After having clocked up a fair old number of hours, I think that I've reached the point that I can write a reasonable and considered review, but before launching into it, I'd like to make the point that I've never played F1 2012. As such, I can't make a comparison, and a feeling that has been concurrent amongst many previous reviews, that it's not worth the purchase if you have the last iteration, is one that I can't make a comment on. Now onto the review.
First of all, I've enjoyed pretty much every single of the 370 hours (at the time of writing) that I've played. That's quite an achievement - even the ultimate in open world RPGs, Skyrim, has only got 280 hours on my account. And that's across three playthroughs. There are negatives - of course there are, what game doesn't have them? But they are on the whole overshadowed by the numerous pros.Singleplayer
I got my wheel at the same time as the game, and it took me quite some time to readjust. Thus, Singleplayer played a large part in my experience of the game - and it's pretty good. The Career, I'll be honest, is uninspiring - just five seasons around the same 19 tracks against all the same drivers in all the same cars - but when you consider that this is an F1 game, that's not surprising. I'm still only up to Spa in Season 1 - that's Race 11, I believe, after having some difficulty with Corrupt Save Files, and I'm not really eating up the miles in the same way as I used to.
Admittedly, to begin with, it's addictive - intoxicating, to an extent. Especially with a wheel, it's a very engaging game, and once you begin fiddling with the strategy, and the setups, even with a very average AI, it's great. I managed to clock the equivalent of a full 100% season before I started tiring of it.
And then after that, Codemasters have done a very decent job of fleshing it out with some excellent stand-alone features. There's the stock standard Time Trial, and Time Attack (For which you are awarded medals based on how fast you go), in addition to the Scenario Mode feature, which is good fun - placing you in a range of - you guessed it - scenarios, and then assigning you a score based on your performance. Throughout all this are the leaderboards, which is a nice touch, especially when competing with friends (I'm in a battle around Brands Hatch currently), and the only slightly saddening touch is that there are some people out there who aren't racing honestly, and ruining the very top of the leaderboard.
All in all, the singleplayer section is initially exciting, but this fades with time. Nevertheless, it was worth the £8 I payed on Amazon all by itself.Multiplayer
The Multiplayer aspect of the game is the one that I now live for, and play pretty much exclusively. It's also very contrevsial.
I suppose I should probably start by adressing the really major problem, and that is the strength and consistency of the connections. I race in a competetive league (link at the bottom), yet each race, of the 12-16 player grid, around 2-6 players lose connection - even those with a strong internet service. This is irritating, but it doesn't happen all that often, and it's easy enough to work around on a small scale.
Now onto the praise. It's great. I mean really great. True, in terms of variety, it's not fantastic. You can only do races. But again, that's what F1 is about - racing. So no complaints there. But if you can find friends who play - or better, make friends out of like minded players - and you have some way of communicating with them during the race (e.g. Teamspeak, Evolve or Skype), then it's fantasic, more so if you're equally matched, because you can really relate. I won't delve into all the good things about multiplayer gaming, but it's a wonderful escape from reality.
Quite possibly the best thing about the Multiplayer is the number of Racing Leagues out there. While the quick race lobbies are usually scarcely populated, and frequented by intentionally dangerous drivers, the community aspect of a small league is very attractive, and it means that you can race regularly against player of a similar ability to you in an attempt to improve. Again, I won't wax eloquent about the merits of Race Leagues - but they are fantastic fun.Classics
I'll be honest, the Classics section does feel like somewhat of an afterthought. There are a small selection of cars, with a slightly less small collection of Legendary drivers, which you can race as, but it's definitely not a game in it's own right - there is no career, the addition tracks are beautifully done but there are only four of them (two without the DLC), and though the cars look and sound gorgeous, the small selection and obvious performance gap means that it's hard to have a really decent race. A novelty, but a nice one, and it serves to refresh your enthusiasm for the game occasionally by doing away with the repetition that is running round a track like China 50-odd times.As a Sim
If you're looking for a Sim, then sorry, you're in completly the wrong place. Though harsh, F1 2013 falls probably half way between Grid 2 (Ultra Arcade) and Race 07 (Total Sim). The tyre wear feels scripted. There are limited setup options, and most of them don't really make a difference to the way the car feels, or drives. Even without any assists, with a soft suspension you can absolutely floor the throttle mid way through a corner, and be on your way without any drama, even around a low grip circuit like Hungaroring. It's not a sim. It doesn't feel even remotely feel like one, and if a Sim is what you want, then go buy Assetto Corsa or Race 07. That said, it's good for a casual gamer looking for an experience that's more Simmy than normal.The AI
One of my few major complaints about the game, the AI are average at best, and for a premium title that suggests an Intel i7 is the way to go, average disappoints me. They're overly aggressive, and yet they struggle to overtake. They are also poor at defending - you can dive it up the inside of pretty much any corner in the calender, and they'll leave you room. On the lower difficulty levels, they're little more than fodder, though admittedly, it takes some time to get up to speed.
Similarly to F1, overtaking isn't a massive aspect. It's more about flawless consistency and excellent pace - and in those category, the AI shine. There are few enough races that I notice the AI in gravel traps or barriers (Monaco being the one exception), and even after 370 hours, in the Sauber, I'm only just fast enough to win on Expert (level 4 out of 5). So while not engaging in terms of their racecraft, they do what they're meant to, and the do it well, and it doesn't spoil the game in the same way that the first half of this section suggests it might.Noticable Absences
-Free Practice Sessions 1 and 2. It only allows you an hour per race before qualifying to do setup and R&D work.
-Cool Down Lap
-In race settings. You can't adjust, for instance, you're diff while on track, and even Brakes and Fuel only have three settings.
-Variety of in game clips. Even if you win a world championship, you only get to see your typical 'I've one a race' fistpump shot.Conclusion
It's a very good game. It's solid all the way through, enjoyable to the core, and if you put the time in, rewarding. You will
see yourself improve. Trust me on this. If you're a fan of racing games, it's a must. If you're a fan of F1, it's a must. If you're a fan of both, I don't know why you even bothered coming here and reading this. But even if you're not, it's still fun, and it's the best way I've found (Except for reading) of passing two hours. Best of luck in your racing endeavours.