Ron Howard's newest film, Rush, captures the intensity of Formula One racing and the heated competition between rivals. With this in mind, fans hoping to get a taste of the experience can play Codemasters' F1 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. This fast-paced racer lacks the movie's star power, but makes up for that with high-speed Formula One cars packing 18,000rpm, an electrically powered boost button that delivers an extra 80bhp on demand and plenty of aerodynamic downforce. It's perfectly all right if you don't understand the jargon. Simply keep your thumb on the gas and enjoy the ride.
One of the game's best features is the inclusion of five 1980s-era vehicles, complete with fat slick tyres and monstrous turbochargers. They are a wonderful addition to a series that in the past featured incremental updates and ran the risk of being stale. These cars beg to be hustled and danced around corners - something that translates beautifully through a controller. It's all about taming vast amounts of unrefined power, either with delicate use of your right toe or liberal application of opposite steering lock. Watching these nostalgic cars clatter over kerbs and shudder at the limit of adhesion never ceases to impress. Particularly entertaining are the turbocharged Lotus and Ferrari entries from the 1988 season, which deliver the bulk of their horsepower in a single, exhilarating hoof to the spine at roughly 11,000rpm.
To help capture the spirit of the 80s, the developers included a cool Instagram-esque filter that brings to mind those hazy yellow, imagined summers. Players who grew up in the 90s will probably see little point to it, but longtime fans will thoroughly enjoy the retro-style presentation.
Speaking of the 90's generation, F1 2013 also includes vehicles from that respective era - if you preordered the Classic Edition before release. This bonus content, which will be available as DLC down the line, adds six cars from the 90s and two more circuits, and driving cars from either era is undoubtedly the highlight of this year's game. Cars from each season handle differently, ranging from the sheet metal bathtub in which Alan Jones won the 1980 world championship to Nigel Mansell's guided missile from 1992 - a car that justifies splurging for the full-fat Classic Edition. To sweeten the deal, the 90s gets its own cooler, bluish treatment to reflect the change in broadcast technology.
Winners And Losers
On the downside, the game lacks content and will feel familiar to players who mastered the 2012 edition. Only three teams made the cut (Ferrari, Lotus and Williams), resulting in smaller grids populated with cars from multiple seasons and no option to run any kind of championship. 1988's the only season where all three teams field equivalent cars, and even then, the absence of McLaren means the car that dominated that year's championship is notably absent. Even with the 90s DLC and multiplayer taken into consideration, Classics Mode feels like a novelty bonus.
As a result, almost every upgrade feels incremental, with the biggest addition the option to save in the middle of a race if you want to run the full distance without sacrificing an entire evening.
Conversely, features like localised weather, a full co-operative championship and the option to enlist AI cars to help fill out the grid in a half-full multiplayer game round out the package. Not to mention the fact that there are 21 separate circuits to serve as arenas for single and multiplayer competition. Classics Mode is the only meaningful addition and the F1 faithful may not see a reason to upgrade, but by and large, F1 2013 edition offers plenty of exciting moments to justify a purchase, even if it means spending more for the 90s content.
GAME's Verdict: 8/10
- 80s and 90s vehicles, complete with broadcast tweaks.
- Outstanding controls.
- No shortage of high-speed thrills.
- 90's nostalgia costs extra.
- Incremental upgrades over the 2012 version.
- No sign of McLaren.