F1 2013’s Career Mode is my Guilty Pleasure

f1_2013 2015-11-15 18-17-08-18Inquire about the best modern Formula One game on any virtual auto racing message board, and the answer is almost unanimous: F1 2013 had the most cars, the most tracks, the most amount of things to do, and most importantly, the least amount of bugs. Four hours of driving into Career Mode, I’m hooked. I live in a timezone where watching any Formula One races live is damned near impossible, but F1 2013 is doing a great job at making up for it.

After F1 2015 was every bit as bad as the initial reviews led me to believe, I picked up the Classic Edition of 2013 on Steam for the discounted price of $12, though the standard retail price is still a bargain sitting at $25. I expected something only marginally less shitty than 2014, fully aware that I would probably discard the game after a session or two, never playing it again.

Instead, I’m approaching the halfway point of my first season in Career Mode driving for perennial backmarker Toro Rosso. Fatigue is the only legitimate reason I can list as to why I’m not even further into the 2013 calendar. Allowing for a fully customizable offline campaign mode, the ten minute qualifying sessions, followed by races lasting an average of half an hour against Legend AI, it takes a fair bit out of you. For once, it’s nice to actually play and progress through a game, rather than endlessly search for mods, graphical tweaks, or like-minded users to race with in private servers. You click the icon, you drive in an F1 race, and it means something within the virtual world in which you’re participating.

f1_2013 2015-11-15 18-18-34-48Notorious for buggy launches and other goofy hiccups affecting on-track penalty logic, Codemasters has at least stabilized F1 2013 for those who continue to play it. I still recall playing co-op campaign in F1 2011 with my buddy from down the street, and restarting races upwards of five times thanks to unwarranted collision penalties due to AI drivers crashing into us. Bullshit penalties are a thing of the past, as not once but seven times I’ve made it through the first lap of a Grand Prix without requiring a restart. The only penalty I’ve been dealt all season was due my own desperation; aggressively attempting to hold off Mark Webber on extremely worn tires in Barcelona for fifth place.

Unlike F1 2014, where I noted that there was some serious sorcery going on among the AI drivers – sometimes gaining ridiculous speed or drastically falling off pace with no real explanation, the behavior of my opponents directly reflects the reports I receive from my race engineer. While tailing Nico Rosberg in Montreal, I was told the Mercedes driver had cranked up his fuel flow to a rich mixture. Within a lap or two, my lowly Toro Rosso couldn’t keep up. Frustrating as a driver, but for all the right reasons. The game wasn’t conspiring against me as it had done in F1 2014, I was simply the victim of being the second driver for a shitty team.

When it rained at Monaco during qualifying, AI drivers lap times were still tangible enough where I muscled myself into the top 10 on sheer driving skill.  A sixth place finish in the race itself was not due to the AI woefully off pace in one corner allowing me to catch up, a phenomenon EmptyBox has dubbed as “that one corner syndrome”, but because I drove a near flawless race and got the setup right.

f1_2013 2015-11-15 18-13-43-07Of course, it’s not a simulator. It’s hard to take a firm stance on this, because as a hardcore sim guy, it’s almost blasphemy to say I don’t think any tweaks need to be made to the handling model in F1 2013. It’s not a simulation by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s nearly impossible to say this is somehow an arcade game. Thinking back to the glory days of rFactor in the late 2000’s, F1 2013 reminds me of some of the Formula One mods that came out and were discarded by the community as being too easy to drive, only seeing use in leagues with a handful of participants. It’s FSOne 2007, but a click or two more planted to the tarmac.

And it’s not entirely a bad thing given the audience F1 2013 is intended for, and the overall focus of the game. The simplified physics mean I don’t have to invest a solid hour of practice laps into learning the shift and braking points for each track, something that would artificially extend my playtime by several hours and drag me away from the most important part of the game: racing. Instead, I can jump right into a qualifying session at Montreal and post a lap time that puts me in the middle of the grid. I can keep up with the AI at Bahrain despite never touching the track in any Stock Car Extreme league. You can’t get away with driving like a total knob, but F1 2013 doesn’t punish you for not dedicating your life to racing sims.

f1_2013 2015-11-15 18-05-52-20Does it have its oddities? Of course. Under power, the car skates around in an extremely unnatural manner when the rear end breaks traction, but this is soon rectified once rubber builds up on the racing surface – something you’d think was reserved for the hardcore sims like rFactor or iRacing. The Force Feedback effects are also firmly stuck in the past, prior to Codemasters’ awakening with the excellent DiRT Rally. To complicate the vague force feedback sliders that require some advanced tweaking with your resident Logitech profiler to feel acceptable, V-Sync is somehow tied into the way the game sends FFB signals to your wheel. That one generated a lot of laughs on Teamspeak when we all found it.

