We knew it was coming, but today marks the official unveiling of F1 2013, Codemasters' fourth entry in the annual F1 game series in what is starting to become the Fifa of racing games where annual instalments equate to incremental updates.
Indeed, all the usual rules and regulations updates are in place, as are the graphicical and physics refinements we've come to expect. What sets F1 2013 apart, however, is the inclusion of a long-requested feature: Classic Mode. And, on pure fan service, it's looking rather special indeed.
For added authenticity, the historical races will be introduced by none other than legendary motorsports commentator Murray Walker, the colour palette will be diluted to reflect the retro vibe and the HUD will replicate the BBC TV graphics of the time. Unsurprisingly, you won't be able to to race the classic cars against the 2013 cars (after all, we all know they would effortlessly blitz their modern-day counterparts), but you will be able to drive the modern cars on the classic circuits.
Two editions of F1 2013 will be available at launch to spread the classic content. While the standard edition will only contain content from the 1980's era, a separate limited 'Classic Edition' will add additional cars, drivers and tracks from the 1990's, which will also be available as post-release DLC.
Here's a breakdown of the classic content between the two versions:
1980s Content includes:
- Legendary drivers including Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Gerhard Berger and others
- Five iconic cars Ferrari, Williams & Lotus
- Circuit De Jerez – former host of the Spanish GRAND PRIX™
- Brands Hatch – legendary former home of the British GRAND PRIX
F1 Classics: 1990s Pack Content includes:
- Six Iconic cars from Ferrari & Williams
- A host of famous drivers including David Coulthard, Eddie Irvine, Alain Prost, Jacques Villeneuve and othersClassic
Tracks Pack includes:
- Imola – Former host of the San Marino GRAND PRIX
- Estoril – Past home of the Portuguese GRAND PRIX
Visually, even at this early stage F1 2013 looks as if it's pushing the limits of the current consoles as you can see in the official gameplay videos narrated by ex-F1 driver Anthony Davidson we've embeded throughout this article, and we can also expect to see further refinements made to the physics, which was one of the most notable improvements found in F1 2012 along with more realistic, reactive AI.
Furthermore, fans will be relieved to learn that the Grand Prix mode has been re-implemented after being conspicuously absent in F1 2012, allowing players to compete in a full custom season in the car of their choice without having to delve into the career. And if you do intend to experience the full career mode but can't commit to the demands of a grueling 180 minute race, a new mid-season save feature enables you to take a breather and resume your progress in an extended race weekend.
The Young Driver Test, first featured in F1 2012, also makes a return, and will reportedly be expanded in F1 2013. Based on the real life test where young drivers must prove themselves at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina to earn a drive in Formula One, novice drivers will be eased in with a series of tutotrials and explanatory videos before being faced with a series of increasingly demanding challenges to learn advanced driving techniques.
As with every recent racing game developed by Codemasters, F1 2013 will fully support RaceNet, the central hub that allows players to stay connected, compare stats and participate in daily in-game and community-wide challenges.
All-in-all, F1 2012 is shaping up to be the complete package for formula one fanatics. Codemasters seem to have addressed fan feedback by reinstating long-lost features such as Grand Prix whilst adding some practical new features, and the long-requested vintage content will offer fantastic fan service to those who have continually requested it over the years – even if you do have to pay extra for the privilidge of accessing the complete classic suite, which rekindles the age-old debate about limited editions, post-release dlc and preorder bonuses. Then again, you have to factor in the astronomical cost of securing those licenses, so it's not entirely unjustified. Let's just hope F1 2013 doesn't require as many pit stop fixes on release this time round – to date F1 2012 has had 12 patches on PC.
F1 2013 is scheduled for release this Autumn on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. You'll note the lack of release on next-gen consoles – a deliberate tactic on Codemasters' part according to in an interview with IGN whereby Codemasters' Stephen Hood explains his disdain for developers rushing relases for next-gen whilst stating that F1 2014 landing on next-gen platforms is a possibility.
Join in the discussion in our F1 2013 forum thread.