With multiple generations of F1 racing floating around in the zeitgeist it seems like the perfect time for Codemasters to release F1 2013 Classic Edition. As the current generation draws to a close there isn’t a lot of incentive to do much more than tinker with the engine so the core game isn’t significantly changed from F1 2012. Instead, purchasers are urged to spend a few extra bucks for the Classic Edition (there is a non-classic version) to take advantage of the historic drivers and events that are added into that package.
While the list of classic drivers is hardly comprehensive (where is Aryton???) out of the box you get around ten classic teams from Lotus, Ferrari and Williams. Each of those teams has the driver that drove for the specific year included and also the teams “legend” driver. You’ll find Michael Schumacher sharing his Ferrari with Gerhard Berger while the 1980 Williams is driven by both Alan Jones and “The Professor” Alain Prost. Also included are a few classic tracks like Brands Hatch (one of my all-time favorite names) and Circuit De Jerez are tossed into the mix.
Announcing legend Murray Walker is on hand to give voice to the tales of these classic warriors and you can choose to race in a fictional circuit that melds all these eras together or you can take part in team-specific challenges that task you with passing a teammate or racing to the front of the grid in each car. All these classic teams are also available for multiplayer racing, of course. As you might expect, these cars from a bygone era handle differently, don’t deal with KERS or DRS and in general just don’t have those modern bells and whistles.
Of course in addition to that you’ll get all the drivers and circuits for the current season so you too can recreate the battle for runner-up behind Sebastian. Almost all this content is recycled from last year’s game and with the impending change in generation and engines, Codemasters has chosen to eschew and DLC this year since it won’t be compatible going forward. You can add on the classic packs if you went with the vanilla version but otherwise what you get out of the box is what you get!
Now, I’ve mentioned in years past that I’ve been horrible at these F1 games. I genuinely think you need a nice steering wheel setup to get the most out of these games since an analog stick simply doesn’t have the resolution you need to tight cornering and other actions. When you are trying to shave hundredths of a second off your time you can’t afford sloppy controls. As a result I had trouble passing even the Young Driver’s Test and then when I got to the races themselves I was humiliated as I racked up the aggressive driving penalties. I simply couldn’t keep up if I eased off the gas at all and even with my more intimate knowledge of KERS and DRS I needed every driving assist turned on to have a chance.
What that means for those of you that know what you are doing and have the right setup is that YES this game is still challenging and it’s still the closest match to real-life racing you’ll get in any console motorsports simulation. Codemasters has honed this series to a razor-sharp point by now and you won’t find tighter controls, painstaking track and car details or team tendencies more accurately modeled. Yes it’s tough, but so is racing in real life.
Obviously your choices in F1 console racing are very limited but the truth is there isn’t a whole lot anyone could do to make another game worth developing. My only issue with this series is that the UI doesn’t have the same smoothness you get from Codemasters other series. Both Dirt and Grid have these razor-sharp interfaces that look modern and clean, but I find the F1 series to be a bit muddled on that front.
As always with these yearly iterative games the question becomes whether or not to buy it if you own a recent edition. This year is a really tough call. Again, if you have F1 2012 this is simply an updated version with a few minor tweaks and the addition of classic drivers and circuits. So the only reason to jump in is if you want access to the classic content. If you haven’t bought in for a few years then the roster update alone might make it a valuable proposition, but again, spend the extra few bucks for the classic edition. If you are just looking to dive into the dangerous world of Formula 1 racing because you’ve been drawn in by its recent surge in popularity, well not only is this the best choice its probably the only choice. Just know going in that Formula 1 racing is not for the faint of heart!