FIFA 13 — Review: Finally Learning from Their Competitors
Player Career – How I Spent my Weekend in Northampton Town
One thing that has always been daunting about playing FIFA games, especially as a new player, is that the player career mode was unforgiving. You create your player and your stats were always low. And you either jumped in to swim with the big fish or you got booted from the team especially if you were trying to make it with a big club like Inter, Manchester United, Barca or PSG.
This year’s iteration takes a very different approach, one that even PES doesn’t take. You have the option of creating a player and signing him to any club that you choose but the rub here is one way or another, your manager may send you out on loan to improve your skills. As it happened with me, I created my player and signed him onto Manchester United. And after 2 games, Sir Alex Ferguson sent my player to Northampton Town FC. I was bummed, I mean I really felt like I was sent out of sight, out of mind but…the beauty of this mode is this: You are given goals to work to.
Unlike PES’ career mode which one, sends you to a team and forces you to work your way completely up and two, your only clear objective is to do enough for the team to stay in the Starting XI, the club that you play for regardless if you are starting or loaned out, you are given a set of objectives (primary and secondary) to play for. Some goals can be to score a set amount of goals in a season, keep a particular rating average, getting assists and a few others. As you play of course, any special skills you pull off gets added to your player. That much has not changed, so your player does ‘develop’ as your season progresses.
My player build started off at 67 and after 5 games, my player’s overall skill was 70 and now I’m getting a few unlockables along the way. This is a much different take than other past FIFA video games as you are responsible for your player’s growth and yes, the manager still controls the game including tactics and line up. As the season has progressed, I saw the call for internationals and of course, my player is nowhere near ready to go, but seeing the announcement, it made me want to play more so that eventually my player does get called up. This is a mode that PES has been touting for years but in one fell swoop, EA may have this right after doing the right amount of tinkering.
Manager Career – Sitting in The Manager’s Chair
I think it’s safe to say that FIFA 11 and 12’s manager mode was the same thing with no changes and I was hoping and praying that this really would have been fixed in this year’s mode. While some fixing has been done, there is still a lot to do but suffice to say this more has a FIFA Manager-Lite feel to it.
So, everything you know and love is still there. You still need to pick your Starting XI, wrangle transfer negotiations, set up your scouting networks and the like but this mode is a little more interactive now but not by much. For instance, you can still have times you can talk to the press before games but still there is no reason to do it as it doesn’t have an outcome one way or another with management, supporters or your opponent.
Another item I saw that may need addressing is that when negotiating transfers, you have to have an almost perfect finesse in moving players whether buying or selling. In many cases, once talks break down, that’s it. Teams will not come back to the table for no reason and because of this you have to plan accordingly. You can have a transfer deal already sealed and ready to make your next move when negotiations between the player and their team fall because they can’t agree wages. Be prepared for this to happen…a lot. However, there is a lot of interaction going on with your manager and the club execs during the season so you won’t be bored. And no, you won’t get called up to internationals right away similar in Player mode but you will see announcements about it, this game awards those with patience and perseverance.
Another plus is that if your team has qualified for Europe, you can start your season off drawn for Champions League and Europa League (although the names have been changed due to licensing) and competing at the proper times. Another great touch is how players now will interact when they aren’t getting enough playtime, want to sit out a match or even beg to start — at the expense of another teammate. And it’s even more priceless to see the reaction you get from them after a game.
The Bells and Whistles – The Small Stuff That Count
For any sports game, many of you can think of minute details that may have made the game for you. Be it the way a transfer has gone to a way a player does a celebration. FIFA was a love it or hate it game sometimes based on the small potatoes. There were a lot of little things that this game does that I even wish the American juggernaut Madden NFL would do. For instance, when playing a season, before you start a game, you have the choice of getting other scores and news announced from around the league. It’s a nice touch to hear midway through your game that a player on a rival team has gotten a red card or was scored on via a penalty kick. And it happens frequently enough that you stay informed and infrequently enough that it doesn’t take away from the game. Even when a player gets hurt during the game, you hear whether or not that player will come back or is out. You even get to hear a full recap of scores post game as well as an announcement of upcoming fixtures.
Another nice and small touch is how much the commentary has improved. Yes, eventually you will start hearing the same things over and over, but it’s a nice touch to hear how well or how bad a team’s form is coming into a game, or if a player is on the bench or up for transfer. But most surprisingly, how a new transfer may be playing against his former team. For instance, in my Manager Mode, I picked up Holger Badstuber from Bayern Munich and when I went to play them a few weeks later, I was shocked to hear something to the tune of “We will see how this new acquisition will fare today against his old club.” I was pleased that someone thought long enough to put that in there. What I am waiting to hear is manager sackings!
And as mentioned earlier, there’s more interaction in the menus. Big stories pop out which may prompt some action from you, audio alerts will pop up from time to time and so on. You can really see that a clear effort has been made from EA this time around to make this year’s game a more polished game rather than a roster upgrade from previous years.
Graphically speaking, the game has improved; the Player Impact engine has changed the game giving an air of unpredictability to matches and the improvements in the Career and Manager modes has given more meat to modes that were suffering.
The downsides are few but in the Early Release version I saw:
- Weird day and night cycles especially when players are subbed.
- Every once in a while scoreboard results and audible results didn’t match
- Inconsistent commentary as the game opens, some games you get a mouthful from Martin Tyler and Alan Smith; some games they are deathly silent
- Game saves can get corrupted, so save often!
- More audible chants! I may make a real effort to get some this year and put them in game
There is still a great deal of improvement to be made and should EA gets complete rights in the future from PES in terms of tournaments, then it may eliminate PES completely (I hope this never happens as competition keeps game makers on their toes! .
One more thing to add. It is now theoretically possible to recreate specific tournaments. You have enough tools to replay the Euros and the World Cup but you don’t have all the bells and whistles to do so until those ‘add ons’ appear.
After having played a full weekend of FIFA 13 in anticipation of Tuesday’s disc release, I may not have a need to play PES this year. I can only hope that these improvements carry over into the Vita version although it’s a downer that there is no cross play.
As an EA FIFA fan this is a must have. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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