Review: Fifa 13

Students rejoice! The most anticipated game of the year – until the next most anticipated game of the year – is here. Many hours may proceed to be wasted attempting to get a FIFA 13 apology from your mate so that your superiority is evident for all of Facebook to see.

Playing that perfect pass. Placing the ball perfectly in the corner of the net. Spinning past a dazed defender. These are the things that FIFA is all about.

In FIFA 13 however, there are several changes that will affect the way the game is played. The new ‘first touch’ system has added a degree of difficulty. No longer does Jay Spearing have the same first touch as Andrés Iniesta, and rightfully so. You now need to think before you play that 40 yard lofted through-ball, is it a David Silva on the other end? Or are you trying to make the killer ball through to an Emile Heskey, on the 1 in 100 chance that he’ll get lucky and bring the ball down before a defender inevitably catches him?

EA describe the new feature as “unpredictable but not random” and it really adds a new dimension to the game. More often than not the simple pass is what is required to maintain possession and look for a better opening, rather than risking it all on a Hollywood ball. While some may grumble that it slows the game down, really it just adds a new layer of complexity increasing the challenge of playing sexy football.

Alongside the first touch system the key changes revolve around improved attacking intelligence, complete dribbling and a refined physics engine. These, when combined, amount to a leap in both the quality and fluidity of football that you can play. Now when you get the ball you are able to use complete dribbling to square up to the defender, hold up the play and wait for your AI teammates to make improved runs into space before playing the pass.

While the defenders use the refined physics engine which aids to balance the attacking improvements by utilising the refined ability to push, pull and generally out-strength their opponents far more effectively than in FIFA 12. Though more often than not this results in handing free kicks to the opponent and collecting yellow cards.

Essentially the new and refined features increases the types of goals that you can score, no longer is the finesse shot into the corner when given any amount of space going to result in a goal 9/10 times.

Skill games are another welcome feature; they revolve around 8 facets of the game: shooting, advanced shooting, dribbling, free kicks, penalties, ground pass, lob pass and crossing. Helping those less adept improve their ability with the bronze and silver challenges while the gold and skill challenge will help more advanced FIFA players hone their trade – even nudging some towards using manual controls for even greater control, or much less in my case. This new feature is great fun; especially the advance shooting (1v2 attacking scenarios) and lob pass (football tennis!) skills challenges.

This review has not attempted to compare the game to its only real rival, Pro Evolution Soccer (Soccer, really?). I respect everyone’s right to have an opinion, however, if you’re of the opinion that Pro Evo is better than FIFA, then you’re just wrong. FIFA 13 again builds on the solid foundations of last years release and, despite little graphical improvement, the addition of first touch unpredictability along with the refinements to the physics engine makes it the only choice for football fans.

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