FIFA 13 was tasked with the nearly impossible goal of topping last year’s football simulation. It is difficult to improve on what is nearly perfect but somehow EA Canada managed to make this year’s game even more realistic.
FIFA 12 brought major changes to the franchise and broke records for sales. This year, the developers decided not to fix what was not broken. Instead, FIFA 13 received seemingly minor tweaks that make a huge difference in gameplay. The result is a more perfect experience.
The biggest change is the addition of First Touch Control, which is a new system that means players will not be making perfect catches on every touch. In past experiences, footballers would have perfect ball control when receiving a pass. Those days are gone. While the best one can hope for is nearly perfect dribbling, shooting and passing skills, the era of perfect ball is over, thankfully.
First Touch Control makes the game more like its real-life counterpart, adding a level of unpredictability normally only found in the real sport. Players running into a pass at full speed will find it difficult to maintain control of the ball. Through balls and lob passes are not as easy to control and result in opportunities for the defense to create turnovers.
Another feature new for FIFA 13 that directly affects gameplay is Complete Dribbling. Although this feature is considered new, it is really just a perfected incarnation of the Precision Dribbling system found in last year’s game. Complete Dribbling takes a cue from FIFA Street in order to give gamers a more free dribbling experience. Holding down both triggers while dribbling the ball gives players complete mobility and full control even over the slightest of movements. Having more control of the ball is obviously a welcome feature that really helps players maintain possession even when faced with a group of opponents.
EA Sports also made minor changes to the Player Impact Engine. The feature introduced last year now is more realistic. Players can use their bodies to shield opponents. A greater sense of weight and strength makes collisions between footballers more lifelike.
While no other changes have an impact on gameplay in FIFA 13, there are more dynamic improvements that make this football sim one of the best sports games of the current generation of consoles.
EA Sports Football Club Match Day introduces the franchise to the increasingly popular idea of blending real life performance with the virtual experience. While Madden has Dynamic Player Performance and NBA 2K has NBA Today, FIFA now has Match Day. This connects footballers in the game to their real world counterparts by factoring in things like hot and cold streaks, injuries and suspensions. Commentators in the game will be aware of and mention any real world drama. It is a really interesting feature that reaches the next level of real world/virtual world crossovers.
While veteran players will have no problem perfecting even the most intricate controls in FIFA 13, a new set of mini-games helps more casual gamers learn the finer points of the game. Skills Games is a collection of 32 mini-games aimed to let players hone their skills in a fun way. Players go through a set of drills revolving around a particular skill such as lob passing or dribbling. One drill has the player attempting to make a pass into a set of trash cans that are on the field. In another mini-game, players must kick the ball through targets into the goal.
Skills Games is a game mode that can be played at any time but the drills can also be done via the pre-game loading screen. While it is not the most unique addition to the game, it does add some unexpected extra excitement to the loading screens. If anything, it’s a great chance to practice some dribbling and shooting in addition to keeping yourself entertained.
Of course, all the typical game modes are also included. Gamers can create a player, attempt to win a tournament, and participate in a season. Career Mode is back and it is mostly the same experience. However, international play is added so players can represent their countries and national teams can be managed. Transfer logic has also been improved to ensure players will be worth their actual market value.
FIFA Ultimate Team is the most addicting game mode. In Ultimate Team, players are given a starter pack to build a team from the ground up. As wins are racked up and points pour in, gamers earn more points towards new packs. The more expensive packs contain better players. It brings back great memories of old school trading card collecting but modernized.
The game features 30 leagues, 500 clubs, and 15,000 players. Personally, I was disappointed to see Didier Drogba was no longer available for Ultimate Team because he transferred to a Chinese league that is not affiliated with FIFA. However, he is included on the Ivory Coast international team in the game.
Overall, FIFA 13 is one of the most polished sports games ever. While the game did not undergo a huge amount of changes, developers were able to tweak it enough to make it worth the price tag. FIFA 13 features realistic improvements to controls. Those changes combined with the stunning visuals, excellent commentary and multitude of game modes make FIFA 13 the ultimate football experience.
FIFA 13 is in stores now.