Review: F1 2013 (PS3)

f1-2013-review-banner

Title: F1 2013
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download Standard Edition (7.1 GB)
             Classic Edition (7.3 GB)
Release Date: October 4, 2013 (UK), October 8, 2013 (US Download)
                       October 29, 2013 (US Disc)
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters Birmingham
Original MSRP: £39.99 (UK), $59.99 Standard Edition, $74.99 Classic Edition (US)
ESRB Rating: E
F1 2013 is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation 3 disc version was used for this review.

Gameplay:
With the recent critical and commercial success of Ron Howard’s film Rush (starring Chris Hemsworth), F1 2013 has an ample opportunity to piggyback on that money train. Certainly aiming to capitalise on this is the most prominently promoted addition to the game – Classics mode. In principle, this is a great idea which could elevate the game to ‘must-buy’ status. In practice, the dearth of content makes for a case of wasted potential.

Codemasters have decided to somewhat follow EA’s route with Tiger Woods DLC; it feels like you’ve been slightly cheated. Only two classic tracks and five cars have been included on the disc – ludicrously, everything else is behind a paywall. A further $20 is required to double your available circuits and add another six vehicles. Even with those though, it doesn’t feel enough. I can understand not putting everything out in one go, but 4/50 previously used tracks is a pretty weak effort.

This is where the frustration lays. Controlling these old cars feels distinctly different; the devs have done a fine job of replicating the unpredictable, jittery ride that one imagines these drivers had to endure. You feel exposed to the elements, thus more fearful and cautious. Handling, braking and speed are all realistically different too. So when so much work has gone into perfecting the quality, the low quantity becomes doubly annoying. Hopefully in the future, there will be more of a balance and we’ll see a mode that has some semblance of longevity.

F1 2013 D

Away from the Classics content, the alterations since last year are minor. Most of the modes are almost identical, and there’s still no return of a traditional season mode where you can play as a real life F1 star. Instead, you only play as your created driver – though as always, the term ‘create’ means typing in your name. It certainly lacks any character.

Young Drivers Test – the training mode introduced last year – is present once more, affecting the contracts you’re offered in the full career depending on the medals you earn. Experienced players will find this a waste of time though, so I’d prefer if the game looked at your PSN trophy percentage from F1 2012 to determine your skill level, rather than this system.

The actual racing remains superb; a fantastic blend of driving competence and tactical thinking. Whilst the plethora of customisable options and assists make it accessible enough, this is an unashamedly precise simulation of the most complex motorsport around. Which other game concentrates on “working efficiently with downforce” in its opening tutorial? Need for Speed addicts need not apply, but anyone who wants a severe driving challenge or a faithful recreation of Formula 1 will be in heaven.

F1 2013 B

Mid-race saving has now been added, to the delight of hardcore virtual drivers who compete in full races – often well over 50 laps. The ability to spread this over multiple sessions makes it more accommodating than ever to simulate the entirety of a season. Furthermore, another nice improvement is to the braking system, with which you feel much more in control approaching corners.

Finally, F1 2013 as a whole feels slightly soulless. Some would argue so is the sport in real life, so this is an accurate portrayal. I don’t believe it’s intentional however; rather the game lacks that little spark of creativity to make it more appealing and engaging. On the track though, there’s no doubt Codemasters have nailed the core racing mechanics, as well as the strategic focus on balancing caution and aggression.

Visuals:
At times, F1 2013 makes you question the need for next-gen; it looks that damn great. Not much discerns the aesthetics from last year’s iteration (we’re talking minutiae such as lighting being a tad more impressive), which is fine as it didn’t really need any improvement. My only gripe is the damage model not being on a par with its peers of the genre. Affects on the vehicle’s performance as the result of collisions seem to have taken a step forward, but visually, the destruction looks a few years old.

F1 2013 C

Audio:
Codemasters have continued their streak of wonderfully realistic sounding racing games, which now extends to an audible difference from the classic cars. Elsewhere, the menu music is bog-standard and, similarly to other facets of F1, sterile. Narration has taken a step up thanks to the legendary Murray Walker lending his voice talent to the game; although, not having him on commentary (or indeed adding any commentary, for that matter) is a missed opportunity.

Online/Multiplayer:
Unfortunately, F1 2013’s servers are completely desolate. The screen below is sadly an all too familiar sight. After continuously trying at various times on multiple days, I only took part in a single race with a single opponent. Whilst that ran smoothly enough, it’s not possible to give an informed opinion based on a few laps. I suppose the lack of activity is a damning indictment in itself – possibly this is a signal for the developers to innovate, and though it’s not a simple task, inject some creative new modes into 2014’s release.

F1 Online

Conclusion:
Unlike many annual franchises, F1 undoubtedly improves year on year. This may be the smallest set of refinements we’ve seen in the series, but that still ensures F1 2013 is better than its predecessor. Is it the perfect racer? No, and perhaps it never can be due to its niche appeal. But it’s creeping ever closer towards becoming the complete simulation package.

In a sport that doesn’t drastically change each season, creative added extras like the Classics mode are certainly much needed; let’s hope next year can provide a better (and cheaper) implementation of it. For owners of F1 2012, the majority of changes are minute, so it cannot warrant an upgrade. Newcomers be assured though that, despite the off-track deficiencies, this is still a phenomenal racer in almost every aspect.

Score:
8.5

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Buy this game from Amazon.co.uk:
Flag_of_Canada.svg
Buy this game from Amazon.ca:

 

Written by Raj Mahil

Raj Mahil

Game collector. Journalism graduate. Batman addict. Movie goer. WWE nut. Sports obsessive. Arsenal fan. Squawka.com Sub-Editor.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook