It’s getting closer to that time of the year when the new soccer video games arrive. And now that EA has released the demo for FIFA 13, I think there will be a clear cut choice as to what game I am getting this autumn.
Although it’s only a demo, EA looks like it’s heading in the same direction as they did with their Madden series in an attempt to overhaul parts of the game so that it doesn’t feel so much like a roster update.
So, what’s in the game?
You get to play as Manchester City, Arsenal, Juventus, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund in the demo, and experience EA SPORTS Football Club Match Day, which is a really cool feature that will let you play with the ‘same experience’ as the real world news and gossip. You will hear commentators talk about players who have been transfer listed, who are on the bench, injuries, and any other bits and pieces that can be reflected in-game. Also you will see players who are hot/cold and its effects on their gameplay. You do however have the choice to turn this feature off, but I would really encourage anyone playing to try this feature.
Graphically speaking, the player faces looks a little sharper this year in the demo and a little less plastic. But where the game shines is on the field. The Player Impact Engine looks to be a bit more improved with better collision detection and little nuances such as players jumping over sliding opponents or more realistic falls when crashing into each other, and even players grabbing on to shoulders when jumping up for headers. So far, with the new animations, the game looks to be a lot more put together than last year’s version. My only minor gripe still has to do with the lighting effects on the field — something that Konami seems to have a better handle on.
Control-wise, it’s still familiar but the biggest difference I have seen is with the First Touch Control. There really is a difference in feel as a player first gets a ball from a pass as they bring it in, attempts to change direction and keep control of the ball. It’s definitely not like it’s been in years past where you just get a pass and go and it’s not a gimmicky trick added to the game. There really is a difference when you see a player in FIFA 13 get a ball from chest to foot and then running versus what you’ve seen before in past versions. Also, I’ve noticed that one has to be really careful when passing into space as you just can’t pass and hope for the best. If you aren’t careful, you can overpass your teammate, into a completely wrong direction.
There are many mini-games you can try prior to starting your match, which will go a long way into improving your game. Some include teaching you how to lob a shot into the goal with the objective of having you lob the ball over a few boxes and hit a target while getting the ball into the net. You get points towards doing these activities and I think when the game goes live, you can use these to your created player but I will revisit this when the game is released.
The game’s AI seems to be a bit better this year and one of the things I have noticed this year is how well the AI plays on the ball as well as playing near the ball. One of my biggest gripes with the last two iterations was how a player with the ball could run past opponents and, on some occasions, either that was too easily stripped or no attempt was made to take the ball. So far in the demo, I have noticed more times when the AI and my controlled player got into tussles trying to get possession of the ball as sometimes occurs in games as well as realistic challenges with slide tackles. I have seen players more aggressively step in front of other players to cut off passing lanes, block crosses and stop shots. But the biggest difference is when shots are taken and balls that bounce off either the goalkeeper or the goal and go back into play. In previous versions my frustration was that when that happened, no other teammate ran forward to make another attempt to finish the goal. Everyone stayed rooted to the spot or started running back down field. This time (and I actually scored two different times because of this), I saw players rushing up to try and finish the missed shot and put the ball into the net.
So far, EA’s FIFA 13 demo outshines PES 2013’s demo and is doing a lot to show off the new features of the game itself. The Matchday will be a welcome addition to anyone that wants to replay the past weekend’s game to see if they can get a different result.
The demo is available on PC, Xbox, and PS3. FIFA 13 will be released in North America on September 25, in Europe on September 28 and in Australia on September 27. You can pre-order FIFA 13 today, so you’ll get it as soon as it’s released.
Stay tuned to EPL Talk for a full review when the game is released.