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F1 2013


by Stuart Davidson - 30th September 2013
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F1 2013 (PC) Review


F1 2013 (PC) Review

A couple of weeks ago we got our first real taste of Codemasters F1 2013 in its preview form and found it to be an interesting evolution of the franchise. Now with the review build in our hands we are able to give our opinions on the latest instalment. This time though, there are two editions of the game, not in the same way that other developers may publish with a deluxe fancy edition with random extras. No, this is all about content and how much the end user loves classic F1.

Whats it all about?
By now everyone should be familiar with the Codemasters F1 games but the basic outline is that this racing game has very thorough licencing with the F1 brand allowing the team complete freedom to use the official tracks, art, driver/team names and so on. Added to that we have a game engine which has been through many years of evolution, scaling with technology to offer advances in weather, rules, AI, physics and the like.

Now in 2013 we get the latest rule tweaks and tyre changes along with an expansion to the young driver test (Which we can skip part of as the game recognises those who have done it in 2012). This was a mode in the last game which allowed new gamers to the franchise a way of learning key game mechanics rather than being thrown into a season and getting completely hammered by the other cars. The Proving Grounds area of the game also offers some lighter challenges for new users with task based scenarios which don't require us to win in order to succeed. We can for example try to recover a few places after a late pit stop or beat our team-mate in the final race standings.

Of course we also get the full season mode for 2013 with up to date track and teams which allow us to dip in to single races, seasons and careers as we see fit. Scenario and time trial racing is also present as is online multiplayer and split screen but key to this release is classic content.

This is where the two editions of the game come into play. With the standard edition we get all of the normal content expected of a F1 game including Racenet, the online hub for our F1 experience but added to that is the Classic 1980s content. That's 10 iconic drivers, 5 classic cars and two circuits (Brands Hatch and Circuito De Jerez). Then with Classic edition the content is expanded with the addition of seven 1990s drivers, six more cars and two additional tracks (Imola and Estoril).

How does it play...
Sticking with the 2013 based gameplay for a moment it is fair to say that gamers who have played any recent F1 game will feel right at home here. The cars handle very similarly to the 2012 edition and so while the presentation has received a refresh the core gameplay is very similar... and it should be... this is after all based on an actual event.

The various challenges and game modes keep things fresh and allow gamers to dip in and out of the game for quick sessions when life maybe doesn't allow a full GP and mid-session saves make the game far easier to fit around our schedule too.

The difficulty level remains high in F1 as well; something that separates this franchise from the other Codemasters racing titles. Games like Dirt and Grid can be quite lenient, or just down right absurd in terms of what they allow but F1 punishes users for straying too far from the norm. This can be pretty demanding at first, especially for new players, when trying to achieve the goals in the young driver test but it does force us to spend time getting better and looking at how we can shave a second or so off here and there around the track.

Thinking back to the 2012 edition we noted that the game tended to be a little bit temperamental in how it judged corner cutting, sometimes being a little too aggressive in its decisions and disappointingly that is still evident in the new revision. There can be times when driving right on the edge that the game thinks we have cut a corner and gives us a time penalty but other occasions when we clearly did cut and it doesn't give a punishment. On the plus side voiceovers have been tweaked to be more relevant to the on screen action something which wasn't always true in 2012.

Where the game also suffers a little is in the overall engine. Codemasters continue to use the Ego engine and to be fair to them it is a solid platform but it is also now a dated one. The benefit of this is that pretty much anyone with a midrange card can look to play with high/ultra detail at a decent resolution but many enthusiast gamers have a system capable of so much more than Ego permits. It would have been great to see Codemasters meet the launch of PS4/Xbox one with the 2013 game and a brand new engine. No doubt they will enhance things next year but as good as F1 does look now, it could be better on todays tech.

Of course one of the big draws for any F1 fan is the inclusion of classic mode and that is where we spent a lot of our game time with F1 2013. The mode does feel a little bit bolted on due to having its own menu area but it is clear from the first entry into classic mode that Codemasters have put some considerable time into the new content.

The nostalgia is really piled on from the beginning in classic mode with Murray Walker voicing the game and the graphics receiving a change in style to reflect the era. Once we are in the game there is absolutely a distinct feel to the older cars and how they drive which is ideal because players can mix and match, for example taking the old cars out on current season tracks.

For anyone who has ever gone Karting and then driven home afterwards this is the PC (or console equivalent) of that bizarre light steering feel. Going from the 2013 cars back to the likes of the 1980 Williams FW07B feels much more like driving a cart than the newer cars and the gameplay is far more frantic in GP mode. It's quite an achievement to offer two such distinct feels within one game and Codemasters should be very proud of this.

Summary
We feel there really should be one single version of F1 2013 where everyone gets all of the new content but that minor issue aside the game is a success. Yes it is now in need of a visual overhaul and yes the core gameplay is very similar to 2012 but last year's revision was a great game and new classic mode ads a huge amount of fun (and significant content). In fact it's likely most people will spend the majority of their time in classic mode, just tearing round the likes of Brands Hatch in a 1988 Williams FW12 because it plays fantastically.

Recommended Award
1980s Cars & Drivers 1990s Content
(F1 2013: CLASSIC EDITION)
1980 Williams FW07B 1992 Ferrari F92 A
  • Original Driver: Alan Jones
  • Team Legend: Alain Prost
  • Original Driver: Jean Alesi
  • Team Legend: TBC
1986 Team Lotus 98T 1992 Williams FW14B
  • Original Driver: Mario Andretti
  • Team Legend: Emerson Fittipaldi
  • Original Driver: Nigel Mansell
  • Team Legend: David Coulthard
1988 Ferrari F1-87/88C 1996 Ferrari F310
  • Original Driver: Gerhard Berger
  • Team Legend: Michael Schumacher
  • Original Driver: Michael Schumacher
  • Team Legend: Gerhard Berger
1988 Team Lotus 100T 1996 Williams FW18
  • Original Driver: Satoru Nakajima
  • Team Legend: Mika Hakkinen
  • Original Driver: Damon Hill
  • Team Legend: Jacques Villeneuve
1988 Williams FW12 1999 Ferrari F399
  • Original Driver: Nigel Mansell
  • Team Legend: Damon Hill
  • Original Driver: Eddie Irvine
  • Team Legend: Jody Scheckter
  1999 Williams FW21
  • Original Driver: TBC
  • Team Legend: Alain Prost
Classic Tracks Pack (F1 2013: CLASSIC EDITION only)
  • Imola - former host of the San Marino GRAND PRIX
  • Estoril - former home of the Portuguese GRAND PRIX
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