The newest FIFA title from EA Sports, FIFA 13 , comes across as being similar to the previous instalment. And that is a good thing.
With sequels, you have the option of wildly changing things around to keep the game fresh at the risk of losing the things that made it work in the first place, or playing it safe and tweaking, instead of remaking the game. FIFA 12 was the first type of sequel, and it was definitely needed—the games had started becoming repetitive, and there was a challenge from games such as Pro Evolution Soccer .
After shaking things up, it makes sense to take out time to refine the formula and make the most of the distance gained last year, before going in for a more drastic overhaul.
In terms of the gameplay, it’s similar to the last instalment; so if you already have that, you might want to save your money for a different type of game. There is a slight learning curve to more complicated manoeuvres and feints, but you can quickly pick up and play the game.
The game continues to improve visually at a steady pace—it’s great-looking, possibly the best of its kind. The way the players run, pass and tackle looks believable, although the commentary is a little tiresome.
Commentary is another aspect which has improved over the years, with more dialogue being recorded so you don’t hear the same lines a thousand times in the course of a single game.
There are some Kinect-specific functions for Xbox 360 owners, but since we were testing the game using a PC, we could not check these additional features. The game can use audio inputs from the Kinect to change tactics of formations without pausing the game, which sounds like a great idea, because the menus you use to change these settings are not smooth.
Apparently, if the game hears you cursing referees in Career mode, this will also open up storylines.
It helps that your teammates also seem to behave more intelligently—it’s hard to call something like this, but it seemed to be a better experience.
There are all the modes from last time as well—you have Career mode, Pro Club Seasons, EA Sports Football Club and Ultimate Team mode, which let you build and manage teams in different ways.
Ultimate Team is particularly enjoyable—you can create your own team from scratch, trade players and build your way up to an unstoppable team of A-listers. Completing challenges to unlock better players is pretty important because the stats of the players you control really do have an impact on the way they handle in-game.
A great new addition is skill games—it is essentially a training mode, which is presented as a series of challenges instead. Playing through, the skill games will improve your overall gameplay, but aside from that, the mode is enjoyable by itself. If you don’t feel like playing through a full match, the skill games are a fun diversion.
Free kick challenges also pop up when you’re waiting for a match to start, though they’re optional. Challenges cover the different facets of gameplay, such as shooting, passing, free kicks, penalties and more. They have different levels, and become more difficult as you earn medals.
The game sticks with the tried and tested formula; it’s gotten faster, and more enjoyable. The action moves across the field with greater fluidity than before—these kinds of tweaks elevate the already enjoyable FIFA 12 .
It’s not a massive step up, but the game has improved in many small ways—changes you can feel as you play. The improvements to dribbling, in particular, can make the game more strategic than previous iterations. These changes have come from the FIFA Street games, a sort of test bed for innovation for the franchise.
While the improvements are incremental, EA can’t be blamed, particularly after the big shift they made last year. The annual development cycle that sports games have limits the options available for their creators, but as the end user who is expected to put down his own money, that doesn’t really matter. If you bought the last instalment, it’s safe to skip FIFA 13 —if you’re interested in the genre though, or missed the big change in FIFA last year, then you should play this game.
FIFA 13 by EA Sports is available for PC ( Rs. 1,499), PS3 and Xbox 360 ( Rs. 2,999) . The version tested for the review was the PC version.