F1 23 review: A first look at the latest console release
F1 23 review: A first look at the latest console release
The latest game in the F1 franchise is soon to hit shelves and former GPFans deputy editor has returned to share his initial thoughts.
F1 23 follows what was the most disappointing offering for a long time. The 2022 iteration was a slog to play and had very few plus points.
Gone were the historic cars and tracks, the cars were often borderline unplayable using a controller and the entertaining story mode was also missing.
While not all of these wrongs have been righted, F1 23 has – I am pleased to report – made steps in the right direction.
A much-improved driving experience
First and foremost, this latest title is a huge step up in most areas.
Minor set-up changes or damage are reflected by significant change in the handling of the car. More than has been the case before, F1 23 gives the impression that it will reward clean driving and players who are willing to grind through practice sessions to find that perfect car configuration.
In the real world, much has been made of the significant weight of the cars, but this has never fully translated into the virtual world with cars on the whole having previously rewarded those willing to throw relative caution to the wind.
However, this approach will no longer prevail as, when turning – even at the correct speed for the corner – you genuinely feel like you’re fighting with the car. This is less noticeable when you approach the perfect set-up, but it is nice to feel that you’re having to work for a strong finishing position.
The one negative on this is that even with traction control set to a minimal level, the system is still incredibly invasive and will leave you with a sense that lap time is bleeding away. More than ever, this may be the moment to learn how to manage wheelspin and switch the assist off completely.
But an old problem remains
A longstanding problem with F1 console releases has been the apparent confusion and indecision on whether the game should be a ‘pick up and play’ game, or a hardcore simulator for those keen to immerse themselves in every minute detail.
While it does feel as though a step forward has been made in this regard, it does feel as though this identity crisis remains.
As stated, the feel of the cars has improved significantly, but there remain other games available that offer far a far more realistic experience. Equally, there are those that cater better for the arcade market.
Pinpointing exactly who F1 23 is aimed at remains an arduous task.
Braking Point story returns
Braking Point has returned by popular demand and, as was the case last time, makes for an enjoyable entry point to the game – should you not elect immediately to lap Las Vegas on repeat.
The feature takes on a familiar scenario-based format where you play as returning characters Aiden Jackson and Devon Butler.
But adding a much-needed dose of gender-diversity, the fictional female rising star Callie Mayer takes a key role.
While Mayer is used to highlight issues of sexism that remain prevalent in motorsport, other social topics are explored to varying degrees, although we won’t spoil those here!
It is this story and its nuances that puts Braking Point 2 above the opening chapter.
Las Vegas and other new/returning tracks
As hinted at, one of the first tracks that players will want to venture to is, inevitably, Las Vegas. With a relatively straightforward layout, the track is easy enough to navigate but this makes unlocking the maximum pace very difficult, with full commitment needed on all of the hard-to-spot braking zones.
The visual of The Strip is certainly one that will take a while to get old and it will be interesting to see how the real-world action compares to that of F1 23.
Although it featured as a replacement track in 2021, Losail, the home of the Qatar Grand Prix, was not included on that year’s game.
Making its debut, the track is a high-speed thrill with lots of opportunities for bold overtaking moves.
All of the originally-scheduled 2023 tracks feature, including Imola, but also included are France [Paul Ricard], Portugal [Portimao] and China [Shanghai].
F1 23 cars
Obviously, cars from the 10 teams currently on the F1 grid all feature on F1 23, but F2 is once again represented by the liveries from 2022.
As has been the case in recent years, these will be joined by the 2023 looks at a later date.
Carried over from last year’s release is the ability to drive supercars in a variety of challenges, with Mercedes, Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren, again featuring. Included on this list are the Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series safety cars.
F1 23 is a thoroughly enjoyable game but there is one glaring flaw that we are yet to address – the price.
As per the PlayStation Store at the time of writing, the ‘Standard Edition’ is available on PS5 for £69.99. The ‘Champions Edition’ – which comes with three-days early access, Max Verstappen items, 8 new My Team icons, Braking Point 2 items, F1 World bumper pack and 18,000 PitCoin – is a startling £89.99.
While this price point is the same as the FIFA series, another EA Sports property, it is a significant amount of money to pay out for a game with that is still trying to figure out what it is.
There will be those who simply must have the all-singing, all-dancing ‘Champions Edition’, but if you’re on the fence on whether to pay more for a few days of early access, I’d suggest waiting it out and saving £20.
A solid entry into the franchise and this is certainly – I can’t say this enough – a massive improvement on F1 22. There is still, however, room for improvement.
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