Codemasters are now on the fourth major iteration of their revitalised Formula One franchise (excluding F1 2009) and in recent years, it has been growing from strength to strength. With F1 2013, the British developer are looking to take things to the next level yet again, offering new content and an updated roster and even the return of Murray Walker.
As has become customary with previous games, as soon as you start up the game you'll take part in a tutorial of sorts. This will help you to get used to the game again following last year's installment or introduce you to the nature of F1 games.
The Young Driver's test is also important for helping select your starting team in some of the game's different career modes. As you go through, you will be judged on your performance in terms of both time and efficiency and if you don't do that well, only the weaker teams will offer you contracts.
It's at this point that things start to get a little bit too familiar. Both the "Season Challenge" and "Career" offer nothing that's out of the ordinary from previous experiences. In Season Challenge you take on a contract that you're offered, challenge a rival and if you beat them enough times you'll replace them in their team.
When it comes to the "Career" option, everything is pretty much the same, it's just elongated a bit more. What's disappointing is that this hasn't changed a great deal for quite a while now. You have the same email system, where teams will give you the same boring information. And when you get to races, it's the same thing all over again "“ even to the point where the presentation hasn't changed that much.
Yes, it's possible to appreciate that with most sports games, things don't change in relation to the actual sport that much. Quite a lot of the time the focus is on updated rosters and better technical achievements. However, there also needs to be a focus on engaging the user too in other ways, otherwise you're just purchasing a glorified expansion pack.
Codemasters did try to address this with the "Classic Edition" that's featured, but that's not the core of the game, it's an extra feature. Still, it is quite cool to get behind the wheel of classic cars and it's always good to relive some of the famous duels from yesteryear. The fact that Murray Walker introduces this part of the game also helps to add to the nostalgia factor, so credit where credit is due.
While it's not possible to take part in any kind of career as part of the whole "F1 Classic" section, there are some challenges to take part in. They have also rendered four tracks which are no longer part of the F1 race calendar.
Challenges are also available with the current roster too, in the form of "Scenario Mode". Here, there are 4 different types of challenge, each with a list of objectives you need to complete.
When it comes to gameplay, F1 2013 does build upon its predecessor. The revised physics are clear to see and if anything, it makes the game even more challenging. It's not so much the AI that you have to be concerned about any more when it comes to victory, it's your own driving abilities. It's ironic, because the disparity in the different AI difficulty levels is quite glaring. You can go comfortably beating them, to struggling to even keep up - there isn't a setting that quite hits the sweet spot.
Pushing it to the maximum now feels like a genuine risk, as it's much easier to end up in the gravel trap and it adds to the challenge of being a top driver throughout the career mode. This handling changes with the Classic mode too, which is an appreciated touch as it would be a bit odd if they handled the same way as the 2013 cars.
When it comes to the other elements of presentation, F1 2013 has also seen improvements. There are some graphical changes and the tracks now look a lot better. This is reflected in the accuracy of the different courses, but also with the scenery too. Sure, you're often driving past at a few hundred mph, but when there are slower sections it's nice to see that the side lines are properly represented.
At its core, F1 2013 is quite a familiar experience. Many of the standard modes have returned and although there's a new "Classic" mode, not much about what's in the package has changed a great deal. There are improvements to the gameplay and presentation, but these are the kind of improvements that are expected with a yearly sports release. To keep people coming back, Codemasters will need to make some more fundamental changes to the experience.
|It pays homage to Murray Walker.|
|Improved gameplay makes the game more challenging.|
|Classic Edition is a nice touch, especially if you were around when those drivers were popular.|
|Not much has changed about the core experience.|
|Career mode looks and plays pretty much the same as the previous year.|
|AI isn't that consistent.|