FIFA 13 for the Wii U is not simply a cynical and clinically done port of the PS3/Xbox 360 version of the game except playable on Nintendo’s new system. The developer EA Canada put in plenty of work into the Wii U version of their flagship football series. Most developers tend to opt out of taking advantage of whatever new technology Nintendo is currently fiddling with in their consoles. No one could honestly blame EA Canada for simply mapping the traditional controls to the Wii U’s GamePad, especially in a sports game where innovating with a controller is not always a recipe for success. Except the developers really made a huge effort when bringing FIFA 13 to the Wii U and paid good attention to using the GamePad’s specific controls in a meaningful way. For other opinions on the various version of FIFA 13, read the reviews for PC, Xbox 360 and iOS.
The ultimate question with any sport simulation game is whether it is fun to play or not? Will someone want to play this game repeatedly? In lieu of being able to play against a friend in the same room in a heated match will they want to play against a sophisticated AI or online against strangers or far away friends and will it give them the same amount of enjoyment regardless of the configuration? So, is FIFA 13 fun to play?
The biggest change from other version FIFA 13 and the Wii U port is certainly the controls. There are a number of options given to the player when choosing to play FIFA 13 on the Wii U. As stated before plenty of developers opt out or cop out on utilizing whatever innovation Nintendo is currently pushing with a system, but that is not the case here. EA Canada thoughtfully and thoroughly used the GamePad when designing controls specific for the Wii U, and it is not simply throwing a mini-map on the second screen ala most DS/3DS titles. When using FIFA 13’s Alternate Controls, the player has button controls similar to the other console version and the Wii U’s Classic Controls with some minor switch ups with button mapping. The real difference though comes when shooting the ball with the Alternate Controls and where EA Canada should be commended.
When using Free Kicks, the player can position the GamePad in line with their TV to bring up a net with a reticule that they can aim. Once they have a position they want, they can choose the curve and power of the shot then hope for a goal. Another innovative shot mechanic using the GamePad is when the player nears the goal instead of using the standard button they can shake the GamePad to bring up the net on the GamePad’s screen and use their finger or the stylus to choose where and they want to aim the ball. Depending on the length of their touch, that will determine the power. Lastly, the player can use the touch screen to pass by simply touching the teammate they want to pass to or switch players by simply tapping on them on the GamePad’s touch screen (as well as using the touch screen to man mark and tackle by tapping the attacking player). There are other touch screen functions including selecting tactics during matches without having to pause.
Again, this is a great and smart use of the GamePad’s unique features. However, there is a steep learning curve when incorporating these Alternate Controls in competitive play. With the quick pace of matches, most players may opt for the Classic Controls. Yet, it is nice that the Alternate Controls exist and they are fun to use when looking for a change of pace in matches.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically, FIFA 13 demonstrates what a leap the Wii U has made over its SD predecessor. Player models are rendered well and feature great animations. While a majority of the action takes place in a zoomed-out perspective to give the player a good idea of what is going on in the field in the moments when the camera angle changes and zooms in, the gamer can see what the player models have good detail and look really good. With player creation, the amount of detail the user has control over shows how good players can look in FIFA 13. The various stadiums are done well and look well, the only drawback is the look of the crowds because while they do feature some animation, they still look like cardboard. While they should not be fully articulated and independent, they can be distracting (while the Wii U is technically a next-gen console, it is running with only a slightly more powerful version of what the PS3 and Xbox 360 has).
The sound in FIFA 13 is excellent featuring great commentary from the various announcers that keeps up perfectly with the action happening on screen. There is not a giant lag time between the commentary and what the players are doing in the game; this lends a huge amount verisimilitude to the preceding. It is a hugely impressive feat. The sound effects from the crowd are good and they react to the action happening on the field. While the game features an impressive music soundtrack full of good songs from a number of great artist and Flo Rida, the only time the gamer really can hear them is when in menus. This makes sense considering the time and effort that EA Canada put into creating accurate play-by-play commentary, but there could have been a little more done with all this music that incorporates it some way into actual matches.
FIFA 13 for the Wii U is an interesting port of the yearly football series. The game thoughtfully incorporates the Wii U’s unique controls in a major way and while most players may opt for a more standard feel, they are worth giving a shot from time to time. The gameplay is as fun and enjoyable as ever. While FIFA 13 has been available on any number of systems (nearly anyway gamers could play FIFA, they are able to play FIFA 13) for a long time before FIFA 13 for the Wii U released alongside the system’s launch, if anyone managed to avoid picking up a copy then snagging it for Nintendo’s new system is worth doing.