EA Sports enjoyed considerable success with FIFA 12. The game set sales records, showing the global dominance of the franchise. It was also well received by critics.
It would have been easy for EA Canada to sit back and enjoy their success. Instead, the developers focused on how they could improve on the title. Enhancements to player physics and artificial intelligence aim to build upon the foundation set by FIFA 12 and deliver the most realistic virtual football experience ever.
Playable teams included in the demo are Juventus, Manchester City, Arsenal, AC Milan, and Borussia Dortmund. Games last six minutes and can be played in sun, rain, snow, or at night.
Upon loading up the demo, the menu systems and loading screens are the most noticeable changes. The demo drops users right into the main menu rather than a practice arena mode, although this could just be a feature of the demo. The main menu interface is easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing.
Of course, most fans are anticipating the changes to gameplay. The improvements touted by EA Canada made a major impact on the field.
The game benefits from an improve A.I. system that makes teammates seem smarter and setting up plays easier. A new attacking offense makes A.I. teammates find and create lanes to the goal. Unfortunately, this leads to extra offsides calls. However, I would rather have aggressive teammates and deal with those penalties. Computer-controlled teammates are noticeably better on defense as well, but still make bad decisions.
Last year, the Player Impact Engine added more realistic player interactions and outcomes. The result was not always pretty. For FIFA 13, tweaks were made and the engine was enhanced to work with players fighting for position rather than just effecting on-the-ball animations. Gameplay is not noticeably changed but players tend to be more physical.
The new First Touch controls system is a huge change for the franchise. A footballer’s abilities and accuracy of the pass help determine how cleanly the player traps the ball. This added layer of realism makes it easier for defensive players to win back possession. Players have to be more patient in attacking this year as being too aggressive results in more turnovers.
Dribbling is made easier to master in this year’s version of FIFA. The new Complete Dribbling system makes one-on-one moments easier for skilled players. Gamers will find the ability to dribble sideways while facing the goal as the best feature of the system.
Refereeing is much stricter than in previous games in the series, although this is another feature that could just be showing up in the demo build. Footballers can play more physical due to the Impact Engine but refs notice this. Red cards are given too early and often. As previously mentioned, teammates would frequently creep offsides trying to get an open lane to the goal. Of course, tweaks could easily be made to refereeing through updates.
Visually, FIFA 13 delivers what fans have come to expect from the franchise. Player models look beautiful and animations are smooth. If anything could use some work, it is the crowds, which do not seem to matter to EA Canada because they appear the same every year.
Celebrations are as entertaining as ever. Accurate player reactions to calls or non-calls by referees add to the sense of realism. Substitutes getting ready to come in can now be seen warming up on the sideline.
Commentary is improved but not without flaws. The demo shows off the commentators’ ability to apply drama that has taken place in recent games. However, there are still moments when the announcers use general terms such as “the player” or “the team” that remind viewers this is still a video game. Overall, a match in FIFA 13 is becoming discernible from watching a game on television.
Although it is difficult to draw conclusions from a six minute exhibition, it is safe to say FIFA 13 is shaping up to be another outstanding entry in the football franchise. The demo will have football fans pressing the rematch button over and over as they look to get their FIFA fix before the game is released.
The demo is now live and available for download on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. FIFA 13 is expected to release Sept. 25 in North America.