Each year, EA Sports brings the world their footballing game, FIFA. The last installment FIFA 12, brought in a raft of changes with the biggest being a brand new engine called the “impact engine”. This was trumpeted as the next generation of realistic movement and collisions. The results were less than brilliant, angering many people and creating more than a few videos that showed the players in unflattering positions. The New Year brings the next game, FIFA 13 and promises to bring in new features while improving on the previous ones.
Straight from start-up screen, it looks like last year’s version. The menus, the arena mode (a place to practice your skills, shooting, crossing and many other things with a player of your choice) are all reminiscent of the older games. This is no bad thing, these allow easy access to all the features of the game while showing off some of the (minor) graphical increases. With a new deal for the world’s best player Lionel Messi having been done this year, it means he is everywhere in the game, from the box to the default player in arena mode which is also a clever idea as he is the most skillful and easy to use player in the game, great for new comers.
Game-play wise there are some issues unfortunately. The impact engine has not really been improved all that much as it still creates problems if the players get tangled, leaving them stuck on the floor for an annoying length of time. A rather humorous issue occurred while playing with friends, David Silva picking up the ball for a throw-in only to have been tackled and got stuck in between trying to throw the ball and get into position, leading to the player, ball in hand, running aimlessly across the pitch, unable to carry on the game. Needless to say, it made us cry with laughter, but after the fifth or sixth time or online in a competitive game, it becomes a distinct annoyance. Another feature of this game is the first touch control. This means that, depending on the skill level of players, speed that the ball was passed and the direction it has been passed the player will either control the ball or in many cases tap it too far ahead or kick it out randomly. A point for realistic game-play but means you want to throw your controller at the wall with lower level players.
The game features many game modes, each fleshed out enough to keep you busy for weeks. The career mode features options to make your own player and when it is time to retire, become a manager or to just start out as a manager from the off. The manager mode has its own transfers and calendar and now includes the option for international management if you become a high profile manager. Other modes include kick-off, which is for quick games or party games, choosing any team you want against anyone you want and online season, where you play in divisions and get enough points to move up to a harder division or get relegated. The main pull of the game is Ultimate team. Introduced as a DLC to the last few games, it has been integrated into the game for release and it is brilliant. Buying and selling player or manager cards for in game money to build the best team or your own dream team is great and is neatly done. A version of the online season mode has been put in while the ability to compete offline and online for trophies or playing against friends really makes this mode more deep and addictive than the career mode. Added to this are auction apps for player cards on the app store and an online app to build your team and then show it off on Facebook make it easier to be more mobile with the game.
Unfortunately the game suffers greatly from server problems and regular “maintenance” from EA meaning that entering a game and staying in one is an effort, this would be the main thing that I would want improved on in the next game as it has been a running problem throughout the series.
In terms of game-modes and the layout, EA have excelled yet again, pushing themselves further ahead of the rival football game Pro Evolution. But the game will continue to be hampered by niggling online and offline problems. Once these are sorted, nothing can stop the rise and rise of the series.