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October 25, 2013
F1 2013 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
3/10/2013Namco BandaiCodemastersCodemasters Birmingham1-22-16
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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F1 2013 is out now on PS3, and it's fun.
Although I wouldnít claim to be an avid fan, Iíve always had a bit of time for Formula One. I took sides in the Ayrton Senna Ė Alain Prost rivalry of the 80s and 90s, as well as the Michael Schumacher Ė Damon Hill spat, and in the past few years Iíve cheered Mark Webber against Sebastien Vettel (despite the fact they are teammates). As far as video games go, Super Monaco GP remains one of the most played and enjoyed racing games of my lifetime. With the capable folk at Codemasters developing the game for the fourth straight year I was looking forward to F1 2013.

F1 2013 is fully licensed once again, and includes all 19 circuits (as well as two classic F1 circuits Ė Circuito de Jerez and Brands Hatch), 11 teams and 22 drivers from the 2013 Formula One season. All of the game modes from previous years return, so thereís Grand Prix mode where you race as the current real-life driver of your choice in a single race or full season, Career mode, multiplayer races both online and offline (split-screen or LAN), and the Proving Grounds for some scenarios and time attack/time trial modes.

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Detail in the F1 cars is very impressive.
Career Mode is where you are likely to spend most of your time, and there are four game options available. First off, and the most important stop for new racers, is the Young Driver Test, which puts you through an increasingly challenging series of tests. Performing well on the Young Driver Test has the tangible benefit of unlocking better teams for you to start your career at, so itís not just window dressing.

Season Challenge is a fast-paced game that squeezes an entire F1 career into just ten races of three laps each. You start off in a low-level team such as Caterham or Marussia, but can earn better cars by selecting a rival and beating them in a best two out of three series to win their car. The Drivers Championship is up for grabs too, so itís all to play for.

Career is a more traditional F1 experience that spans five years, with nineteen races per year. You can improve your car via dedicated research and development sessions, and races are much longer (minimum length is 25% of a real-life F1 grand prix) than in Season Challenge, which brings in wear and tear to your tyres and mid-race pit-stops. This is the mode for dedicated F1 racers.

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F1 2013 - a pitstop in the 1980s.
New to F1 2013 is a mode known as F1 Classics which allows you to pit some classic vehicles and drivers of the past against one another in a fictional racing series. All copies of F1 2013 include five teams from the 80s, including the 1980 Williams team led by Aussie Alan Jones. Other classic drivers who turn up include Alain Prost, Mario Andretti, Michael Schumacher and Nigel Mansell.

The Classic Edition of the game includes three new Williams and Ferrari vehicles, as well as their drivers, from the 1990s. (Note: The 1990s content is also available as DLC for those with the Standard edition of F1 2013).

The game modes in F1 Classics are much the same as the main game Ė Grand Prix, Multiplayer, Time Trial, Time Attack and Scenario, and they make full use of all the classic teams and drivers. In Grand Prix mode you can race on any of the twenty-one circuits in the game (19 modern day tracks, plus the two classics) in a single race, or create your own season of up to up to nineteen events.

Ok, enough about the game modes Ė how does it actually play? Quite well actually - once you understand how the game wants you to drive. F1 2013 puts a premium on sticking to proper racing lines, and if you deviate from them youíre bound to struggle. Itís also important to make sure your car is through a corner before trying to accelerate out of it; doing so sooner usually results in your car doing a doughnut.

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F1 2013 needs more driver interaction.
Cars from better teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull are not only faster, but clearly handle better too (as youíd expect). It might be my imagination but the classic cars didnít feel as responsive as their modern day counterparts. This would make sense from a technological standpoint, and it also adds another level of challenge in terms of coming to grips with them.

Other factors play a role in handling too. Driving in the rain is significantly trickier than dry conditions, just as it should be. The spray coming off the back of other cars reduces visibility to nearly nothing (I suggest switching to a higher viewpoint). In longer races the wear and tear on your tyres has a major impact on handling. Conserving their tread with sensible braking and acceleration, not to mention staying on the road is vital to success.

Anyone looking to play the game with a friend (or friends) is well catered for. You can play online or locally, either with split-screen or a LAN setup. Given the smaller screen size of split-screen games, I definitely recommend the LAN option. You can play in a quick match, custom race or co-op championship. The last option is notable because you can set the race length to three or five laps Ė which is considerably shorter than those in your offline career. Lobbies are intuitive and itís easy to invite any of your existing friends, or indeed anyone you know the PSN name of. Online play runs well technically too, with no noticeable lag in the games I played.

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Tracks are faithfully replicated.
There are a few disappointing aspects to the game. The balance, so far as the length of game modes, seems a bit off. Season Challenge is too brief, but would be a lot of fun if it spanned multiple years. On the flip side Career mode is hampered by its length. Personally Iíd have preferred the option to set up custom seasons, or set some (or all) races to shorter length. Currently races last 30-40 minutes a piece and they require so much concentration that I found them exhausting.

Pit stops are still handled awkwardly, with the whole process automated from the moment you enter pit lane until youíre spat back onto the track. Engineers donít make suggestions on the timing of pit stops based on what others are doing either, so itís nigh on impossible to make strategic pit stops.

The final issue I have is that the game, while perfectly functional and still good fun, lacks passion and innovation. Iíd love to see more interaction between drivers in the career modes Ė particularly your teammates, and the rival you select. Road Rash 2, released back in 1992, had better interaction between rivals than F1 2013, and that simply shouldnít be. The F1 Classics mode will be appreciated by all, but it really offers nothing new outside of a few new cars and famous names. Thereís nothing truly innovative in there.

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Williams FW18 with Jacques Villeneuve driving.
Visually the game holds its own, with all the real life tracks recreated in great detail. Cars look fantastic and are so polished their surface reflects their surrounds as they fly around the track. Car damage, something left out of so many racing games, is a sight to behold. There are plenty of races that have a sharp turn early on, and the bottlenecks that form there result in plenty of mayhem (especially when your inner GTA V driver comes out!). The game runs at a super consistent frame rate, regardless of how many cars are onscreen.

The in-game sound youíre going to hear most is that of car engines, and while that makes perfect sense it does get dull after a while. Commentary has long been abandoned in Formula One games, but youíd love to hear some, at least for key events. Either that or have your engineer let you know a bit more about the race. Has anyone crashed out? Where is the Driverís Championship leader currently placed? These are the kind of details you wonít hear, though the engineer does give you some other details, like how far youíre ahead or behind of the next car. Like much of the game the sound is serviceable, but wonít win any awards for innovation.

In F1 2013 Codemasters have the core of a really strong game, and F1 fans are going to lap it up. Unfortunately itís a game that hasnít made big strides since Codemasters started developing the game back in 2010, and as a result itís showing signs of age. F1 2013 could have used an infusion of personality if innovation was out of the question, but sadly both are absent. If you love F1 and havenít played the series for a year or two F1 2013 is an easy sell. Everyone else might be better off waiting for 2014...

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSCars look excellent and the tracks have been lovingly recreated. Runs at a constant frame rate at all times too.
SOUNDCar engines just arenít that excitingÖ A more verbose engineer would have made things more interesting.
GAMEPLAYEvery race takes your full concentration, and they are rewarding (but taxing) as a result. An infusion of personality (like more driver interactions) is needed though.
VALUEPlenty of game modes to try out, but career races are long enough that some might be scared off prematurely.
OVERALLF1 2013 is a technically polished game that, aside from a few 1980s cars and drivers, doesnít offer anything new or revolutionary this year.

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