F1 2013 Review

By Keith Gray, 5 years ago
F1 2013 continues Codemasters’ long-running, award-winning overhaul of Formula One racing simulation on consoles. After making major changes in F1 2012 and creating a game that we considered a great success, it is now time to see just how the newest iteration in the franchise shapes up. Buckle up and settle in for another official TA review.


The fresh, bright menus return in F1 2013 making each section of the game incredibly easy to find and navigate. The main Career modes are offered with additional single-player activities also featured in the Proving Grounds section. The online and multiplayer portions of the title are also clearly defined. The stand-out point that should be noted about the menu structure is the fact that the all-new F1 Classics content is almost treated as a mini-game within F1 2013 as a result of having its very own section in the main menus.

Every good Formula One driver has to start somewhere, and there is no better place to get the wheels rolling in F1 2013 than to take part in the Young Driver Test. The series of tests serve as a tutorial again this year, after being introduced for the first time in F1 2012. Abu Dhabi’s beautiful Yas Marinas circuit plays host to two days of evaluation with any of the sport’s eleven teams. The trials start out very simple on Day 1, but Day 2 of the Young Driver Test poses a little more of challenge compared to its counterpart in F1 2012. In particular, the final two challenges require smooth driving and reward accurate cornering and consistent lap times. There is much more of an incentive to complete the full Young Driver Test in F1 2013 as success in the individual tests ultimately ensures that more teams are available at the outset of the full Career mode.

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As would be expected, Career mode is the lynchpin of F1 2013. Drivers are pitched in a fully-licensed Career that replicates year upon year of the 19-race season of the 2013 Formula One World Championships. All of the tools available to real-life drivers, including KERS and DRS, are imitated to make for a realistic experience. The goal is to become World Driver’s Champion by gaining contract offers from the bigger teams and then taking the opportunities that arise to beat rival drivers to the coveted title.

Season Challenge is a shorter, half-season alternative to the full Career mode which brings with it many of the trademarks of the latter. However, the ten races are already predefined and the race length is set at five laps with no options for variation in either department. In the long run, the rigidity of the structure within Season Challenge and the (relative) ease with which it can be completed, even on the Hard difficulty setting, means that this mode gets old far too quickly.

Every year since revamping the F1 franchise in 2010, Codemasters has continually developed new features in the single-player section of each game. F1 2013 takes a step backwards, not that that’s a bad thing. As the cornerstone of the marketing campaign this year, F1 Classics brings the nostalgia and glory of racing action inspired by teams, drivers, and tracks from the 1980’s and 1990’s (with the latter period’s content available in the Classic Edition, or as premium DLC), which will be particularly enjoyed by F1 enthusiasts. Rather than just being extra content added in as an afterthought, the Classics section of F1 2013 has been well-planned, and as a result boasts its own equivalents to the game modes based on the 2013 season. In particular, Classic Time Attack and Classic Scenario Mode help to tie the unique content into the overall game. The voice-overs from the legendary commentator Murray Walker, along with the sepia colour tints give the new features a distinct, old-school feel. The addition of the Classic cars, tracks, drivers brings F1 2013 in line with the likes of the Forza franchise that has long since included cars and tracks from previous decades.

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This year, Scenario Mode replaces Champions Mode from F1 2012. There are both similarities and differences between Scenario Mode and its predecessor. Firstly, much like Champions Mode, Scenario Mode pitches you into short, intense battles to achieve specific finishing positions or targets to gain bronze, silver, or gold medals depending on the difficulty setting you choose. As opposed to simply matching up against former F1 champions like last year, Scenario Mode actually offers more variety across more individual challenges that include back-of-the-pack battles right through to championship deciders.

As an alternative to Scenario Mode, Time Attack returns in F1 2013. Instead of battling with opposing drivers, it is a case of you against the clock on each one of seven specific circuits from around the globe. Where Scenario Mode puts the onus on clean overtaking manoeuvres, the Time Attack mode requires practice to learn the ideal racing lines and get the most from a powerful F1 car.

Time Trial mode can be used to master any of the circuits that are featured in the 2013 Formula One World Championship calendar. In addition, the aforementioned classic locations can also be accessed in the Time Trial mode.

All in all, the Proving Grounds section of F1 2013 offers a good mix of options and challenges to test even F1 veterans, whilst simultaneously keeping newcomers interested with adjustable difficulty settings.

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All of the developments and enhancements that have been made in the single-player aspects of the game are not echoed in the online and multi-player modes again this year. Disappointingly, the same old sprint, endurance, and custom races re-appear with very little invention shown to make this area of the game more appealing.

The one saving grace for the online segment of F1 2013 is the return of the Co-op Championship, as it allows friends to become rival teammates in a team of their choice. This is an enjoyable experience as it takes the intense racing battles to another dimension by tasking each human driver to work both with and against their teammate to defeat the rest of the teams and drivers on the grid. The difficulty and race distance settings in the Co-op Championship are fully-customisable, allowing the inter-team battles to be as short-lived or as lengthy as desired.

Codemasters continue to bring an ultra-realistic visual experience in the latest iteration of their franchise, with all twenty of the F1 calendar’s venues recreated in stunning detail. As mentioned earlier, the Classic content also has its own unique appearance. Despite the fantastic visuals, F1 2013 seems to hit reverse gear in terms of in-game sound with the engines sounding a little grating particularly in the low gears. The car handling does recover the situation though, with the cars in F1 2013 feeling much more stable compared to their obvious twitchiness in recent, previous iterations. It must also be noted that the classic cars do not feel exactly like their modern counterparts. They handle differently, as you would expect with some thirty years’ worth of development time between them. The 1980’s cars have an arcade-like racing feel to their handling attributes.

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In similar fashion to the online versus modes, the achievement list for F1 2013 is simply a re-hash of the same items that have featured previously. There are simple progression achievements for most game modes, with the emphasis on beating Time Attack and Scenario Mode on the hardest settings. Thankfully, the number of online achievements are limited to just completing versus races, with the Co-op Championship races counting towards these two achievements. The Co-op Championship mode also has its own separate pops. To be frank, it appears that the achievement list has been treated with the same contempt as some parts of the online sector of the game.

In conclusion, the return of an accurately recreated and solid Career mode is well supported by other extensive single-player modes to test all of skills that are required to be a successful Formula One driver. Furthermore, the inclusion of F1 Classics content adds yet another element to the proceedings which is sure to delight long-term fans of the series. However, the enhancements in those areas cannot hide the shortcomings in Season Challenge and some portions of the online features which have seriously lacked any development in recent iterations. There is no denying that F1 2013 is a great racing title. Unfortunately, the absence of any changes in problem areas that were identified in F1 2012 means that the latest iteration cannot garner full marks, but it is very close.

The reviewer played all game modes, including winning in Season Challenge on the hardest difficulty and completing a full season in the Co-op Championship mode. Clocking up a total of over 20 hours of gameplay also involved using the all-new F1 Classics content. All of the racing action garnered 20 out of 45 achievements. The review copy was provided by Codemasters.
Keith Gray
Written by Keith Gray
Keith has been contributing to the news on the TrueGaming Network since 2010. He's the resident fan of racing games. Outside of gaming, Keith is a qualified accountant so numbers really speak to him! Other hobbies include swimming and wheelchair basketball.