Back to the future
761SRP: £39.99Not much has changed in the world of F1 in the last 12 months it seems; just another new season with a few seat shuffles. Sebastian Vettel is still giving everyone the finger, Mark Webber's car is still sponsored by the Acme Corporation and Kimi Raikkonen is still overtaking people in places a Kamikaze pilot would wince at. . Almost everyone has written off the current season, with the only people still on the edge of their seats each week being those wearing Pirelli polo shirts. All eyes are already looking forwards to 2014, with its rule changes and much more significant drivers changes. Which leaves this game in a bit of a bind. F1 2012 was a solid entry which delivered a pleasingly faithful reproduction of the pinnacle of motor sport. For now though Codemasters are trying to deliver a title which is more than just some database changes and give F1 fans a reason to still care about the digital recreation of the sport in 2013.
As before, we start with the young drivers test in Abu Dhabi - the game will detect if you participated in the test last year and allow you to skip the first day. It's still a great introduction for those new to the series and, in some ways, the sport. They strangely don't go through the basics of the Practice, Qualifying, Race cycle which could potentially be confusing to those without much prior knowledge, but they do go through some useful concepts such as hitting apexes, tyre wear and the KERS and DRS systems. If nothing else, it's still a bucket of ice cold water to the face of those who might think this is anything other than a straight laced racing simulator. Drifting round corners might feel cool but all you will be doing is ruining both your lap time and your tyres.
Career mode sees you start out in the lower ranks with the likes of Torro Rosso and Caterham; fighting for position at the bottom of the grid with the hopes of attracting offers from better teams until you become number one driver at the top of the championship . You still roll through the standard set up of Practice, Qualifying and Race sessions. Finally the option to save mid session has been added, making those full length grand prixs seem slightly less insane. For the more time challenged among us the game still allows you to tailor the experience to your time constraints; you can still forward through qualifying, jumping in only if you appear to be failing too far down the list, races can be quicker 5 lap versions or the eye-drying full versions if you wish.
You also have Grand Prix mode where you can jump directly in as any driver, on any track, which is good for recreating race weekends throughout the season or simply taking in your favourite track whenever you see fit. There is an extra difficulty level to select from now, and AI has been improved to offer some more realistic driver behaviour; they will make realistic mistakes and the old trick of diving down the inside and out-breaking them to claw back position isn't likely to be as successful this time round. A nice touch is the hand your driver throws in the air in frustration when he is cut up or placed at a disadvantage.
The real changes start to appear when you enter the Proving Grounds, still home to the Time Attack and Time Trial Modes, and the excellent Champions mode from last year has been expanded out into Scenarios mode which places you in unique position with hinderances to overcome and goals to acheive, such as battling a pair of Ferraris for position in a Lotus or speeding out of the pit lane after a drive through penalty and trying to claw back your position and finish ahead of a teammate. They are a welcome dash of flavour for when the clockwork of the career begins to feel like a grind and are a lot of fun to jump into for a break from shaving seconds off lap times.
Multiplayer continues to offer the competitive thrill of online racing if you can manage to find opponents who will race in the spirit of the simulation. Sadly first corner collisions and subsequent quits remain a plague, but co-op career and split-screen action mean you can still race competitively from your couch; victory always tastes sweeter in person anyway.
As beautiful as F1 2013 is - things like weather effects and rain on visors stand out as noticeable improvements over last year's crisp execution - there might still be a case for sticking with last's years version if you can deal with Lewis Hamilton in the wrong race suit. However, Codemasters are well ahead of you with Classics mode.
As you enter Classics mode a nostalgic hue takes hold as Murray Walker's distinctive voice welcomes you to the past of the sport. For your perusal Codemasters present several cars, drivers and tracks from throughout both the 1980s and the 1990s, owners of the Classic Edition will have all by default via a free download whereas the standard edition of F1 2013 only comes with the 1980s content.
The classic content isn't comprehensive; more of a "Greatest Hits" of the eras than full on recreations. As such you have to suspend your disbelief as drivers and cars of completely different seasons share the grid, but it's certainly not an issue for anyone other that truest of F1 anoraks. Stepping into the cockpit of some of these cars is a vastly different experience to the high tech evolutions from the 2013 career. You quickly have to get to grips with taming the beasts as you deal with some powerful yet unrefined machines. Elements like turbo lag and a neck breaking injection of power in the high revs, while getting used to much less reliable levels of grip without the spectacular downforce of modern set-ups. It's a lot of fun, and getting to know the character of the various cars will keep a smile permanently on the face of long time F1 fans.
Go! Go! Go!
- Classics mode is great fun
- Mid session saves
- Improved driver AI
- Scenarios mode
Box! Box! Box!
- Could still go further to help newcomers
- Could use more activities outside career
F1 2013 XBOX 360 Review
Without Classic mode F1 2013 would be hard to recommend, apart from updating the drivers sheet and some minor improvements it remains a straightforward. yet well made, reproduction of the sport. The savvy idea of tapping into the past is a brilliant move; many fans fondly remember their favourite drivers and cars, especially from eras when the sport was far less clinical. Although there are some gaping Senna-type holes in the experience, it leaves some room for further improvement next year or perhaps this year in the form of DLC. If you're not sure whether the simulation nature of an F1 game is your cup of tea, stick with the cheaper F1 2012 as you will get the same core experience. If you are a fan of F1 you likely already have 2012 but you must play this, Classics mode is as good as it sounds.
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