Of course, all of these issues can be permanently rectified just by fiddling around in the options menu as any smart racer should before diving into what F1 2013 has to offer. You are never battling a different type of Force Feedback each week, nor does the framerate jump around with each update. Personally, I’d like the game to tell me somewhere to set my profiler’s wheel rotation to 300 degrees – some people might not know that about F1 cars – but there is indeed an end to working out all the little quirks left over after Codemasters moved on to next year’s title.

The biggest immersion breaking bug so far has not been on-track, but within the emails and news clippings making up some of the secondary information screens in Career Mode. I had a killer qualifying lap at Bahrain, but I’m driving for Toro Rosso, and fell back to eighth by the end of the race. Regardless, my team manager had already fired off the congratulatory email to me, and the post race recap also believed I’d stood atop the podium.

Untitled-2For $12, or $25 for those who weren’t around for the Codemasters discount weekend on Steam, there are significantly more positive aspects to the Classic Edition of F1 2013 than there are negatives. My experience with the title so far has primarily been with the game’s expansive Career Mode, although there are many other elements of the game I haven’t touched a whole lot yet. Three decades of classic cars and a handful of classic tracks are a throwback to when older PS2 titles offered neat little goodies for those who chased after some of the more elusive achievements, and the functionality to run a full online co-op season as teammates with your buddy is there. Several other bite-sized challenge modes give those without several hours to dedicate to a lengthy career mode something to do, and for the rather small amount of money Codemasters asks for this title, there’s certainly a lot to do.

Again, as a sim guy who physically isn’t able to stay awake and catch many Formula One races as they happen, F1 2013 is a title I shouldn’t have sank more than an hour or two into because it doesn’t meet any of my interests. Instead, I find myself really enjoying what Codemasters has offered for a solid price, and wish many of the hardcore titles we’ve got to choose from gave me this many reasons to keep playing.

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26 thoughts on “F1 2013’s Career Mode is my Guilty Pleasure

  1. Unlike F1 2014, where I noted that there was some serious sorcery going on among the AI drivers ..thx for the tip cuz thats what i thought while try before buy with this Black box ver of F12014.already have f1 2013 on wishlist waitng for discount.

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    1. It’s only $5.86 for a steam code on G2A.com, I just bought it from them tonight. Redeem on Steam, download, done. No need to wait for a sale.

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    1. It’s the gamer equivalent of hipster elitists admitting to liking a band on a major label. You gotta preface it with something else to maintain your “cool”.

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  2. I still think that F1 2010 was the best codies F1 game. The career in that was epic. Loved the “Live the Life” feeling, press interviews, team truck etc. etc.

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    1. The game itself was largely broken though. The AI didn’t even care about its own fuel, let alone the tyre wear, and from what I remember, the AI car&driver performance didn’t shift around anywhere near as much as in 2013. The actual immersion was fantastic, but it wasn’t enough to make up for how painful the gameplay was.

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  3. Just wait til you notice how much the AI values shift around at the end of each season, or even in between races. Career Mode has a lot more variety and enjoyment than something of its kind (particularly in the series that it’s in) ever ought to have.

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  4. F1 2013 is a really fun game. It isn’t a sim, no, but it also isn’t the easiest thing to drive in the world either. And it does something that the current generation of sims don’t do: it functions well, as a game. It’s got a decent amount of polish, is presented well, and still holds up two years later. With that said, there is room for improvement. If Codemasters had chosen to build upon 2013’s successes, the franchise would look pretty different now I think. 2013 wasn’t perfect but it’s certainly a lot better than the mediocre 2014 installment and the utter disaster that is 2015. I agree that career mode is a blast, which makes it mind boggling that Codies have removed it for this year’s game. I would be surprised if next year brings any improvement, but I think at this point the best thing that could happen for the F1 series is if Codemasters lose the license because I doubt they will top this game.

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    1. I don’t think you understand what rFactor 2 and AC are trying to accomplish. Maybe if you are into Burnout and Need for Speed a career mode matters, but in a sim the reward is driving the car quickly. If you are this upset by “lack” of features, then sims aren’t for you.

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      1. Your opinion is a very snobby and elitist one and part of the whole problem. So as long as the physics are good, nothing else matters? You are so, so wrong about that. rF2 and AC are crippled by incomplete and missing features. And that includes the simulation aspects. They are still video games though, so stop with this bullshit about “it’s a sim so it’s only about driving the car fast and nothing else.” Forgive me for expecting a little more for my $. If we don’t demand better the games will not get better.

