• Once again it’s that time of the year where EA Sports and Konami battle it out to own the most purchased football franchise across the world. Let’s be honest about this, the game from the Japanese stable hasn’t been able to hold a candle to the superiority of the all consuming EA giant so we expect more and more with each iteration of the franchise, but this year seems to be a little different.

    Subtlety seems to be the order of the day with FIFA 13 over its predecessor; little tweaks, which in essence bring a new feel to the beautiful game. It has a sometimes random and unpredictable feel that is sometimes more than a little annoying but as anyone who is a fan of the real game will know is realistic.

    One of the major updates in terms of gameplay is the first touch or lack of it! In previous games players of almost any skill level could control the ball that had been pinged at them from 50 yards before continuing at pace towards goal. This time it depends on the skill of the player and the flight of the ball being two factors in where the ball will go or the deftness of the touch from the player. So Leo Messi will still be able to almost all of the time be able to bring the ball down before bamboozling his opponent with skill, but someone from the Korean League would see the ball ricochet off his knee before going out for a throw in. It’s an annoying realism, which is forgivable, and an indication of the fine-tuning that has been implemented by EA Sports.

    Deflections off opponents are far more frequent, tackles seem to be more robust and realistic, also more importantly, the referees don’t seem to pull yellow and red cards out with as much abandon as previous games. Things seem to be a little more measured from the men in the middle but there is still the odd strange decision, however it has been said in the past that the men at the games governing body whom which the console title is named, refuse to let the officials make ‘mistakes’ officially. So there is little leeway when it comes to players in offside positions and they are excruciatingly pixel precise decisions, but to temper that annoying precision the strikers now have the ability to hold their runs to avoid the assistant referee raising his flag. Obviously it doesn’t always work but it’s another nice touch to raise the realism bar that bit further.

    FIFA 12 was accused by some of being too robotic, where it seemed a predetermined path was made and it was all to easy to see who would win the ball with it’s new tactical defending options. Bringing extra defenders in to jockey the attacker before stepping in and sweeping away with the ball, yes the options in the gameplay are still there but the ‘tactical attacking’ and intelligence of the AI seems to have neutralized that defensive strength which previously gave the back four an arguably more weighted sense of ability.

    The tweaks off field too have a similar feel to them; things aren’t too different to what they were last year but have been improved. Ultimate Team has been tweaked but still has all the options that has made it a massive pull since it’s introduction to the series a couple of years back. Worryingly though there seems to be people still trying to exploit the UT mode and hacking accounts but EA are strengthening their position on this and closing the net on them as the fraudsters look for new ways to get your account details with promises of UT currency on offer. But that said this mode seems to be becoming a bit of a monster as interest in the mode has grown seemingly ten fold at least.

    ‘Seasons’ mode is a tweak on the head to head seasons that previously was introduced.  It’s still essentially the same format with your team skill increasing as you progress through the divisions so the matchmaking of your opponents online is made accordingly to that skill level. It works well but there have been some early glitches and issues with the game freezing but EA have announced a patch to be introduced to eradicate these issues. The biggest change with the seasons mode is the Pro clubs element.  As with previous titles the league or cup games with your club didn’t really feel as though they were getting you anywhere so EA have cleverly aligned pro clubs with seasons and promotion and relegation is possible and yes, your pro club’s players get better the further up the ladder you go.

    Offline modes are essentially the same but for one change of note, with career modes and manager modes still in tact however you can progress to represent or manage your country rather than just teams at club level.

    Graphically the game isn’t too different with facial likenesses being of good quality for the top players, and the music in the game has the usual eclectic mix of music from Reverend and the Makers to Flo-Rida.  The in-game commentary team has been added to with pitch-side reporting on injuries and latest scores coming in from other games whilst playing in career mode is a nice touch, even though some of the scores being read out do seem a little ‘wooden’ at times.

    Overall it’s a solid game and it really does push where football titles can go next. Pro Evolution Soccer was previously said to be the game that real footballers played, as it had the true feel of football and FIFA was robotic and formulaic but since that trend was bucked around three years ago EA have built on it and left Konami scrambling around in the dirt.  It would be remiss of us to say that FIFA 13 is the perfect recreation of the sport, but it’s very close to it.

    [raw]
    [row_box style=”grid_8 wpc_verdict”]
    The TotallyGN Verdict
    [col_1_3]
    [bullets]

    • Realistic first touch
    • It ‘feels’ like football should
    • It is possibly too much like a sim rather than a game

    [/bullets]
    [/col_1_3]
    [col_2_3]

    Summary:

    A step forward for the series, some of the tweaks truly enhance the experience and it is the ONLY game for the discerning football supporter.

    [note class=”alignright”]9.5[/note]
    [/col_2_3]
    [divider_space_thin]
    [/row_box]
    [list]

    • Format: Xbox360
    • Developer: EA Canada
    • Publisher: EA
    • Release Date: 9/25/2012

    [/list]
    [clear]
    [/raw]

    About The Author