Codemasters' latest edition to their F1 series hopes to impress with classic 80s and 90s content. But is it worth it?

User Rating: 7 | F1 2013 X360
I love Formula One. I watch it every weekend, follow the news stories closely and I was even privileged enough to be involved in the making of Rush.

Naturally, then, F1 2013 was a must-buy for me. Classic cars from 1980 to 1999, old-school tracks such as Imola and Brands Hatch as well as Niki Lauda's 1976 Ferrari thrown in for good measure? It's a yes from me, no question.

Anyone whose played previous F1 games from Codemasters will know the drill for the career mode. F1 2012 livened things up a bit with the authentic, although slightly more than patronising, Young Drivers Test - and it has to be said F1 2013 builds on this introduction rather well. If you already have an F1 2012 game save file on your console, F1 2013 will pick this up and give you the option to skip 'day one' of the YDT. Furthermore, completing the various challenges is to your advantage this time around, as it gives you the ability to start your career with a better car for your first season.

The rest of the career mode is the same as before - get the best qualifying and race results as you can, complete R&D tasks, become the number one driver within your team and ultimately beat that pesky German in the Red Bull to win the World Championship. The re-addition of a full F1 weekend, i.e all three Friday practice sessions, Q1, 2 and 3 on Saturday and then the Sunday Race is great, why it was ever out of F1 2012 is beyond me and many others. Also, the ability to save mid-race is a godsend. Want to do a 100% race but you don't have 90 minutes to set aside? Just save your progress and pick it up later.

In terms of graphics, F1 2013 is definitely a step forward. The lighting is far more improved since F1 2012 and in wet weather conditions the picture is remarkably more detailed and sharper compared to games in the past.

The AI cars are a bit less dumbfounded than they have been in CM's previous efforts, although at many times during your career they are often way ahead in terms of pace - a good three seconds a lap faster isn't unusual, especially in the early stages of the game. Realistic to a point, yes, but frustrating.

It's nice to see CM making the effort to bring a bit more authenticity to the circuits too. The 'Mickey Mouse' chicane in Singapore, for instance, has been removed and replaced with a left-hander, the same as it was in the race a few weeks ago.

Moving over to Classic Mode, you are greeted by a vocal introduction from legendary commentator Murray Walker. Sadly that's all you hear of him throughout the game but it's certainly a nice touch, reminiscent of F1 World Grand Prix on the N64 from 1998, for which Walker did full race commentary.

It's great to be able to drive some old gems from the 80s and 90s in F1 2013 - especially coupled with some classic tracks, it really gives the game some extra depth and replay value.

As one might expect, the manner in which these cars handle is not as, ahem, polished, as their modern counterparts. Mechanical grip is far reduced on the classic cars, the throttles are more sensitive and under braking there's certainly less confidence. But they do sound great. The V12 cars from the 80s really howl to life when you bang the throttle to the floor on the exit of a corner and the turbo kicks in and the 90s V10 cars let out a real high-pitched shriek as you muscle them round any circuit which takes your fancy - old or new.

However, CM's ambition does get the better of them at times. This is particularly apparent when you do a Grand Prix in classic mode. All of a sudden, you're pitted against drivers which never drove the cars they did in real life, or even before they actually started in F1. Michael Schumacher in a 1988 Ferrari? Or Mario Andretti in Ayrton Senna's 1986 Lotus? CM say that they've tried to bring a variety of drivers together from the same era - nice as an idea but in reality it's awfully clumsy. Michael Schumacher did indeed drive a Ferarri during his F1 career, but in 1988 he wasn't even in Formula One.

Scenario mode is a bit of a let-down, with the 'challenges' simply being to beat the guy ahead of you. A recreation of some of the classic F1 battles of yore would have been a delight.

The online multiplayer mode is pretty much the same as it was in F1 2012 too, although the ability to do proper online champions is back - another welcome re-addition.

There's no fancy tricks here; the interface is the same as last year except with an updated skin over the top and on balance this is a shame. Sprint races are still only three laps in length - five would be far more enjoyable, especially with DRS only being available until lap three anyway.

Unfortunately There's more clumsiness here too - the only way to do online races with the classic cars and tracks is to create a custom lobby and do it yourself. There's no preset classlc quick race option... why?! This is a real glaring omission, CM really missed a trick here.

And worst of all, for now at least, there are bugs. I have Parc Fermé rules switched off which should allow me to change my car's set up in between qualifying sessions and for the race - but it doesn't. The fuel setting before a race lets you choose how much fuel you want depending on your driving style. Except it doesn't... a cautious fuel mix should give me 5 extra laps worth of juice, but instead it only gives me one - the same as a normal fuel mix does. I've heard reports that in online races when the cars' performance level is set to equal, the Ferarri is up to 2 seconds a lap faster than everything else by default. This means league racing is totally pointless as there is a disparity between various cars despite the performance being 'equal'.

Furthermore the DRS beep from F1 2012 which sounds when you're within the one second range has gone, tyre-wear scaling is far too punishing, especially in 25% races and all the sound clips from your engineer are lifted straight from last year's game.

There is simply no excuse for developers to happily release games with such an appalling number of large bugs, especially when consumers are paying such a high premium. If this were a free iPhone game with in-app purchases then perhaps I could let it slide, but when I've paid £45 for the classic addition, it's utterly shameful.

To sum up, then, it's very hard for me to positively recommend F1 2013 at the moment. Once the bugs have bee squashed it'll be a much-improved, if still a clumsy, experience. But at the moment it's an almost perfect-weighted balance of good and bad, perhaps even favouring the bad more than the good.

If you have a decent PC with a set of steering wheel and pedals, just buy rFactor and be done with it.

Discussion

1 comments
swimbearuk
swimbearuk

I agree more with this review than the main review. The game is very difficult to play with a control pad due to very twitchy controls.

Does the issue with the computer controlled cars being 3 seconds per lap faster go away later in career mode, as I'm getting very frustrated by it already? Especially as they are faster even when I feel like I've done a really good lap.