Football, or soccer (depending on which term you prefer), is one of the world’s most watched sports and generates millions in revenue for teams that participate in various leagues and cups. Given this level of world-wide appeal and success, it is only natural that a video game would also be successful.
One of the best-known football video game franchises is the FIFA titles. For many years these games have been top sellers within the genre. The franchise has slight competition in the form of Pro Evolution Soccer, but it has never really managed to steal FIFA’s crown.
With the launch of the latest title, FIFA 13, developer Electronic Arts really pulled out all the stops and has spared no expense in delivering - yet again - one of the best football games on the market.
A number of changes have been made and while not all are for the best, the overall title is near perfection.
The first thing that users will notice is that the menu system has been updated and only vaguely resembles the uniformity of previous EA sports titles. The menu system can be a bit confusing to navigate at first, but after digging through each option, users will soon learn where everything is.
This year a heavy focus has been placed on online play and integrating multiplayer and online interaction into the title. Almost everything that players do will have some impact on point awarding, standings or online scoring.
The main focus of the game (while not really advertised) is the Career Mode. This feature offers gamers the opportunity to take control of a player and guide them through their career at their chosen football club.
Gamers will be able to create a new character, play with an existing professional or create a character using EA’s GameFace mode. In GameFace players upload their own faces into the game, which is then placed on an in-game character. The system works well with minor glitches -compared to the previous Tiger Woods title, but EA decided to omit the option to add facial hair to a GameFace character.
The result being a person with a beard or moustache will have a feint shadow where the facial hair should be, but will predominately look like they are clean shaven. It is not ideal, but then again, users will not really see the faces of their players when these players are competing on the pitch!
While the stadium practice area has been retained during loading screens, EA opted to add Skills Challenges into the mix. Players will be given drills of varying levels of difficulty such as passing, dribbling, shooting and crossing – which will award them with XP points. These XP points go towards a player’s rank and the higher the rank, the more items the player unlocks for use in the game.
It is slightly annoying to go through the skills challenges and actually serves no purpose. Sure it helps players hone their skills, but seasoned players already know all the moves or have their own style of playing, which means the Skills Challenges are just a waste of time then.
In terms of graphics, EA has once again proven that they can improve on every year’s graphical detail. The level of detail is very good, with small visible factors that make the game believable. The only problem is that unscripted movement, such as goal celebrations, tend to look a bit forced and animated.
Thanks to EA’s Hospitality Settings, the control scheme has stayed the same, but users can change the system to suit their play style. But the majority of the changes in the game happen in the back-end of the title.
For the first time the FIFA franchise has introduced the First Touch Control system. This system enables users take more control over the ball and the character’s movement. A bunch of new dribble and skill moves have been inserted in the game, giving players the opportunity to truly out-class their opponents.
Without delving too much into the Multiplayer section, the usual suspect modes are included such as online head-to-head, team play and leagues. Players will now be able to contribute points towards their favourite club by just playing matches, which is then tallied and determines the club’s virtual worldwide standing.
Speaking of clubs, players can choose to participate in 30 of the world’s best leagues, which will give them access to all the clubs as well as 46 international teams.
While the media has been saying it every year, this year’s iteration is truly one of the best football games on the market. The gameplay has been slightly changed for the better, the graphics have been given a stiff update and the controls have stayed the same. The gameplay is as immersive as ever, and what would a FIFA game be without the commentary of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith?
Our score: 8.9/10
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor