EA Sports FIFA 13 – Is it a stunner or an own goal?
After all, we haven’t exactly been shy in our cynicism for their previous two releases (that’s if you can call Euro 2012 a “release” – although, at £15.99 we were expecting a little more than your run of the mill add-on).
Perhaps EA like our feedback. Or perhaps they just haven’t bothered to read it. In any case, they’ve been kind enough to send us a copy of their latest title.
There’s a fair bit to talk about but let’s start with the gameplay.
One of the things you’ll notice from this year’s FIFA is that the focus is on refinement – and that’s fair enough. After all, FIFA 12’s gameplay was, on the whole, very good.
This year, the major game changer is first touch control. This mechanic takes into account the weight of a pass, the pace at which you are travelling and the control of an individual player. Hold down the sprint button before receiving the ball and you’re likely see the ball loop up in the air as the player fails to gain control. This certainly promotes gamers to produce a more measured build-up but conversely can be rather infuriating if you’re using players or teams whose control isn’t great.
Generally speaking, FIFA 13’s gameplay is an improvement on its predecessor but it’s nothing ground breaking – and perhaps that’s a good thing. The more you interact with FIFA 13, the more you’ll notice the subtle changes that will make all the difference to your overall gameplay experience; the shooting animations, the clever off-the-ball runs, the quick free-kicks and the AI’s ability to *finally* be able to pick up the ball (without looking like an absolute numpty) for a throw-in.
For the first time on the current generation of consoles, you get the feeling that this FIFA title has finally nailed it when it comes to depth and longevity. There’s plenty to keep you occupied here and the real dilemma is where to start. There’s Career Mode, Head to Head Seasons, Pro Club Seasons, Ultimate Team and the highly-addictive new boy, Skill Games – all of which will keep you hooked for hours.
The only slight disappointment is perhaps the MatchDay feature. Not only does it make you think; “Hang on, isn’t this just a re-branded Adidas Live Season?”, the feature is only available for offline exhibition-type matches and isn’t applicable to online Seasons. Not to mention that – at the time of writing at least – the service seems to be a full week behind schedule in its respective ratings.
The rest of FIFA’s engine room has received considerable updates. While the interface of Career Mode still leaves a lot to be desired – and, quite frankly, just shouldn’t bother with the implementation of long-winded text descriptions for news items (who reads them anyway?) – improvements to the transfer system and new audio quirks do serve to complete a pleasurable experience.
The popular Ultimate Team mode has been completely re-skinned and also now incorporates a Seasons mode – along with many other on and offline variations on match types. Pro Clubs – often cast aside by EA in previous titles as a lesser priority – has received some much needed attention too.
If there’s one area that FIFA – or any sports game for that matter – finds difficult to crack, it is perhaps the audio commentary. It’s simply not plausible to insert an endless amount of phrases for any given situation. Inevitably, repetition will always become a factor. With that being said, FIFA’s duo of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith have been given some considerable boosts to their scripts and the range of scenarios available in the game now is impressive.
Then there’s Geoff Shreeves. Yes, he’s an irritant in his role with Sky Sports, but his insertion to the game’s audio here is certainly welcome and adds that extra bit of authenticity to proceedings.
Will we end up muting the TV because all this becomes annoyingly repetitious? In all likelihood, yes. But for now, enjoy it for what it is.
This FIFA has all the tools to become a mainstay in the console for the next 12 months – and it will be difficult to budge it. That’s not to say the franchise is perfect. Far from it. At time of release, the game bears some teething problems with some sporadic glitches hindering the overall performance. However, that mustn’t deter from the fact that the core experience of FIFA feels plentiful, rewarding and just quite simply; fun.
EA may need to review their procedures when it comes to developing, marketing and publishing their peripheral releases like FIFA Street and tournament-specific games but their flagship title looks in pretty good condition right now.
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