Like a nicely placed ball through two defenders by Lionel Messi, FIFA 13 is a thing of beauty; taking what worked so well last year and improving upon it. With some well placed tweaks and a wealth of gameplay modes, this year’s game is sure to be everything a soccer/football fan needs and more.
One of the first things that really stands out this year about FIFA 13 is the unpredictable nature of the game that has been added in. Much like the way nothing is ever set in stone or smooth in real life soccer, EA Sports Canada has implemented a new system that brings that same feeling over to the game. This new innovation can become frustrating at times but never in a game-breaking way.
One of the ways that EA uses this unpredictable system is with the first touch of players on the pitch. Players now receive the ball on the ground or through the air differently each time. If your player does not have very high skill, or you run onto a ball a bit too fast, your first touch might go right off your foot and away from your player. At times you will find yourself cursing the system when a great through ball isn’t converted due to the first touch, but that’s the same thing that happens daily in the soccer world.
The factors that will determine how well you receive the ball are the speed of the pass, skill of the receiving player, and spin on the ball. It will take some time for you to hone your skill and learn how best to accept each type of pass, but once you master it you will feel a sense of accomplishment as you take a beautiful first touch and finish with a goal.
This isn’t the only area where FIFA 13 has seen an improvement though. To balance out the improved defending of last year, EA Sports has decided to better the attacking options at your disposal, especially when it comes to freedom of dribble. Taking a page out of FIFA Street, the new mechanic allows you to have a tighter control over the ball. Using this along with the precision dribbling from last year will take time to get used to but once mastered you will be able to take a guy one on one or make sharp moves with the ball in high traffic.
Improved AI is also a welcome addition to the attacking options provided to you. When moving your attack forward, your AI teammates will now make smarter runs to support you and give you passing lanes; all while staying onside. There never seems to be a point where you feel alone when going for the goal, as there will always be someone making a good run between defenders or dropping back to allow you to reset the attack. This new improved AI brings a blast of excitement to the game, allowing for some really exciting goals that are a byproduct of this increased movement on offense.
Physicality was a huge focus last year with a brand new Player Impact Engine and this year the same engine has been improved upon. Gone are the extremely odd and funny collisions between players that left many of us scratching our collective heads. Players jostle with each other with a new feel of weight, battling for position while receiving a ball or going up for a header. This added physical edge along with the improved offensive AI gives each game a feeling of a real chess battle, where at times no one really has an edge. These two elements help add to the unpredictability of the game that makes this such a great title.
FIFA 13 brings a lot to the table for not only a quick game of soccer but a deep and rewarding experience. Back from last year are the Be a Pro and Ultimate Team modes but this year they are joined by a new Skill Games mode. This new mode acts as a sort of tutorial, allowing players to work on the fundamentals of the game like passing and shooting. Each thing you can work on has bronze, silver, and gold challenges to allow you to not only get a feel for everything in the game, but also gain XP. Once you have completed all of the challenges in a given discipline, a “skill challenge” will unlock and allow you to post a high score to show off to your friends. This mode gave me a great way between games to work on things like tactical free kicks, where you can use decoy runners.
Last year, FIFA 12 introduced the Football Club, which added challenges throughout the season. Adding onto it this year is a feature called Match Day. This new feature allows players to boot up the game and perform an update which will re-balance the stats of players and teams according to how they have fared in their respective leagues. For instance, if a player on your team starts tearing it up in real life, his stats will be rewarded in the game. Time will tell how much EA Sports keeps up with this feature but it has the possibility to really add a new dimension to the game.
Motion controls are also implemented this time with the PlayStation Move getting a chance to shine on the PS3. Unfortunately, this never happens as the motion controls don’t really provide much more than an annoyance and were quickly tossed away for a controller in my house-hold. With the Move, you use your wand to move players around the field and point to where they are going to pass. This is extremely hard to pick up, as the colorful arrows used by the move can become somewhat of a hindrance when try to focus on the players and the ball as well.
On the presentation side of things, it’s as top notch as ever with fantastic play-by-play work and gorgeous visuals between plays and great replay work. Also added is sideline commentary to keep players up to date with injuries that happen during the game. Each of these provide a great in-game experience besides what happens on the field. Menu’s are extremely smooth, especially when compared to other EA Sports titles like NHL 13.
FIFA 13 is a game that doesn’t stray too far from a winning formula, opting to make smooth tweaks to it and not try to re-write it. That’s not to say that there are not changes, as the game provides new features and even new leagues. The changes to the game’s offensive movement and realistic ball control provide a great balance to the already strong precision defending. If you are a fan of soccer or looking to become one, there is no better place to start than with FIFA 13.