Soccer, or Football? FIFA. Nuff Said.
Written by Super User
Published Saturday, 27 October 2012 20:00
As the old adage goes, “Another day, another dollar. Another year, another FIFA.” The annual release of EA’s highly-touted soccer franchise brings out the football fans in droves, and over the course of this generation, EA has managed to create both a commercially successful and critically acclaimed FIFA franchise. After FIFA 12’s release, it didn’t seem as if EA could take the franchise much higher. Unfortunately, that’s what’s happened with FIFA 13, as it remains a brilliant football game, but had the unlucky privilege of following up what could be considered the finest FIFA to date.
That’s not to say FIFA 13 isn’t a good game in its own right. It’s just after the immense amount of rebuilding that went on in FIFA 12, this year’s iteration had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, FIFA 13 does have a handful of improvements that make it a solid soccer simulation. Most notably, the teammate AI during a match has been remarkably improved. In fact, it could be argued the computer-controlled players might actually be too good. Teammates will make runs when appropriate, call for the ball when they’re going to be open, and mark up against the opposing side much better than in years past. Now you’ll no longer feel like you need to be everywhere at once to make matches competitive, and can better use computer allies to execute strategy on the pitch.
"If you’re a die-hard fan, you likely had FIFA 13 in your sights the moment it was announced. If you’ve been away from the series for a few entries, there’s no better time to jump back into FIFA."
Gameplay on the field is also improved this year with the revamping of First Touch. Now when attempting to corral a ball, physics will come into play, which can either make it easier or more difficult to wrangle control. Hitting a player with a hard pass is likely to make it more of a challenge to keep the ball close, and thus away from defenders. Maintaining a good separation from the defense is crucial in setting up an attack, and without a good first touch, it’s likely the ball will be turned over. Of course, if you’ve got players with great footwork all over the field, the challenge will be slightly diminished, but it’s amazing how something so subtle can affect the flow of the game so dramatically.
If you’re having a bit of trouble getting a good grasp on the gameplay, EA has implemented new skill games to help teach you how to play better. Gone is the rudimentary player vs. keeper loading screen, and in its place you’ll find one of the random skill tests included to mess around with before the match begins. Each test has three levels, with a fourth final test reserved for putting you through the ultimate passing/shooting/lobbing/free kick wringer. The tests are actually pretty fun to play, at least early on, and do give players a better grasp of how FIFA 13 controls. Some of the later tests do push the limits of sanity, but the arcade feel provides a nice refresher from the standard game, while also making you (potentially) a better player.
FIFA 13’s Virtual Pro and Manager modes return again this year with some slight tweaks. More international games appear via World Cup qualifying, as does the ability to become a national team manager. The menu system is a bit cumbersome, even with the tutorial overlays, but there’s an insane amount of depth in both modes. Manager mode now plays much more true to life, and the complexities of running both your club team and an international team should make die hard fans very happy. Like its American football counterpart, Madden NFL, FIFA’s career modes also attempt to include some breaking news headlines. It works well enough at the onset, but the further you progress, or the less reputable a team you use, the more that aspect falls apart.
Where FIFA 13 truly shines is the way all of its online modes are wonderfully integrated together. EA Sports Football Club is back, and any and all experience you earned in previous titles FIFA Street and FIFA 12 will carry over. There’s a host of options available in the store right away for loyal and longtime players, which is a nice touch, but newcomers can earn new gear, goods, and cheats just as easily by merely playing the game. Ultimate Team and Seasons return, but the most improved online offering is in the new Match Day option. With Match Day, player and team performances are tracked and updated in real time. If you want to play through your favorite club’s recent matches, you’ll play with a roster of players with up to date stats and skills based on how they are playing in the real world. It’s akin to what other sports games do with roster updates, however Match Day is doing it for quite a few more teams and players around the globe. It’s impressive, and is one of the best new features of FIFA 13.
Visually, it doesn’t appear much has changed from FIFA 12. At least, that’s true when you first boot up the game. After playing a few matches, it becomes clear just how different FIFA 13’s physics engine is from its predecessor. Using the same base, EA retooled quite a bit of the physics for FIFA 13 to make it less prone to the outrageous collisions that made FIFA 12 a YouTube star. While there are still moments where collisions are a bit awkward, for the most part players react well on the pitch, and have some smoother transitions and animations when getting up from a tackle or some other entanglement. The commentary is on point, though with so many teams and players to talk about, it’s surprising how often you hear the same key phrases uttered time and time again.
FIFA 13 is an impressive soccer title. It isn’t the gigantic leap over its predecessor that FIFA 12 was over FIFA 11, but there are few games that present the actual sport with as much accuracy. A lot of the modes have been revamped, and there’s plenty of replayability to find in FIFA 13’s online offerings. The AI has been improved to great effect, and the tweaked physics and First Touch make FIFA 13 as true a simulation of the real deal as it’s ever been. If you’re a die-hard fan, you likely had FIFA 13 in your sights the moment it was announced. If you’ve been away from the series for a few entries, there’s no better time to jump back into FIFA.
Release date : 2012-09-25
Publisher : EA Sports
Developer : EA Canada
Gameplay : Sports
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