FIFA 13 Review

Platform: PS3/360/PC
Originally Reviewed: 2012

Last year, I praised FIFA 12 extremely highly. I was wowed by the ridiculous amount of modes, both online and offline, the new style of realistic defending and the addition of new physics that needed improvement but had potential. This year’s FIFA proves that potential is great, but if you do little to realise that potential a year later and it seems like you’ve barely changed at all then…well, then you’re Mario Ballotelli.

The most telling place to find where the game hasn’t really changed is in the way it looks. We here at AWIY have often mentioned our feelings of generation fatigue and FIFA 13 is a prime example of what we’re talking about. It’s pretty obvious the game will never look any better than this. And it doesn’t look very nice any more. The crowds still look awful, there’s still far too many horrible-looking generic player models and the overall graphical style is beginning to look very dated indeed.

The commentary is also horrible. On the whole it’s not disastrous, but there is a lot of the same stuff from last year and most of the new additions are just broken. Matches begin with discussions on how a certain player may be injured or dropped and most of the time this makes no sense. Defenders are described as forwards, ‘new signings’ are most likely not new at all and starting a match talking about a single player rather than a team just sounds weird. The commentary team have also, on several occasions, described a goal I conceded as if I’d just scored it and also have no idea that my defender getting fouled in my box is not my penalty.

EA Canada has improved some of the animations, although the new full-on sprinting animation looks like the players have “done a Gary Lineker”. But there are some really cool crosses, volleys and dinked passes now on show. This, however, is contrasted by the addition of the ‘elephant touch’ as it shall now be known. EA have boasted about this new gameplay feature where players no longer have instant control of the ball, making it easier for defenders to retrieve possession.

They make it sound good, but it’s not really a lot of fun. Was anyone actually complaining about the ball control in FIFA 12? Instant control was a level playing field – everyone benefitted. But making passing into a seemingly random lottery where even the simplest short pass can cannon off the shins, knees or arse of some of the world’s greatest talents can be maddening. Make the ball control animations better – fine. Make long passes or passes in the rain harder to control – fine. But a straight pass to feet should not be as difficult as FIFA 13 makes it look. Warning: don’t ever pass the ball back to your ‘keeper.

When you combine the elephant touch with the impact engine, you can be forgiven for thinking that some matches are taking place in a circus (or the SPL – take your pick). Passes bouncing off shins, players running into each other and collapsing in a heap, you getting booked because an AI player fell over you – the beautiful game it is not. Taking control away from the player is not a good way to go about things, but EA is claiming it as their flagship improvement.

So where has FIFA 13 improved? For real this time? Well, the tired arena loading screen has thankfully disappeared and been replaced by some brilliantly addictive skill games including everyone’s park favourite – the cross bar challenge. Although you don’t have to go in goal first if you hit the bar last.

The AI of strikers and attacking players has also been drastically improved so they now make intelligent runs and stray offside less. Some of the new pass animations add to how cool it can look to see a support striker peel off and draw a defender out of position as you play an outside of the boot through ball to a player making a brilliantly timed dart for the penalty area.

It’s not just a few gameplay improvements though. Ultimate Team has been tweaked to now include single player and online seasons, meaning that playing single meaningless matches is gone and every game counts towards promotion or relegation. It definitely keeps the game interesting. Thankfully Live Season, or EA Matchday as it’s now called, is now finally free and actually works this time – unlike last year. It’s nice to get a new FIFA game for £45 and not immediately have to shell out 800MP to update the bloody thing.

EA Sports FC has also been expanded to now include a catalogue of unlockable goodies and enhancements to obtain through continued levelling up. Although any initial excitement at the inclusion of retro kits will be quickly dashed by all of them being rubbish. The SpVgg Greüther Furth kit from 1908 anyone?

The main problem with FIFA 13, and indeed reviewing it, is that it’s a very subjective franchise. Most people love it and have their own way of playing, yet most people also have little things they hate about the game. When you get your hands on the newest version and it plays the same as you remember and enjoy it’s a relief, as thinking of how you personally could improve on probably the best football game ever is pretty tough going. But when you grab a brand new game still riddled with those teensy tiny little problems from the year before it’s easy, and perhaps slightly warranted, to feel frustrated.

The menus are still confusing, team management with a buddy sat next to you is still a total pain in the backside, you still can’t change tactics when the ball is out of play, the switch player button still sometimes refuses to do its job, you can’t stop a player screaming after a loose ball to needlessly concede a corner and career mode is still pretty boring.

The replay theatre too is still a complete joke. You can spend 15 minutes editing a goal highlight to look all swanky and then watch it back in extreme crap-o-vision. On an HD console, why are saved replays reduced to a tiny box and the quality equivalent to filming it on a potato? Needless to say you could probably pick about 20 things from FIFA 12 that annoyed you and they would probably still be there.

FIFA 13 can be summarised with two questions. Has it improved much? No. Is it still the best football game on the market? Absolutely it is. Ultimate Team is still completely and brilliantly addictive, the matches are still fast paced and exciting and FIFA is still the staple of offline multiplayer gaming. It’s just a shame to realise that this is as good as FIFA can really get at this time. All that’s needed now is some powerful new hardware to meet EA Canada’s high ambitions of creating the perfect football game because at the moment they’re still not quite there.

Alex Aldridge

GRAPHICS

FIFA is really starting to creak under the old hardware. Absolutely no improvement on last year and still suffers from the same faults.

7/10

GAMEPLAY

It’s very similar in feel to last year. AI improvements balance against awkward new ball control tweaks. It’s still the best football simulation out there but hasn’t improved enough.

8/10

STORY

The career mode still feels like it’s lacking something to give an experience that’s truly gripping.

3/10

REPLAYABILITY

This will most likely last you all year. When it’s all said and done, what gaming night doesn’t have time for a quick game of FIFA?

9/10

VALUE FOR MONEY AT

If you can get the ultimate edition for an extra fiver then do it now while it’s still worth it. There is so much to do in FIFA 13 you will always get your money’s worth.

£40

OVERALL

How do you improve on the greatest football game ever? Very slightly so that not a lot of people notice. As a package the game has definitely improved, but as a gameplay experience it’s undoubtedly more subjective. Still plays a great game, but we expected more.

8/10

GREAT

 

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