online random to participate in 19 races over the course of one season, qualifying sessions will also be included. You can also choose from a host of race types away from the Co-Op championship, whether it be a ‘Quick Match’ to jump into or if you create your own race and choose to participate in an event that includes qualifying sessions.  You can also choose from a number of weather options that include dynamic, clear, overcast and more, as well as being spoilt for choice in the number of circuits you can pick from.  A cool feature that has made its way into the multiplayer, which is taken straight from the single player, is the inclusion of the classic cars.  Depending on which edition of F1 2013 you have, you can pick from the 1980’s, 90’s and of course the 2013 roster.

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There are many sounds as instantly recognisable as a horde of F1 cars revving at the start line, waiting to go, go, go!  Even the vast majority of none racing fans will know the noise of an F1 engine, to petrol heads; it’s one of the most therapeutic noises one can hear.  For me anyway, the classic feature is one that I will be visiting on many occasions, having the opportunity to race in those iconic cars, in the iconic locations against the legendary racers of the past, is pure F1 bliss.  But the biggest nostalgia moment that I had with the classics mode is when I heard the voice of legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker.  He acts as a narrator during the various classic modes, as he describes that challenges that lie before you.  This runs a close second to being able to drive in Nigel Mansells car, as the greatest nostalgia moment in the F1 2013 classic mode.

Overall I enjoyed my F1 2013 experience and I will do so long before next year’s instalment arrives, but after playing last year’s game it started to become clear to me that the series is perhaps reaching its peak on the current gen console.  So as the release date to the 2013 instalment approached, I was curious to how they could top last year’s game.  The truth is, not much has really changed when comparing last year’s game to this years.  That’s not a knock to the game, not at all.  It’s a game that Codemasters are quite clearly getting the best out of the game and I tip my hat to them for creating another authentic F1 gaming experience.

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The inclusion of the classics mode is without a doubt the feature that has top trumped last year’s game and has perhaps convinced fans to make the all important purchase.  It’s a mode that I really want to be more than a gimmick and I’m sure this is a feature that Codemasters plan to keep and enhance with every yearly update.  For all the great drivers and cars that are within this game, many fans are craving for the opportunity to race as the late great Ayrton Senna.  To be fair to Codemasters, there are a number of reasons that Senna has not appeared in this year’s title and I know he is a name that they want added to the roster as much as we do.  So hopefully we will see Ayrton Senna in a future F1 game from Codemasters and perhaps even have the inclusion of a season mode with the classic content, as you can do with the modern day roster.

If you are a fan of the F1 series, then the chances are that you already own this game or plan on purchasing it in the very near future.  Should you need convincing, it’s the same great authentic experience similar to that of last year’s game, but the inclusion of the classic content is well worth the admission on its own merit and is a touch of nostalgia genius.





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About the Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

In my 30+ years on planet Earth I have been an avid gamer for a month and I have never looked back since. My favourite gaming franchises are Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Call of Duty, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I like to collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I also love my football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake

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