- Street Date:
- November 29th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Michael S. Palmer
- Review Date:1
- November 12th, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Codemasters Birmingham
- ESRB Rating:
- E (Everyone)
The version reviewed is the downloadable PSN version. A physical release for North America is set for the end of November.
Not ready to let the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season go? Good, because now instead of cheering on your favorite teams in your favorite cars as they blaze around your favorite circuits, it's your turn to jump into the driver's seat. Welcome to 'F1 2013', Codemasters Birmingham latest and perhaps greatest Formula One racing simulator to date. The game is out on PSN, Xbox Live, and Steam, and will soon release disc versions for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC/DVD. PSN and Steam also have the option to download the 'Classic Edition' (more on that in Bonus Content) for a $15 premium. On PSN, that's $74.99. On Xbox Live, the Standard Edition is $49.99 plus $9.99 for 'Classics Content' and additional $9.99 for 'Classics Tracks'.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Today, we are reviewing the Standard Edition of the PSN Download, played on a fat PS3. The 7253MB file was initially estimated to take 92 minutes to download, but with my 11Mbps ATT U-verse broadband connection, took several hours. Installation added another 10-15 minutes.
Once installed, the game immediately launches the Young Drivers Test, where you learn acceleration, cornering, how to use the KERS (turbo boost ish) and DRS (a sometime-adjustable wing) systems. Not only is the YDT training for the entire game, but it's also the first step along the behemoth that is Career Mode. You literally get to compete in an entire season with all the practice and testing and 15-lap minimum races. This is my first time with the 'F1' series, so I found Career Mode both intimidating and impressive. For fans and those who own previous series entries, it seems as though Career Mode is a bit disappointing because it repeats too many elements from the 2012 season.
After quitting out of Career Mode the first time -- even if you're like, ahem, someone that's totally not me, and failed the Young Drivers Test on the easiest mode possible -- gamers will see the Main Menu. There they have access to various modes: F1 Classic, Grand Prix, Career, Multiplayer, Proving Ground, and My F1 (settings).
F1 Classics is the talk of this F1 release. Its sub-menu is similar to the Main Menu, and includes its own versions of Grand Prix (with five 1980-1988 cars, ten "iconic" drivers, and two 1980s circuits -- Spain's Jerez and Britain's Brand Hatch), Time Trial, Time Attack, and a Scenario Mode with three types of challenges. Formula 1 fans will definitely get a kick out of racing classic cars and teams on classic tracks. Seriously, even amongst F1 newbies, who hasn't wanted to be Mario Andretti behind the wheel of a Ferrari? Classics even looks nostalgic with its sepia toned worlds, but if you don't like that part, feel free to adjust the picture controls. There's also a lot of fun to be had comparing the handling characteristics of ultra-modern super machines versus the best of a different era.
Grand Prix Mode, which was last seen in 2011, is back and allows players to instantly race between all eleven 2013 F1 teams (two drivers on each), and the nineteen worldwide circuits, including Australia, Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Spain, Monaco, Canada, Britain, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Korea, Japan, India, Abu Dhabi, USA, and Brazil. The possibilities seem endless in GP mode. Thus far I've only done single races of varying lengths, but you can also set up a full season or custom championship series.
Multiplayer Mode has three iterations: online, split-screen, and LAN. Players have the option to race everything from Grand Prix/Career Mode as well as F1 Classics cars and circuits. It's pretty easy to get online, and I had a buddy come over to check out the horizontally split screen. Like GP Mode, you can customize the length of individual races, where you want to races, and things like weather and how easily your cars will get damaged. [Note: Beer does NOT improve the 'F1 2013' learning curve.]
Proving Ground mode has three more options: Scenario, Time Attack, and Time Trial. Time Attack was really interesting, allowing you to practice against ghost cars of your best times on six tracks. Time Trial needs to be connected to PSN, where you compete globally for top times, and features all 11 teams and 19 tracks. Finally, Scenario Mode is a more story based version of Career Mode. Rather than one season, you play 20 challenges meant to capture the essence of an F1 Driver's entire career, from Rookie to a Teammate Battle to a Championship Title, to a Final Year. I've still got a ways to go, but this mode was probably my favorite.
Playing 'F1 2013' for the first time was a frustrating experience. As a crap gamer, I'm pretty much relegated to driving games because I'm pretty awful at stuff like first person shooters... And then I tried 'F1 2013'. Oops. Turns out I can suck at any game when it's a demanding, precise experience. 'F1 2013' sets out to recreate the talent, training, and time it takes to drive one of the most incredible machines mankind has ever birthed. If you want to excel here -- if you want to shave milliseconds off your times, corner correctly, get ahead in the pack, and earn trophies and new contracts -- it's going to take loads of effort. The great news, despite my failings, is that the more time you put into 'F1 2013', the more rewarding it feels. Remember studying your ass off for a difficult class, or rewriting that term paper for the 10th time... and actually getting a good grade. It's kind of like that. Or, it will probably be for those of you with hand-eye-controller coordination and patience. I don't have those things, but what victories I did achieve I cherished... before audibly cursing my limitations during the next challenge.
