Recently we had the privilege to to visit the Bandai Namco offices in Sydney to get our first hands on experience of Codemasters next installment in their F1 franchise, F1 2013.
Part of that privilege was the opportunity to speak with Alan Jones, the 1980 Formula One world champion who is featured as part of the 'Classic Mode' in F1 2013. A full breakdown of that interview as well as his answers to our famous 'driver feature' questions can be found here and here, but for now I'd like to take a moment to give some initial thoughts and feelings of F1 2013 and our experiences so far.
Before I start, one important point I'd like to make is that our initial feelings are based on the equipment we had at our disposal and the fact the code we were playing was still considering beta. So until we get our hands on the final product and test on our own hardware, it will be hard to draw any specific conclusions of what we experienced.
F1 2013 cars
Obviously we are very interested in any changes to the 2013 cars over the 2012 cars in terms of both handling and looks. Visually the game continues to look great, no major changes or improvements there and really there isn't any need to.
We fired up time trial mode, and while that's never historically been an accurate way to see how a car handles in single or multiplayer scenario's we can still draw some parallels with F1 2012 time trial handling.
Picking the always popular McLaren we immediately felt a difference in the front and rear end of the car. F1 2012 received alot of criticism that the cars had too much understeer and had no notion of needing to control acceleration out of corners. It seems that F1 2013 will return to a similar front/rear end feel we had in 2011. The cars feel extremely gripy in the front, but are tail happy when the power isn't applied smoothly. That's not to say it's simply 2011 handling, but it does feel like a molding of both 2011 and 2012.
We were especially pleased to see the way the rear end of the cars behave throttle control was almost non existent in 2012 and makes a welcome return in 2013.
Overall for the 2013 cars we were pleased to see that you can now really get your car turned in, but still need to be mindful of your throttle control to get the best traction and acceleration out of corners.
Codemasters big push in 2013 is it's classic mode. A change to drive some of the great F1 cars of the past, including Alan Jones' 1980 Williams FW07 championship winning car. These cars are a whole different challenge to drive and as you expect handle in a completely different manner. The FW07 was a turbo charged monster, but just as important to remember it was a manual car. Changing gears there is a pause as you watch your driver man handle the gears and as such a gear change isn't instantaneous like it is in a modern F1 car.
All the power is at the high end as you wait for the turbo to kick in and with only 5 gears, you have to make sure your selection is spot on. With so much power and torque you have to be on your toes in the low speed turns, even second gear at low revs is enough to get you spinning.
The cockpits are stunning, the Lotus 98T is sure to be the most popular classic car. And it's easy to see why.
Overall things arn't looking to bad, the new tracks should spark some new challenges and driving the classic era cars were alot of fun. F1 2013 is due for a steam release in Australia on October 5th.