F1 2013 reviewed: This once-great series is quickly running out of ideas

F1 2013

By on October 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm

A thousand laps and more. Loosely calculated, that’s how far I’ve travelled with the Codemasters Racing F1 series since its 2010 inception. That doesn’t necessarily make me an authority, but it has turned me into a slightly obsessed fan. Imagine then my utter delight at the offering of a whole new era of F1 racing — and then my crushing disappointment at the shallow, annually-incremented reality.

To be fair, this is still the same gorgeous looking, immensely involving game as before. The colour might be more dramatic this year and there’s a little extra flash to the on-track presentation, but underneath the hood lies the same incredibly slick racer that easily caters for beginners, right up to the truly hardcore simthusiast.

This year, the newest drawcard for your dollars is F1 Classics, a recreation of 80s and 90s F1 motorsport with some of those decades’ biggest names. After a brief introduction by Murray Walker (from whom you’ll barely hear again) you’ll be able to experience the authentic sounds and handling of a past Formula One era set against an exciting backdrop of, well… nothing, really.

Without a binding theme, the Classics mode is just two tracks (four if you bought the more expensive edition) and a handful of cars and drivers. The VHS screen-overlay suits the near-ancient level of technology in these beastly old go-karts, and the bare-boned, sepia-toned landscapes offer some variety to the rarely changing line-up but these can get boring very quickly and it’s a shame that more tracks weren’t produced… and an even greater shame that some of the still-raced modern courses didn’t receive the ageing treatment. The car handling is appropriately wild and woolly which is fun at first, but not in a way that’s significantly different enough to present a real challenge.

Grand Prix mode is where you can really bring eras together by choosing any car and any selection of tracks to make your own season and it’s here where I strangely became frustrated with the poor voice talent. Your race engineer is the same boring voice who has accompanied you since the F1 series started and he’ll talk at you you no matter what vehicle you drive; it’s disappointing to not have an alternative this many years in. Unlike the serious modern career path, there’s an opportunity with the GP mode to do something different, something whimsical that would offer a proper alternative to the serious modern career.

This may well be one title in the series that you can comfortably miss

What could liven up the proceedings would be commentary from Martin Brundle and the BBC team. I would normally never hold a game accountable to my own personal fantasies but there’s such an opportunity here to bring a race to life and really connect you to what’s happening around the track; even at ludicrous F1 speeds, each lap falls into a simple rhythm leaving plenty of brain space to enjoy their banter.

Looking past that, so much more could have been made of the licenses that enabled the classic content and perhaps rather than faded pit lane photographs in load screens we could have had a snippet of an interview with Emerson Fittipaldi, choice quotes from Damon Hill, or even just info-bytes about the sport itself.

Rounding out the primary modes are a rehash of last year’s activities. There’s a slightly extended version of last year’s Young Driver Test which forms an introduction to motorsport for new drivers but this disgracefully occurs at the same venue as F1 2012. The Scenario modes have been extended and offer fresh and fun snippets of gameplay that are more successful at connecting you with the sport than any of the career modes. Time Trials, Time Attacks and various (unplayed as of the review date) online modes are present and boringly accounted for. Throw in Codemasters traditionally unskippable introductory elements and I cannot recommend this to anyone who owns F1 2012.

I suspect that every issue I’ve put forth here comes back in some way to the fact that this is an annual title and as such, consideration has to be given by the developers to the line between player enjoyment and the need to save content for next years title. Codemasters have the balance wrong this time around, and the Classics mode is so poorly mishandled that this may well be one title in the series that you can comfortably miss.

Codemasters Racing’s F1 2013 is without a doubt the recommended starting point for anyone new to the series, as the presentation and gameplay is exceptional and is simply the most faithful representation of the sport ever seen. Fans of the series however will quickly recognise how little the chassis has changed and that they’re paying far too high a price for what should have been F1 2012′s DLC.

Good:

  • Slick presentation
  • Classics Mode is a brief diversion
  • Did you like F1 2012? You’ll like F1 2013

Bad:

  • Classics Mode is ultimately a missed opportunity and a waste of time
  • Almost no improvements at all over previous games
  • Should have been released as DLC for F1 2012

F1 2013 will be available on Steam from October 4 for $69.99.

This review copy supplied by the publisher.

Screenshots in this review also supplied by the publisher.

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11 comments (Leave your own)

Running out of ideas? F1 games have really only changed technologically in the last decade or so, there’s only so far you can flesh out F1 and keep making it interesting.

Hell, it’s only die hard racing fans that buy the games anyway.

 

Did you only read the title? :-/ There’s plenty that could be done to really open this genre up!

I also really do think that the title sells far better than just to the very small segment of die-hard racing fans! It wouldn’t have made it this far without a lot of people buying it.

