Xbox 360 Review

F1 2013

Welcome to the Dark Souls of racing games

Have you ever sat watching Formula One and thought, "hey, I could do this"? Well Codemasters is back here with F1 2013 to set your feet firmly back on the ground.

Not to say that F1 2013 is not an entertaining experience but it is more punishing than an evening locked in a Saints Row S&M dungeon.

With the F1 franchise Codemasters Birmingham has created a faithful and very enjoyable series of games that have re-invigorated the F1 franchise after a few dry entries from Sony's now-defunct Liverpool Studio. F1 2013

F1 2013 represents what will possibly be the last game on current-gen consoles and Codies have decided to throw in a whole bunch of extra content that will make Formula One fans happy.

This takes the form of classic 1980s tracks, cars and drivers for nostalgic F1 fans to indulge in allowing them to take on legendary drivers like Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell in some of the cars that made them. This includes the opportunity to race round the long-lost British Grand Prix track at Brands Hatch and the classic Spanish Grand Prix Jerez track.

Of course, this is just a diversion but is actually proves to be a simpler and easier-to-swallow introduction to the game having disposed of modern additions of Kers and DRS to provide a much morer straight forward racing experience.

The main game is an altogether different beast. Beginning with the Young Drivers Test in either a Mclaren and Red Bull or a Ferrari is the only way to jump into a Formula One career and it proves to be about as gentle as F1 2013 can be. Complete the series of challenges that the game lays out for you around the sun-drenched Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, scoring points along that way will unlock offers of a drive from the lower-placed teams to allow you to begin your rookie season in Formula One. F1 2013

At this point the only teams that can be unlocked (in ascending order) are Marussia, Caterham, Toro Rosso, Force India, Sauber, Williams and Team Lotus. Which means that the toughness your rookie season is largely dependant on how well you perform in the Young Driver Test and how ambitious you are in hoosing your team.

Do not expect an easier time by picking a more ambitious team however because teams like Lotus and Force India expect far more from their rookie drivers than Marussia and Caterham do.

Start your season and it's straight into free practice which is the only time that you'll have to get used to the ins and outs of each track before you have to score fast laps in qualifying and then in the race. Try out different setups from the Quick Setup menu as it is a must if you want to be able to get to grips with the car and the track in time to score an acceptable lap time.

Completing a season in F1 2013 is a commitment and while the race default length is 15 laps, giving enough time to incorporate one pit-stop, completing a race weekend is a long and meticulous process even with the difficulty set to its easiest. F1 2013

Sometimes it feels that the 'aids' for lower difficulty settings are a bit of a hindrance. The easiest difficulty setting is clearly designed for those that play racing games by holding down the accelerator but even arcade games require a bit of braking and the full braking assist can feel like a bit of handicap at times when you're trying to shave those valuable tenths of a second off your lap times.

The difficulty level can be full adjusted though with several levels of things like braking assist, dynamic race line, ABS and traction control all there to help you tailor your racing experience to your own ability.

Even with a carefully tailored difficulty setting though it is tough to set a lap time that is even close to the pace. The accelerator and brake must be carefully blended in cornering and this takes some time to get used to especially given that the analogue triggers on the Xbox 360 aren't particularly responsive.

In fact, F1 2013 feels very much like a game that is geared more to the enthisuasts that have invested in decent racing wheel setups rather than folks looking to pick up a controller a dish out the odd defeat to Sebastian Vettel over a beer or two.

F1 2013 is a great in-depth experience. Codemasters has painstakingly recreated every track in sumptuous detail. There's a smoothness and clarity of vision that very few racing games have in such abundance but this all comes at a price. This game is mildly impenetrable.

Formula One enthusiasts will revel in the ability to be part of the sport they love but don't pick this game up expecting an easy ride because F1 2013 with chew up and spit out anyne not prepared to work to be good at this game.

F1 2013 is out now on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.