FIFA 13 Review
What’s the biggest and best new addition to FIFA 13? Well, it’s a subtraction, actually.
No longer do we have Wayne “Pretty Boy” Rooney’s face staring at us all the time when the game is loaded up. Instead we’re now met with the handsome young face of one Lionel Messi.
It’s a big change, we have to admit. Alright, that’s possibly slightly facetious on our part, as EA Canada has once again gone out of its way to improve and iterate upon what came last year.
As it did the time before, the time before, the time before, and so on and so forth. But unlike last year where these changes resulted in the rather divisive addition of ‘tactical defending’, FIFA 13 instead sees us returning to the realm of smaller, more iterative updates.
There’s no knockout punch feature that makes this a must-buy for owners of the last game, nor is there enough to draw back lapsed fans who might have given up.
There’s still a damn good game of football, though. There’s still the chance to take part in some beautiful, flowing and satisfying kick-ball. There’s still the satisfaction of sneaking that last-minute flukey winner you absolutely did not deserve.
There’s still Tony Hibbert. Still, back to those changes. The big one this year is the first-touch control system, which makes for more realistic takes by players when the ball comes to them.
The changes tp tactical defending are among FIFA 13’s finest additions.
In practice? Well, it means sometimes they miscontrol it. And sometimes it happens for no discernible reason. It adds a touch (pun!) of realism, no doubt, but it also adds something we sort of assumed existed anyway in the game for years.
Who knew? But the best improvement (that’s barely been talked about) we can think of is the modification to tactical defending.
While last year it broke the experience for many (regardless of EA’s “95 per cent of players preferred it” non-scientific random number nonsense), this year it has had systems built up around it to support the framework introduced in FIFA 12.
While last time out you would see defenders stabbing their feet aimlessly in whatever direction they were facing, this time around they make the effort to at least swing in the direction of the player they’re trying to tackle. It’s the little things.
Not only do they lunge better, but there’s a push and pull system that – when used intelligently – can impact seriously on the effectiveness of your defence or attack, and the simple act of muscling a smaller player off the ball is far more natural a process than it was before.
Basically it seems as though problems introduced last time around have been fixed – whether that’s a totally good thing, we’re not entirely sure (should the problems exist in the first place? Hmm).
FIFA 13 retains EA’s edge in the visual department.
Then there are other little nips and tucks that make attacking a more rounded process. Close control dribbling has been included, brought in from FIFA Street (though toned down, naturally) and allowing players to face up to defenders all the time while holding onto the ball.
Then there’s swifter, sometimes-automatic implementation of neater control when approaching the edge of the opposition half, meaning the players that can – your Ibrahimovic and Agueros of the world – can skip through defenders if those controlling them are quick enough on the sticks.
It’s well-balanced against the new defensive initiatives to help make neither side of the coin feel overpowered. And the middle of the park? Well, it feels as irrelevant and ignored as it always has in FIFA.
The fact this is the better game than last year’s FIFA 12 may make for confusing reading when scores are compared.
But while the improvements are there – they are both necessary and well implemented – backing it all up is a game that just isn’t changing in any real way.
And that introduces more confusion: does EA need to mix things up a great deal to justify these yearly, full-price releases? Maybe it’s the fatigue of this generation catching up with us.
Maybe it’s an irritation with the iterative process of updates – and the fact you’re expected to shell out full price every time for what could realistically be called a patch (admittedly, it would be a content-rich patch).
Do you feel bored by FIFA, or do you think it’s gameplay is just about right?
Maybe we’re just getting a bit bored of playing the same old FIFA. Maybe the series needs a PES-style kick up the backside to push it into action so it can be truly great again. Maybe this, maybe that. The fact of the matter is FIFA 13 is brilliant fun, noted complaints aside.
It’s just this time around the competition has done a fine job of highlighting the cracks and seams in EA’s patchwork of updates and ideas. FIFA’s still great, but it has to be looking over its shoulder more than it has been in recent years.