Yearly sports games always face criticism for not changing enough. It's hard to make massive tweaks when the sport itself doesn't change. Like FIFA and Madden before it, Codemasters' F1 series has also faced this negative commentary since they got the license in 2009. Does F1 2013 do enough to take the series forward?
F1 2013 is the latest entry in Codemasters' line of games based on the world of Formula 1. It features all of the cars, drivers and tracks from this year's series. It wouldn't be the official game if it didn't. Like last year's game, F1 2013 starts with The Young Driver Test at the Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi. This test is basically a series of challenges that gets you used to the basic mechanics of an F1 car, from simple acceleration and braking to the use of the KERS and DRS systems. Each test rewards a medal based on your performance, with the best times netting the player a gold medal, which is a step closer to driving for a team in Career mode. Earning medals in The Young Driver Test gives you offers for teams. Getting just a couple of bronze medals lets you drive the moving traffic cone known as the Marussia but getting mostly gold lets you be Kimi 'leave me alone I know what I'm doing' Raikkonen's teammate at Lotus.
The Career mode itself is a disappointment. Codemasters has seemingly focused on other areas and let this mode become more barebones than before. The Career mode no longer has the press conferences after qualifying and the races. It wasn't the most in-depth feature but it had potential to be something great, especially since a driver's relationship with the media is an important part of Formula 1 in this day and age. Also now missing is the trailer used for menus, where you would check computer for emails or look at the calendar on the wall to see what races are coming up. Now it's all one menu screen and looks much more uninspired. Career mode follows the same five year structure as it has in previous games where you race against the current driver, team and tracks from that year for five seasons with a meaningless levelling system to go with it.
If you wish, you can race as a real driver and be reigning champion Sebastian Vettel or live the dream and pretend you are Max Chilton. Progressing through the complete 2013 season is done by going into Grand Prix mode and selecting all 19 tracks and the game does the rest. The tracks themselves do look pretty good, especially with changing weather, but they do lack atmosphere since the crowds don't interact with the race in any way.
Another mode is the Proving Grounds. Here, there are challenges that give you certain scenarios in which to play, such as having you to finish the race by beating a certain driver or finish with worn tyres for example. The races are only a few laps long and can be done quickly. There are leaderboards too so you can see how your performance ranks against your friends, as well as the ubiquitous Time Attack and Time Trial modes to try out. The latter two aren't the same thing as you may think, though; Time Attack has fewer tracks and is focused on beating set lap times, whereas Time Trial is more relaxed and lets you drive on any track.