Fifa 13 has been out for several weeks now, and over the weekends that I’ve played it on the Xbox, I have to say it’s quite a big leap from the usual annual releases of the popular football game from EA Sports.
The promise is that every match is not the same, as the sheer variety of reactions to on-pitch situations produces unpredictable matches.
That’s not an idle boast, because skills that have been so hard to imitate, like ball control and off-the-ball running, have been quite nicely replicated here in Fifa 13.
The first touch, for example, is all important. You can take the ball quickly, swivel into space and get a shot away, or simply hold on to it and wait for support from team mates. Either way, this new feature gives a whole lot more control to individual players on the pitch.
Speaking of which, players reflect their real-world characters pretty well. With the game’s Career mode, I chose to play as Wayne Rooney in every Manchester United match, and it’s a pretty close match to what you see on the telly.
He is stocky and powerful in his runs, but rather runs out of breath if you push him too hard. He’s also got no issue when it comes to brushing opponents off the ball, given his oft-mentioned boxer physique.
If you pick, say, Lionel Messi, I’m sure the movement will be much different. The smaller player is blessed with agility and quick turns of pace in the real world, and the Fifa 13 “cover player” should do no differently in the game.
What I also like about Fifa 13 is the off-the-ball tussling that goes on, say, when corners are being taken. Instead of standing still, players look for space to move into – or block others from getting into space.
During corners, you often can make zig zag runs into the box to get away from defenders. Just beware of running into the shape of John Terry or other burly central defenders when doing so.
I also like the smarts displayed by the AI (artificial intelligence) players. They try to move into space when they see that you can offer a pass. Again, this makes for a lot more intuitive gameplay that resembles how the game is played in real life.
Player animation is top-notch, as you’d expect from a Fifa title. Cristiano Ronaldo does look like the shiny-haired vain pot that he is – complete with amazing dribbling skills. And his opposite number Messi appears like the cherub he is loved for.
All in, Fifa 13 is a nice upgrade from last year’s game. This year’s edition has enough new features that make it worth buying and spending several hours on.