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      2. So we shouldn’t be upset when we drop $60 (or more) on something and after the years of development AC and rFactor 2 have had, they’re still missing features, like really essential features? Even when AC is ostensibly a “completed” game and is sold at full price? Get outta here with that nonsense. When James talks about his “Stockholm Syndrome” theory, you’re what he’s talking about. Enjoy your broken, unfinished games.

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      3. Keep in mind that Assetto Corsa said they’d have a career mode. It’s one of the reasons I bought the game, perhaps even the MAIN reason.

        Now people want to claim “well, you can drive in it, so tough titties!”

        No, I was misled as a consumer. I wanted, and many people wanted, Gran Turismo/Forza on PC. According to sources, we got exactly that level of physics (Hello Forza 6), but we got a garbage career mode. I have checked, and no. We weren’t promised that level of achievement.

        But we didn’t even get a championship-mode style career mode! What we got was essentially a “Challenge Mode” that unlocked progressive tiers.

        That’s not really acceptable, and I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me but this revisionist claim that “AC was only trying to be a driving simulator” is absurd. Here’s a quote from Marco, in an interview at the September release presser:

        “[Question: You mentioned some new modes and also career mode, when are they coming?]

        Starting from the last question: career mode will come in the 1.0RC of the game, which will come soon. It will let you to participate in a series of event, starting from the slower cars to finally reach the more intresting ones, the championships with the GTs.

        Speaking about the new modes: we have planned for the next year the relase of more contents, not only DLCs but additional free contents, new special events, a more predetermined career and a bunch of options that will not be in the v1.0 but will come later with free updates like extending the pitstop feature from a MP-only feature to SP too.

        Speaking of career mode we will have a series of events that will give a “family feeling” like the Gran Turismo series, to reach and make the game more enjoyable for the casual gamers and there will be a lot of special events available for your selection allowing a more customisable career instead of a fully predetermined one where you can take and choose different paths”

        So stop lying to my god damn face.

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      4. There is championship style in the career. But once you move to the race cars, in the advanced series. So until you get there, you need to pass the time attacks and race events challenges.

        If you want to skip that, write /dev in steam launch options and then you can access any series from the career. It will show locked, but you can get in.

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      5. First championship is T1, which is the 8th career mode series (after that are 3 more pages full of championships), but you don’t need to complete all the 7 previous ones – like the man said, you get to choose what you want to work towards.

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  5. call me whatever you want but i think f1 2016 will be a very good game. as far as i am concerned it was obvious that 2015 would be a mess 1. because of the delay, 2. because of the very early launch.
    Plus during development they didnt just improve an existing engine they created a new one from the ground up (according to Codies) which is bound to have many more bugs compared to an engine whose iterations had 5 years to develop. The very core gameplay, is massively improved (driving model, ai during wheel to wheel racing) however the rest of the game is very undeveloped. This is where the game (i think) will be improved. If anything bringing back the features they removed from te previous games will make it 10 times better.

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  6. I initially tried out F1 2013 with James (as did Maple), but for some reason I had a completely different experience to what James had. For me, the AI was atrocious. During qualifying, they did everything they could to block me. Literally every lap when I passed the finish line a car came out of the pits, and slowly drove into the racing line, thus ruining my lap or trying to ruin my lap before T1. If they didn’t succeed in doing that, they purposely drove very slowly on the racing line, especially during fast corners. During races they’d bump me off track, or when they spun out/went off track always tried to get in my way when coming past them, resulting in me having to take evasive action and sometimes getting a penalty for dangerous driving or corner cutting. Thankfully I had only played something like 100 minutes and was able to refund the game.

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  7. I too was unaware AC had championships anywhere in Career mode.

    Maybe with this /dev code, I’ll check them out.

    BTW, iRacing’s Black Friday code is in effect until December 4. I don’t have it written down, but will post it later if there’s interest. Instead of $99/year, subscriptions can be purchased for $49 (with up to 5 years renewable, I think).

    For interested road racers, the Mazda Cup runs on the base tracks, and the top splits feature incredibly competitive racing with some of the service’s best drivers,

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  8. If this game took track limits more seriously (grass has crazy grip and curbs do nothing) and took away from the players the setup feature (full of lame exploits) it would be a nice game.

    These two sins ruined online racing, and AI is awful.

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  9. The best part of any Code masters F1 game is the phenomenal weather effects which rival anything from Project CARS. Mod support is also great pre F1-2014 too.

    Shame CM can’t release any F1 game without a shit-tonne of bugs, most of which should have been fixed in the QA stage.

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