Guest post by Alistair Chen.
F1 2013, the latest game in the Formula 1 racing series, is a game that a lot of diehard fans have been waiting for. Has developer Codemasters succeeded with their latest incarnation? They have, but not as well as fans are probably hoping for.
Unlike last year’s installment, where regardless of the player skill level the game forced you to sit through the Young Driver’s test which serves as the tutorial of the game, F1 2013 allows you to jump straight into it. You can learn the basics about how to drive an F1 car and the techniques, eventually leading to a one to two lap time trial of the circuit. Depending on how well you do you can unlock up to six teams to drive for at the beginning of Career mode. Throughout the game, you are able to progress from driving for one of the less prestigious teams, all the way up to the top-tier teams, such as Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari or Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
Handling the car is very much the same as F1 2012 so those familiar with the series will feel at home when driving around a circuit at high speed, even if they haven’t touched the game for a long time. Codemasters has done a very good job of making the game feel like and accessible arcade racer while also catering to the expert players so it feels like a real F1 simulator. Turn on the assists and turn down the AI and you can easily dominate what the game throws at you. However turn the assists off and turn up the difficulty and it adds to the realism of what an F1 driver has to go through every race. As for what’s new, Codemasters has put in a mid-session save option which is a welcoming feature into the game; you can literally save in the middle of any session you are in and can reload from that exact point saving you the tedious task of starting whatever it is you’re doing all over again.
F1 2013 may look like any other motorsport racing game out there but actually has a lot of depth to get the best result, much like in the real life sport. It isn’t just a simple matter of getting in a car and riding it around for a number of laps thinking you’ll come out on top. To get the most out of your car each race you are given the option to “tune” it, giving you options to tweak the aerodynamics, balance and alignment and gearbox of your car, thereby changing its characteristics. It takes lots of experimenting but once you find the right setup you will perform even better on track and it will give you an edge. Managing your tyres for example is very important. Poor tyre management can cost you grip which results harder handling of the car and slower lap times, ultimately costing you positions. There is also the job of managing fuel for your car which also adds to how powerful your engine can be while driving. For example, turning your fuel mix to the max will make the car go at its fastest but use up fuel more quickly. On the other hand, a standard mix is a good balance while a lean mix has the opposite effect of the max mix. Managing pit stops is also an important factor, choosing which tyres to use and when to come in to change them for a new pair are crucial to the end result of a race. All of these factors add even more depth and requires the player to plan their moves carefully to achieve the best result and safely cross the finish line.
F1 2013 features three main modes that make it stand out from the pack: Career Mode, Season Challenge and Classics Mode. Career Mode is more or less the same as in previous titles. As mentioned above, depending on how well you do during the Young Driver’s test, your choice of starting teams will be affected. Once you’ve picked your team you will race through the whole 19 race calendar. The team will set you objectives each race weekend such as qualifying and finishing in a certain position; these objectives will always vary depending on your performance. Midway or late into the season you will be given an option to challenge a rival, beat him in the points by the end of the season and you will most likely get the seat at his team which can land you an early seat with one of the top runners. But the main idea is to slowly work your way up the ranks and win over the top teams eventually leading to a contract offer from them and hopefully achieving the glory of being a F1 world champion. If the original Career Mode seems too tedious there is also the season challenge which is a dumbed-down version of the normal Career Mode. This race calendar only has 10 races which consist of a one lap qualifying session and a five lap race. As in Career Mode, you are once again allowed to choose your rival and have to beat him within the next three races. Do so, and you will be guaranteed a seat in his team.
However, the main attraction of this year’s instalment is the Classics Mode. This mode will take you back in time to the 80s and 90s and allows you to drive the greatest cars in Formula 1 history, play as the drivers from that era and choose from four more historic circuits. It features all the same modes (such as Grand Prix, Time Attack, Time Trial, etc.) as the base game minus the Career Mode. This gives players many more hours to experiment with new cars and circuits and getting a feel of how different F1 cars of that era are compared to their modern day counterparts. While this is a welcoming addition it wouldn’t have hurt to give more variety. Apart from this there are also the Grand Prix, Time Trial and Time Attack modes, as well as multiplayer options. You also are given the opportunity to race online with up to 16 other players as well as a local two player split-screen option where friends can go head to head or race with a full grid of AI-controlled drivers.
Like the rest of the game, the visuals haven’t changed much in the past titles. The details on the cars and tracks look stunning during certain weather conditions (e.g. heavy rain looks very realistic). Unfortunately the rest of the visuals don’t quite fit in with the cars’ detail; it looks like Codemasters put all their effort into making the cars nice but decided to make the circuits, drivers and pit crew look somewhat cartoony. Another problem with F1 2013 is that most, if not all cut scenes and news clippings are re-used making almost everything seem too familiar.
Overall, F1 2013 feels like an update rather than a brand new title. The Classics Mode is very welcome addition to the series, but the content still isn’t enough to justify handing over nearly $100 for a game you’ve already played before. If you haven’t played an F1 game in a long time and or are willing to give one a shot this is an excellent title for you. But for those who have been played the other recent F1 titles might want to wait for a price drop or skip it completely.
Good accessibility regardless of skill level | Classics Mode is a good new mode | Mid-Session saves save a lot of tedious repeating
It’s basically the same game as last year | A lot of assets are recycled