FIFA 13 review
With FIFA 13, it all kicks off again. The seemingly endless struggle between EA’s FIFA and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer has been a one-sided affair lately, with the once-dominant PES occupying the role of lower-league minnow while the more established veteran FIFA slips effortlessly into the shirt of the Premier League victor.
However, PES has undergone a drastic squad restructuring in this year’s edition, which puts the pressure on the current champion to remain top of the division. Has EA done enough to retain the crown, or has FIFA reached its peak? We’re slipping on our boots and finding out.
It almost goes without saying that FIFA 13 looks and sounds amazing – football games have been eye-poppingly good-looking for quite a few years now. However, it’s worth mentioning that during our review (of the Xbox 360 edition), several people who entered the room were convinced that it was an actual game of football taking place on the TV screen, rather than a simulation. Take from that what you will.
Amazing visuals aren’t going to win the cup this year, though – and EA is thankfully well aware of this truth. In FIFA 13’s backroom, there have been some significant changes, as well as some enhancements of existing features. The Ultimate Team mode continues to be the main attraction, but it’s joined by a new Skill Games section which takes a leaf out of iOS’ book by offering short, bite-sized challenges which are also used to keep you occupied when you’re waiting for a game to load.
As well as offering you plenty of game modes to mess about with, FIFA 13 also boasts the most deep and satisfying game engine yet seen in a football game – something that has no doubt been of particular annoyance to Konami in recent years. Refinements from last year – such as Tactical Defending and the Impact Engine – return for a new season, but they’re joined by First Touch Control (which uses each player’s stats and the situation in which they receive the ball to determine if their first touch is golden or clumsy) and improved close-quarters control, something which builds upon the Precision Dribbling seen in FIFA 12.
Check out our video review of FIFA 13 now
If you’re going to level any criticism at FIFA 13 then you could point out that despite the changes, it doesn’t feel massively different from what we enjoyed last year. It’s an almost unavoidable issue when you have a franchise which relentlessly updates itself every twelve months, but one that is worth bearing in mind if you’re shopping on a budget or trying to justify the purchase when there are so many other Triple A titles on store shelves. If you’re a casual fan rather than a FIFA addict, you won’t miss a massive amount by skipping this year’s entry.
It’s also possible that newcomers to the series may be slightly put off by the massive changes made in recent years; while the increased complexity of FIFA’s defensive and offensive modes is very welcome, it makes the game harder to get into than ever – something which never would have happened a few years back, when EA prided itself on accessibility in the face of PES’ ‘hardcore’ ethos. Of course, what this means is that once you’ve put a bit of effort in, the game really opens up, and becomes considerably more engrossing than any of its rivals.
The bottom line
We really thought that this year would mark a return to the status quo, with PES once again scaling the heights of football superstardom and FIFA dropping down the rankings. Despite Konami’s staff working like demons to bring its series up to speed, the Herculean efforts haven’t been enough to close the gap. FIFA 13 is arguably the best version of the game yet, which is a considerable achievement when you consider that it’s almost twenty years old now. With more modes than ever before and the most refined and rewarding football engine ever committed to code, FIFA once again storms to the top of the league and PES is left holding the runners-up trophy. Better luck next year, Konami.
5 out of 5
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