 

^if anything the F1 games don’t appeal to the small segment of die-hard racing fans because its like playing GRID with F1 skins. Not to mention that “Codemasters” is so far from the truth these days that you’d be lucky to get the games to run without spending 5 hours trawling forums for fixes.

good thing Assetto Corsa is not far away now.

 

Sales aren’t massive but apparently they are sustainable. The problem is CM don’t listen to their playerbase, and make a lot of stuff based off focus groups. I still don’t know who is a part of these groups but they should be summarily executed for some of the crap they think will make the game cooler. A bit like the car Homer designs in The Simpsons…

The article is spot on, CM could do so much with the game, but they don’t. They even try to fudge it into the Ego engine which hasn’t aged particularly well and the failings in it’s coding are becoming more obvious with each release they do.

TBH I did buy F1 2013, for two reasons:
1- I want to race competitively with a league.
2- The are no other real options for F1.

If there was another option say SMS or the dude’s behind rFactor doing it, then I’d be all over it like a rash…

 

rFactor had CTDP or some other similar named mod.. iRacing also has an excellent F1 racer in its stable of cars.

I couldn’t stand F1 20XX online, even when setting up races with hardcore restrictions, people just don’t know how to drive in packs.

And I’d hardly call this series GRiD with a reskin… if anything, the test driver that Codemasters uses says that the cars handle even easier in real life.. as I’ve always said, with no HUD, no Resets, no Assists, Cock-pit view and 50%+ race distance, F1 20XX is one of the most immersive and hardcore sim-racers around.

 

Like any sporting game (I’m looking at you FIFA 14) we all know it’s money they want but they could be updated with “New year DLC” adding the new teams/players/cars for about 3-5 years before needing an upgrade… if you’ve made big ground on graphics or handling then make a DLC that’s a little bit pricier but don’t charge $69 for a “new” game each year that’s absurd

 
Bennett Ring

With the release of next gen consoles, even porting the series to a high-res, 60fps console version would have been appreciated by many. Not fleshing out the retro career is a true injustice – F1 2010 had something like 15 new tracks, so the 2 or 4 retro tracks is simply not acceptable. Personally I’d have loved to see the damage system get a thorough look at, as it’s always been my biggest bug bear with the series.

Incredibly, bugs from 2010 are still in 2013. I can’t use the rewind feature, as replays are stuck on high speed for some reason. Using the fix that worked in 2012 doesn’t work here, so I’m unable to finish a race unless I manage to do 30+ laps without a single bingle.

 
robbie belmont

Martin Brundle is with SkySports now ;)

 

This is the first time I’ve ever created an account in order to leave a comment.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the author for this review. Certainly, it’s saved me £50 and I appreciate the insight.

I live only a short distance from the Codemasters HQ and, being older than most people no doubt, have been a keen gamer ever since I was young and remember Codemasters from their days on the ZX Spectrum format.

However, keen as I am to support a good games company, supporting Codemasters is something I now, having read this review, no longer willing to do.

Does any one remember the two Operation Flashpoint titles on the Xbox 360 that Codemasters produced? And how completely broken they were? If so, you know where I’m coming from.

And hence started the very poor quality production and bugs that Codemasters are now known for.

I purchased F1 2012 pre-used having spent £40 on the 2011 title. I was disgusted at how many bugs the code had; I was frustrated how many races were ruined because of pit stops didn’t work or wet weather racing was buggy.

And to now hear that F1 2013 has hardly any noticeable performance increases from last years title, that the ‘Classic’ edition is again a cynical corporate “spend more money and we’ll give it to you” ploy, that audio and visuals appear entirely identical to last years release, and that bugs are STILL present, well, it’s certainly stopped me following Codemasters.

But thank you again to the author for the review – much appreciated.

 

That’s very nice of you to say so.

I’ll admit, I’m a big Codemasters fan and you’ll find many of us here are rather long in the tooth, too. I still like them as developers and buy their products and I understand that they’re doing what they can in order to keep the doors open… but they really need to swing the needle back in the gamers favour when it comes to the F1 series.

Myself and another guy on these forums were doing minimum 50% race distances in F1 2012 and we both gave up because of how many wet weather races there were in the season… completely unrealistic.

I also agree that the OF titles on Xbox were a letdown (as were they both on PC), but I still do enjoy a game of Dragon Rising no matter what the platform… something about the slow burn of that game excites me (unlike the godawful Red River which copped an absolute hiding when I reviewed it for another site).

Drop by the forums and say hi, or add me on Steam (DarkMellie). Always nice to meet older gamers :)

 

Racing game is one of my favorite, in fact this is the one that I am playing on a web flash version race games at http://www.iphysicsgames.com, it is a cool lot of fun game for me.

 
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