F1 2013 review: racing goes retro
I'm not really a huge racing fan. Not into Nascar. Not really into Formula 1 either, though I think Ron Howard's new movie, Rush, looks pretty good. That said, when it comes to racing games, I usually tolerate them. The majority of my experience comes from titles like Forza, Gran Turismo and Need for Speed, so Codemasters' F1 2013 is my first experience with a game solely devoted to these high-speed, open-wheeled race cars.
Since it was my first time with a F1 game, I started off with the Young Drivers Test – a really solid tutorial that prepared me for the challenge ahead. After some time at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit, you'll be prepared to tackle the racing that lies ahead.
F1 2013 is more of a realistic racer, which will appeal to hardcore fans, but not to all. Seeing as I'm not too great at racing games in general, I thought I'd struggle more than I did. Novice racers might be scared off, as I was at first, but if you stick with it, you'll find the intricacies and realism not as much scary as they are impressive. One such example of realism is the inclusion of the Drag Reduction System (DRS). Essentially, there's a rule in the 2013 F1 season that prevents drivers from using DRS to overtake another racer outside of designated zones in practice and qualifying. It's the little things like this that bring F1 2013's realism to the forefront.
As I said, F1 2013 is realistic, but the car doesn't freak out when you brake and the handling is more forgiving than I expected. So, if you're a newcomer, you should catch on pretty quickly. That said, while the handling is forgiving, the AI drivers are quite competent.
Sound-wise, 2013 hits the nail on the head. The one thing you absolutely have to nail in a racing game, especially for Formula 1, is the sound of revving engines. There's nothing to worry about there; you can hear the power behind every vehicle. The visuals are equally impressive. As we near the end of this console generation, we've seen some games that didn't look as hot as they should – that's not a problem with F1 2013. The human models are nothing to get excited over, but this is about cars. Really fast cars. Lighting and reflections are amazing, and wet roads and mist from the tires are truly a sight to behold. The only gripe I have visually is the presentation. It's just bland. Formula 1 racing has a huge, unique culture behind it, and it doesn't really come through here.
When it comes to game modes, I'm told that almost everything I played was in F1 2012 – Grand Prix Mode, Career Mode, and RaceNet for some good matchmaking. There's also the new Scenario Mode, which gives 20 scenarios in which you have to meet an objective in a certain situation. However, the biggest addition to F1 2013 is the classic content. Classics Mode brings in content from the 1980s and 1990s, from cars to drivers to courses. There's nothing specific to do with them – no challenges like NBA 2K's Jordan or Lebron mode – but it's cool to have beautifully rendered classic cars like the 1986 Team Lotus 98T driven by Mario Andretti. The 90s content comes as DLC, but if you get the Classic Edition, both the 80s and 90s stuff is included. You really feel the power behind these classic cars as you take them into Grand Prix, Time Attack, Scenario Mode and Time Trials. It all comes wrapped in a nice sepia-toned package, which you can turn off.
F1 2013 is a beautiful game. It chokes some graphical prowess out of an aged console generation to create a gorgeous racing title. The question is whether F1 2013 offers enough new features to entice owners of F1 2012 to go out and purchase the game. The Classic cars and drivers certainly help, as does Scenario mode, but they lack direction. That said, yearly titles like Madden don't change things up too much year-to-year. If you're a fan of Formula 1, it's a must-purchase – simple as that.
Reviewed on PS3