GAME NAME: F1 2013
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360
GENRE(S): Sport, Racing
RELEASE DATE(S): 4 October, 2013
A new year brings yet another F1 game – it’s something that’s become all but too familiar with sports games these days. FIFA, Madden, NBA, NHL – sport titles release year in and year out and now the F1 franchise has fallen prey to the same trend. What this means is that developers are stretched for ideas. Yes, they can change the cars up a bit and tweak some of the tracks or the mechanics, but you can’t help but feel that the thread is running very thin on these set of slicks.
As with F1 2012, you’ll be dragged into the Young Driver’s Challenge where you’re taught the ins and outs of being a Formula One driver. How to tackle corners, when to activate DRS (drag reduction system) or KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) and how to deal with a wet track, amongst others, is just some of the things you’ll be expected to know. It’s a carbon copy of what you experienced in F1 2012… even the same circuit of Abu Dhabi is used to complete these tests. And in spite of the odd tweak, you can’t help but experience a sense of déjà vu. Yes, you can skip it, but then you lose out on some valuable achievement points. At the very least Codemasters could have checked if you’d done this via your F1 2012 profile and let you skip it by default. For newcomers however, it’s absolutely essential.
In terms of modes, there is so much to sink your teeth into. You can jump right into the other career modes, outside of ‘Young Drivers Test’. ‘Season Challenge’, arguably the most entertaining mode of the lot, has you joining a team and challenging a rival throughout the season. Beat your rival in two out of three potential races and you’re given the option to replace him in his team mid-season. It’s nothing like the real thing, but in the world of games it works and makes it all the more fun. ‘Career’ has you joining a smaller team as a rookie. Complete the season with enough points and you’ll be rewarded with more contracts from the bigger teams such as Red Bull, Ferrari. Mercedes or McLaren.
Where it seems much of the time was spent with this year’s iteration is with a new mode called F1 Classics. It’s what makes the game something special this year. Here you can race cars from the 80’s, and if you’re willing to pay for DLC (seeing that you’ve not bought the classic edition) you can enjoy the 90’s era too. Legends such as Nigel Manson, Michael Schumacher and Alan Prost can be selected to race on two classic circuits outside of the current tracks in the form of Brands Hatch and Jerez. To drive home the legacy of these races, you’ll witness a yellow tint on the screen that somehow resembles that era, though it can be disabled. What you will notice immediately is how differently the cars handle and you may feel lost without the aid of KERS and DRS.
Another new mode that dovetails off of this classic era (as well as the modern era in fact) comes in the form of ‘Scenario’ mode. Like the name suggests, you’re provided with a historic scenario and have to relive and overcome the circumstances. Early circumstances are relatively simple to manage as you’ll have to pass some cars in order to gain enough points. Later on you’re confronted with weather and mechanical issues on your car extending the challenge to levels of near impossibility, especially if you’re after the gold award. It’s a true challenge to any F1 fan, but it also emphasises one of the problems plaguing the franchise – it’s incredibly difficult to master.
You’re welcome to give Proving Grounds mode a bash where you can fine-tune your skills by taking part in Time Trials or Time Attacks. The problem, however, is that if you’re playing on Easy Mode with all assists turned off, you’ll likely end up with the back markers when the chequered flag is waved. The AI is remorseless; they’ll cut you off wherever they get the chance and they know exactly when to make use of KERS and DRS. Playing the harder modes with assists turned on is still a challenging affair, so no matter how big an F1 or racing fan you think you might be, there will be a challenge for you.
To (hopefully) give you some sort of an advantage, before every race, you can tweak your car’s aerodynamics, balance, gear ratio and more to get the most out of your car and a race. If you’re not quite sure what to do, a quick Google search will supply you with an array of possible setups for the various cars that works best on any specific circuit you’re playing on. For newbies who, understandably, could not be bothered there is a quick setting that explains how your car will handle downforce or corners. That said, if you have no clue what F1 is about, it’s not going to help you all that much. F1 2013 is for fans of the sport and not for racing fans that don’t get the sport. It’s hardcore, be well aware of that.
There is fun to be had though if you’re not all THAT serious about the sport. The multiplayer modes are obviously a little serious, although you will still find witless idiots driving in the wrong direction as per the typical online experience. It’s great to see that Codemasters still support system link, though it will require another copy of the game. But fear not, there is a split-screen mode whereby you and a friend can challenge one another. It’s likely the only place where it’s not too challenging, dependant on how competitive your buddy might be.
So, should you buy F1 2013 if you own F1 2012? It depends how much nostalgia flows through your veins. If F1 Classics sounds appealing to you then you’ll definitely find enough here to love, but if you’re purely after the new season roster, I recommend you hold on for next years upgrade as it will in all likelihood receive a next-generation coat of paint and a new set of tyres. Because if you’ve played any Codemasters F1 game, you’ll know what F1 cars are capable of when they have fresh tyres to tackle the race.