FIFA 13 Review
So here we go, only a few days after release (due to some circumstances beyond Soccer Gaming’s control!) here is our official FIFA (Soccer) 13 Review. The review was conducted using a PlayStation 3 copy of FIFA 13, and due to some online issues, only concentrates on the offline version of the game. A full online review will be up and running in due course!
It must be said, as I am sure as you may have read in many reviews previous, FIFA 13 is not going to completely revolutionise the way you play soccer video games. In fact, casual gamers will initially struggle to notice the subtle differences on the field that make this year’s instalment a marginal improvement over its 2012 guise. Perhaps the leading point here is, if you loved FIFA 12, FIFA 13 is more of the same in a neater and slicker package. If FIFA 12 wasn’t for you (and being a football gaming fan of vast experience, I would initially question why!) then you won’t find too much different in terms of physical game play differences to win you over.
Got that? Still here? Good. So having spoken about these subtle differences, the biggest question is what are they, and how do they influence play? Well, the most notable one if the first touch control, and how it influences the way you now play the game. Basically, the quicker your travelling, the less likely you are to get a decent, immaculate, Messi-esque first touch. Slow your player down, and you have much more chance or moving the ball the way you wish to. In true FIFA fashion, areas such as pressure, ball spin, players core skill level and overall player fatigue will also play an influence, meaning trying to trap that ball with your CB in the 89th minute in order to play out won’t always be a sure-fire option, and hitting row Q in order to get players back to support and cover might be more the case. This may frustrate arcade style gamers at first, who will get annoyed when their usual pace demons seem to be running the ball out of play, but bear with it and the system is both rewarding and ultimately much more realistic.
Fatigue is also an area which EA Sports seems to have put a lot of time into. In FIFA 13, you are much lesslikely to be able to rely on the same 11 players for a full 90 or 120 minutes, and the way substitutes are used is crucial to success or failure. Players tire with much greater realism, meaning trying to beat everyone with Ronaldo or Neymar will get you so far early on, but in the 80th minute, there stamina will be drained, and the recovery runs they make or ability to press will become severely limited. Expect players shot power, pass accuracy and overall speed to drop as they tire too, however this does feel realistic, and not forced the way it could have come across.
Elsewhere on the game play, it is very much as you were. A few new animations, both in play and during celebrations or cut scenes grace the game, and the highly rated collision system has returned, with a more polished and realistic feel to it. Injuries are also becoming a much more realistic part of the game, with new animations for players holding parts of their body, and even the ability to here Jeff Shreeves’ touchline injury report on a player that has just gone down or taken a knock. Free Kicks have been adapted to include a three player combination, using dummies and flicks to help eventually set up a shot, and players movement off the ball has been tweaked to just give the better players more footballing intelligence (although it is ultimately the gamers skill to see a run and hit the pass).
Difficult as it may be to swallow, but that is pretty much where the changes end when physically playing the game. Far from revolutionary, however enough to give gamers a feel that they are playing a whole new game. On this alone, some gamers may feel the £40 for minor updates may be a little steep, but it’s pretty obvious that EA Sports have turned their attention away from the game engine this year.
As risky as this may be, it has definitely made FIFA 13 the most featured packed football game of its generation, if not ever. Everything from FIFA 12 makes a return both on and offline, meaning challenges, online leader boards, Be A Pro, Career mode, Ultimate Team and Be A Goalkeeper all make welcome returns. In addition, the EA Sports Football Club has been enhanced; with a wealth of new unlockables options ranging from retro third kits, additional goal celebrations, new boots and game add ons and modifiers. Points are awarded for simply playing FIFA, and the unlocked items range between features that can be used in every game mode, or specific to one mode (for example, Ultimate Team or Career Mode). This alone gives gamers a reason to enter the EA Sports Football Club, where you can see your teams reputation within it’s virtual league (made up of fans of other teams playing online) and see what your mates have been getting up to on FIFA. Basically, its an online community with all the trimmings.
Elsewhere, EA Sports Match day gives the game a feel similar to that of a 2K sports title. When switched on, it gives gamers the opportunity to play that weekends round of fixtures, with accurate squads and constantly changing player form and stats. So in other words, as the real world changes, so to does FIFA 13. Players that are injured or unavailable drop out of squads, and during the pre match build up and in game, the commentators talk about players, based on their real world problems. For example, if playing as Tottenham, there would be a mention of Jermaine Defoe’s recent scoring form, or how Michael Dawson has found himself left out in the cold recently. Whilst aesthetic touches, it enhances the playing experience no end and as long as EA Sports continue to support this, it will be a game feature that will give a feel of a modern game right up until May!
The Arena options menu has been stripped back slightly this year. Whilst you can still practice and choose your player in a 1 v 1 environment, the range of backdrops and locations in which you play is limited to a virtual reality style booth. Instead of this loading up from the outset too, it needs to be accessed via the training menu. Pre Game (and also available from the training menu) are the new Skill Games, which offer players the opportunity to boost their EA Sports ranking, earn in game currency and hone their skills. These range from basic timed dribbling challenges to chipping balls into drums to working on set pieces, and whilst very simple, offer a nice loading distraction for gamers. With a little more work, these could become really interesting additions in future years, and include ways of improving players overall game as opposed to one core skill.
The soundtrack is its usual self, a collection of cutting edge artists performing tracks you would find on any self respecting DJs iPod, and the dual commentary teams give a feeling of uniqueness to each match. New scripts have been brought in to stop the stale old banter from FIFA 12 resurfacing, and Alan Smith is actually starting to sound like a better option than Andy Gray! The usual edit modes, ability to add your own tracks from your hard drive, import custom chants, link the game to your online EA Sports account and modify the AI’ success rate to fully customise your own personal gaming experience all return and in the whole, are as successful as ever.
The problem with FIFA 13 may just be that it has set its own bar so high, gamers aren’t really sure where it is looking to go next. We have all suffered the initial highs then woeful early 2000’s in which EA Sports butchered many a game in order to eventually give birth to this generations offerings, and with FIFA 12 they got themselves well and truly ‘noticed’. FIFA 13 doesn’t break any new ground, instead adding a layer of concrete to steady what is already built upon it. Anyone looking for revolution will come away feeling a little short changed, however, as usual, it will sell by the bucket load, win multiple awards and be as popular as ever, and it deserves to!