"EA Scores Another Goal"
When it comes to yearly sports titles, no game can match the level of success both critically and commercially of the FIFA series. Even when you venture outside the virtual sports playground and jump into the overall games market, FIFA stands on its own as one of the best games released annually. This year's version, FIFA Soccer 13 (aka FIFA 13 in other regions), has only made slight tweaks to the overall game. You know the game will be good, but is it worth the purchase price if you have FIFA 12?
Overall, the game handles as well as you'd expect, with the exception of two big changes: first-touch control and enhanced A.I. First touch control is exactly what the name implies, as a player's skill level matters more than ever when it comes to how they handle and react to the ball. Lionel Messi's deft touch with chips and through balls are evident, as is his ability to receive the ball from his teammates on passes and the footwork he uses to dance around defenders. Now of course, there are few players in the world as talented as Messi, and attempting to pull off more skilled moves with lesser talents will likely result in a loss of possession. It definitely takes a little time to get used to, but once you know exactly what players can and can't do, the learning curve starts to disappear.
The second big addition to FIFA Soccer 13 is the difference in the system A.I., both with your computer-controlled teammates and opponents. The A.I. has been improved to the point where players will now dynamically react to the situation and analyze where they need to go on offense. The days of you getting frustrated at your teammates for not being in the right spots, or running to a useless part of the pitch should mostly be gone now. Combine this with the first touch control, and you now have more ability than ever to set up any kind of offensive play that you wish. Now, the game does seem to favor the offensive side of the game more than the defensive end this year, as it seems to be a little easier to score goals than in previous years, but the defensive A.I. has been tweaked as well. Defenders are rarely caught out of position and do make the correct plays more often than not, but it's obvious that the development team spent more time on getting more scoring into the game. I'd expect that next year will bring a larger focus on the defensive side of the ball, but until then, you can expect to be in more than a few games where the last goal scored could decide the winner.
When EA released FIFA last year, it was the first year of their Player Impact Engine, which the designers claimed would be a revolutionary change to the way players interacted with each other, including collisions and tackles. For the most part, the system worked well, aside from a few instances of players tripping and falling needlessly over each other. This year, the engine has been improved and the end result is a more realistic game of footy. The players have an increased sense of weight and proportion to them now that they haven't had before. Speedsters like Neymar have their obvious advantages, as do behemoths like Andy Carroll and Didier Drogba, and it'll be up to you to decide which play style you enjoy more and can succeed with.
The presentation hasn't changed much at all in recent years, and the same can be said for FIFA 13. The game looks good, and with the improvements to the Player Impact Engine, the animations don't feel forced and canned like they did a few years ago. Teams, players and tons of stadiums are faithfully recreated, and EA's Creation Center allows anyone to design their own teams, complete with rosters and a venue that don't feel out of place when compared to the legitimate professional clubs. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith are back to provide the audio commentary, and they do an admirable job. Players who have been with the series for a few years will recognize some of the same lines of dialogue, but they avoid the trap of being annoying throughout the game.
As good as the game is on the pitch, the modes of play in FIFA Soccer 13 are what makes it stand out. If you like to focus on a single-player experience, load up Be A Pro. Career mode allows you to play and manage an entire team over several seasons, including the teams you've created in the Creation Center. FIFA Ultimate Team is back, letting you buy and sell cards of your players with other users online, play in tournaments and competitions on a weekly and monthly basis, and you can even manage your team on the go with a special app for your iPhone, available free of charge. Skill games have also been introduced as a way to get people started, but they are a shockingly fun diversion from the main action of the game, and they are littered throughout the game's regular modes in the loading screens as well. Throw in regular matches and online play with a large community of soccer fanatics, and there's no shortage of things to keep you busy in this year's game.
FIFA 13 isn't loaded with new features, but it didn't need to be. There's something for everyone with the plethora of game modes and options, and EA knows that the hardcore fans of the series and professional footy will pick up the game. For others who may have bought the game last year and are on the fence, a purchase is probably not necessary, but make no mistake, FIFA Soccer 13 is another world-class entry in the series.
GameDynamo's Score for FIFA Soccer 13 (PS3)
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A lifelong Nintendo fan and sports junkie, Adam is from Toronto and a proud Canadian. If he's not writing or playing games, you can probably find him on the golf course.
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