My one gripe -- though I'm not sure I'm qualified to launch such a protest (and believe me, this is a super small issue that speaks more to my lack o' skillz than anything else) -- is simply about the sensitive controls. I understand the need for precision and to represent the F1 world as realistically as possible. Simulations must strive for that, I know. But sometimes I feel like car-game designers forget that, while their digital cars can act real world, we drivers don't have the true visual and physical feedback of actually driving. When I tear my Mustang into a hot corner on the winding roads of Mulholland Drive, or accelerate too quickly on a rainy morning, or fishtail in falling snow, I can feel what my car can/wants/will do. I can feel the wheel in my hands. The g-forces pushing back. And though I'm certainly no racer in real life, I know how to drive. Holding a controller to drive a "car", even in the best games, is an alien experience. For example, the last thing I did in 'F1 2013' was simply try to practice NOT turning the wheel all the way left or right, which is possible, but takes the lightest of applied pressures. These overt delicacies are why I, personally, and more of an arcade style racer, where the controls are less sensitive and the world's more forgiving. In those game, there feels like there's a bit of give, to allow for the handicap of not being able to feel the car you're "driving."
At the end of the day, F1 2013 is a precision simulation built for Formula 1 fans who want to play, practice, and perfect. It wasn't for me, but hats off to the Codemasters team for their dedication and craftsmanship.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Many reviewers seem pleased with the HD graphics displayed in 'F1 2013'. And, yes, they're not terrible... unless you're like me and can't help but judge all car racing games / simulators off the Pixar-esc rendering engines that make 'Grand Turismo 5' look ever-so-close to photo realistic. Next to that benchmark, and knowing what the PS3 is capable of outputting, 'F1 2013' looks pretty good, but not great. The visual highlight is definitely the cars themselves, which have a real-ish 3D metallic sheen, and do a great job of reflecting their environments. Rain effects also displayed appreciable detail. Unlike some driving games, the physical environments (the circuits and the surrounding landscapes) seemed rather simple, and pre-race human characters (your team) were pretty low poly, but decent enough.
'F1 2013' really suffers when it comes to digital blemishes such as aliasing and banding. If this were a Blu-ray movie, I'd assume there were some digital enhancements to uprez this game to HD. If you are a visual purist and know your display can really handle contrast, and show extreme detail without any (for lack of a better term) "edge enhancement", you will be sorely disappointed with this game environment. Please remember that I'm coming mainly from a movie background where perfection is much more possible and expected.
Most gamers will be pleased with 'F1 2013'.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
While I found the HD renderings, at times, troubling and bland, 'F1 2013' sounds terrific in a full 7.1 surround sound system. My fat-generation PS3 decoded the game's Dolby Digital Live track to 5.1 PCM, which was then converted to 7.1 via my receiver's Dolby ProLogic IIx.
'F1 2013' boasts an articulated and immersive sound field with superb surround matrixing. Engines whine as you accelerate, "tyres" chirp as they lose traction, your competition swarms around you in a full 360 degrees. When you're on the track alone, practicing and testing, the game can seem a little quiet. 'F1 2013' really shines in a multi-car competitions, when each racer on the track is specifically placed in front, next to, or behind you. It's wonderfully realistic and adrenaline boosting. The sound even adapts to various camera angles; sitting inside the car might be the most immersive. Dialog, from game instructions to team radio transmissions, is clear and well placed. Another nice feature is the customizable sound mix, where you can balance various elements such as car and environment sound effects with music levels. I left mine as is.
The only issues for me was a lack of real LFE grunt and some of the sound effects seemed a little compressed or tinny. Essentially, revving engines were noticeably thinner than their real world counterparts, and most of the cars sounded the same to my ear. This is to be expected, to a degree, we're not dealing with the more guttural and low-end American V-8 engines of muscle cars featured in many games; there, I think, bass response can mask an otherwise weaker recording.
Nitpicks aside, when you're in the middle of an 'F1 2013' race, hitting that long straightaway, launching your car up to full speed in the middle of a pack with KERS and DRS, my living room erupted into a maelstrom a screaming engines. My competition. Hunting me. Chasing me. Pushing me onwards, faster, faster.
I've only had the game for a few days at this point, so I'm not quite sure how often I'll return to this season, but this is an extremely flexible racing simulator. Thanks to Classic, Career, Grand Prix, Proving Ground/Scenario, and Multiplayer (split-screen AND online) Modes with numerous difficulty settings, you can really come back to 'F1 2013' in dozens of different iterations. Race yourself as a ghost car, pick your track and teams, control the weather, set up your car, build a custom season, literally battle in global marketplace, and compete in the epic long haul of a full season. It really seems endless.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There is no Bonus Materials for the Standard Edition of 'F1 2013'.
However, via Steam, PSN and Xbox Live, you can opt to purchase 'F1 2013 Classic Edition', which costs about $15-20 more than the Standard Edition and includes everything listed above plus an expanded F1 Classics Mode that adds seven more "iconic" drivers, five more "legendary" cars, and two more classic circuits (Imola and Estoril) from the 1990s.
'F1 2013' might not have been my cup of tea -- turns out I'm more of an arcade racer than a simulation guy -- but it's a well made game that allows Formula 1 fans to become their favorite drivers, join their favorite teams, and best their favorite circuits of today and even a few classics of yesteryear. In terms of HD picture, the game is laps behind 'Gran Turismo 5' (and most likely 'GT6'). But, the surround sound audio is outstanding and immersive. Replay factor is through the roof, given the sheer number of online and offline modes, but unless you spring for the PC Classic Edition steam download, there is not bonus content.
Overall, 'F1 2013' is an easy recommendation for previous 'F1' gamers (especially those who haven't purchased the last couple series entries) and those who have the patience to seek driving simulation perfection. For the rest of us, I'll see you in 'Need for Speed: Rivals'.
- Standard Edition
- Dolby Digital LIVE
All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More
about our gear.
Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.