F1 2013 is the latest in Codemasters simulation racing series. Yes, you read that right – simulation racing series. Players looking for arcade racers or any type of racer they can just jump in and play can safely skip F1 2013. Players looking for an in-depth simulation of F1 racing have just found their porn.
F1 2013 recreates the F1 2013 season with all the cars, drivers and tracks. There is a painstaking attempt to get all the details correct. The cars look fantastic and are covered in company logos. Reflective plastic and paint must be the norm in F1 because every surface seems to be covered in it. Tracks look great and tires accumulate gravel when the car leaves the track. Weather effects are outstanding. The loading screens themselves all appear to be HQ photography from different points in F1’s history. The sepia filter over the 1980s F1 events is a nice touch as well. The in-game personnel don’t look spectacular, however, the cars are the focus of this simulator.
The music is forgettable yet the sounds are amazing. The vehicles really do sound different, like Marussia’s whiny engines as opposed to Infiniti Red Bull machine’s deeper purr. The Audio options are a little deeper than other games, differentiating between sound effects and vehicle noise while also controlling engineer speech and verbosity. Sound effects, like the graphics, try to replicate reality and succeed immensely.
F1 2013 is incredibly precise, and success is something a player must learn over time. The first race bordered on unplayable. After going through the training again (the last test still remains incomplete), Season Challenge mode, a few time attack races and some career, there was visible improvement… to the tune of about .3 seconds less suck over previous times. Players unfamiliar with the series will see minuscule improvement over previous attempts. F1 2013 is not just a simulator – it is a full-time job. It is this type of realism Codemasters strives to achieve, and it is this type of realism F1 2013 proudly displays. There is nothing close to an arcade mode here even on the easiest settings. This game is for F1 enthusiasts only, and even then it is for F1 fans seeking as much precision as possible. Yes, even on the easiest of easiest settings.
In the meantime, F1 2013 is littered with modes: Grand Prix, Career, Time Trial, Time Attack, and Scenario modes. Career contains the Young Driver Test and Season Challenge. Young Driver Test is as close to training as F1 2013 offers. Classic mode has all of the above except Career and its associated modes. There’s also online play, and players can sign up to Codemaster’s internal service to unlock extra cars and keep track of stats.
Putting how F1 2013 plays into words is a challenge. Precision is a huge part of the simulation. Turns have to be taken at the precise angle, and on the easiest setting a racing line is present to show players how to do so. Even with this line, knowing when to accelerate and brake (even with full brake assist), and knowing you cannot brake on a curve come into play. Add in varying road conditions, types of tires, how much downforce the vehicle currently has, and if the driver is not a complete waste of controller-holding flesh. The system the simulation is based on becomes a something the player can feel and see as F1 2013 is experienced, but the ability to correctly navigate a path through everything takes much longer to accomplish. Admittedly this will change depending on the abilities of the person behind the controller, but once again it must be stressed this is not going to be a pick up and play experience for those not used to the series.
Thankfully, F1 2013 does allow for saving in the middle of a race. Depending on the mode, couch bound racers may be expected to complete as little as 5 laps up to 52 or more. At 1.45 minutes per lap, that can add up to a chunk of time. It is also a nice touch that F1 2013 stays within its realistic confines and describes racing realistically instead of a way that is directly applicable to a controller. Players are told to be gentle and ease into the turns and curves, which implies slowly adjusting the analog stick to make turns. However, even if a beginner tells F1 2013 they are the amateur of amateurs, the simulation does not adjust accordingly. It’s neat the game treats everyone as knowledgeable about racing, but a bit more “racing for dummies” would have also been a nice touch for those of us with thicker skulls.
F1 2013 autosaves a lot after making changes in the options or finishing a race. Autosaving takes on average 15 seconds per save. This will be unbearable during training since the test runs tend to be over quick, but becomes a lot better during actual races. Just hang in there and the interference will pass soon and less frequently.
The reference to F1 2013 as a simulator throughout this article because that’s what it plays like. It’s very precise and in-depth, and makes, from an outsider’s perspective, for a very good immersion into the world of F1. F1 2013 has a variety of modes players can try out, but please be wary of the amount of time it will take to get used to driving in the game and ultimately, winning races. Some people may play F1 2013 for months and finally get it to click. F1 2013 is definitely targeted at F1 fans who want precision racing. Everyone else, even players who like racing games, are just not the audience.
Myself included. As a gamer, F1 2013 has been the most joyless media to ever be placed in my PS3 console. Not once did I have fun. Take that as a reference to how narrow the title’s intended demographic is as opposed to genuine criticism. Not a F1 fan with precision and patience? Skip this game. The inverse is also true. Having said the above, it would be foolish to dismiss the superb presentation, precision found only through the constant refining of a product over time, and the plethora of modes meant to immerse a player into the F1 racing culture.