Review: FIFA 13
The FIFA series has always been a part of my gaming life, from the original FIFA International Soccer on the Mega Drive all the way through to FIFA 12. It lost its way for a while so I flirted with Pro Evolution but over the last few years FIFA has reigned supreme. FIFA 13 isn’t about reinventing the wheel; let’s face it after the superb FIFA 12 there was little point. That’s not say EA Canada are resting on their laurels, this years’ title is all about improving on the foundation they have worked so hard to create.
So, what has changed? Well first thing is they have put quite a good footballer on the cover in the form of young Lionel Messi, but in-game there’s a lot to talk about. Previous titles have seen the ball stick to player’s feet, regardless of their stats, that all changes this year with the introduction of ’First Touch Control’. No more sticky footballs here, from now on you will have to think about your passes and the position of your target, if the pass is too hard or too high then you’ll need to make sure whoever is receiving the ball isn’t off balance as you could ruin a vital counter attack and be put on the back foot, alternatively a perfect pass could result in the a sublime piece of control that can result in a goal. The football itself reacts differently, spinning off in random directions adding a layer of unpredictability. For players new to the game the first touch control will be awkward at first but it won’t be long before you’re used to it all.
Another feature is Attacking Intelligence, EA have worked hard on improving the AI of your teammates, especially when it comes to going forward. Players will now try to exploit the space around defenders giving you more options when passing. They even make the effort to stay onside by curving their runs. In turn this creates many more different goals. Dribbling has been improved thanks to the freed dribbling mechanic that was used successfully from FIFA Street. Holding down both triggers gives you greater control over you players. It certainly takes some getting used but if you able to use it well you’ll become an even better player.
After last years’ vast amount of comedy screenshots of players kissing each other and videos of multiple players falling over each other trying to get the same ball my hope was that the player impact engine would have some work done on it, thankfully it has the results are pleasing. There are lots of new animations resulting in lots of new ways to see players being fouled or falling down under challenges. Although there is still the odd comical moment the improvements mean you tend not to notice them so much.
Surprisingly the integration of Kinect is much better than I ever thought it would be. Much like Mass Effect 3, you don’t need to be stood up in front of Kinect, instead you are able to just play normally and issue voice commands. You can get your team to push on when you need a goal or to tighten up at the back. Substitutions can be made without having to pause the game. You can also choose to tell the ref exactly what you think of him, if a decision doesn’t go your way you can call the ref that a complete w*&%er. Cleverly the commentary team pick up on this as well as the referee, which could affect his decisions towards you during the match. There were no problems picking my accent up and it’s worth having a try.
There have been plenty of changes made to the core modes in the game as well as some welcome new modes. For those of us that just want to get some games in there is the excellent EA Match day which allows you to play with your favourite team with the most up to date squad and form of the players. You can mirror the matches that are being played over the current weekend, and the detail extends down to matching the weather conditions of the game. Whilst you are playing you get updates of the latest scores, giving you that real match day experience. Game of the week allows you to take part in the most popular game of the weekend.
Career mode is back with some nice changes, the UI is still very familiar but the experience is still a bit slow during simulation. I like the fact that my new Virtual Pro at Arsenal was shipped off out on loan to Coventry to improve on his game. There are nice little touches like the signing of contracts, the classified football results being read out after matches and the odd press conference to take part in. EA Sports Football Club gives you the opportunity to take part in some challenges such as trying to turn Man Utd’s fortunes around while they are losing 3-1 to Tottenham, I particularly enjoyed going 4-3 up in the final minute.
Ultimate Team is back, probably the most popular mode on FIFA these days, and it now has some more improvements, there is a weekly Team of the Week challenge for your team to try to beat each week, as well as an online and single-player season play. There are lots of new ways to earn rewards to go off and improve your team; this will be the first year I really concentrate on Ultimate Team (keep an eye out for our Best Ultimate Team tips soon). The Interface is much improved too, so getting about is now much easier. As ever the online side of play is pretty solid, you can now play as a Pro Club through the excellent season mode. The head-to-head season mode is back and works brilliantly as well the regular friendly leagues or head-to head matches.
For those of us that like to practice our FIFA skills the new Skills Games mode is the perfect place to practice your passing, shooting and dribbling across lots of different levels. Everyone loves the crossbar challenge and now you’ll get your chance at having a go at chipping penalties into bins. A nice touch is that before every match you get the opportunity to have a go at a skill game while you wait, it becomes very addictive.
This year’s update is excellent, there are still a few annoyances with goalkeepers still being a bit stupid and the sluggishness of the UI but overall the presentation is spot on as always, the Kinect integration actually works really well with the game and the new modes bring some extra freshness to the game.
Review: FIFA 13 Results
What we liked:
Imporvements to the AI are Excellent
New modes are a welcome change
Presentation as ever is superb
What we disliked:
UI is still quite sluggish
Goalkeepers still need some work