July 15, 1993. That was the day that Electronic Arts released their very first soccer (or football) game upon the world - FIFA '94. Released on pretty much every platform available at the time (including PC, MegaDrive and SNES), the game was an instant hit providing an isometric rather than standard top-down viewpoint, and launch what was to be the biggest sporting franchise in video game history - a franchise which gets updated again very soon with FIFA 13.
So this is a soccer title and as such there's no storyline to follow, but what makes this game so impressive is the massive list of players, teams, rosters available. Electronic Arts have this week confirmed that FIFA 13 will feature 30 of the world’s best leagues, 500 officially licensed clubs and 15,000 players.
Australia's Tim Cahill stars in the game.
International teams include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Camaroon, Chile, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea Republic, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Moving onto the Leagues and FIFA 13 includes... Barclays Premier League, npower Championship, npower League 1, npower League 2, France Ligue 1, France Ligue 2, German Bundesliga, German Bundesliga 2, K-League, Major League Soccer, Norweigen Tippeligaen, Scottish Premier League, Liga BBVA, Liga Adelante, Airtricity League, Raiffeisen SL, Austrian Bundesliga, Belgian Pro League, Australian A-League (Huzzah!), Danish Superliga, Dutch Eredivisie, Russian League, Swedish Allsvenskan, Polska Liga, Liga MX, Liga Portuguesa, Saudi Pro League, Liga do Brasil, Italian Serie A, and Italian Serie B. In addition to these leagues the game includes several other top clubs from South America, South Africa, Greece and Turkey.
Yet another in-game screenshot.
Of course you can throw as many teams, players and clubs at any game, but if it plays like shit, well, what's the point. Fortunately EA's FIFA franchise rarely fails to impress, and this far into a console life-cycle it's nice to see Electronic Arts putting in plenty effort to improve the franchise further. FIFA 13 will see improvements in both the attacking and goalkeeping intelligence as well as improved 360-degree dribbling. The game, which also supports PlayStation Move controls on PS3, sees the EA Sports Football Club included which allows you to earn rewards, level-up, compete in live challenges and connect with friends.
Visually FIFA 13 is mighty impressive on all counts but it's the on-pitch action that impresses the most. Player animations look sensational, and with the second generation of the Player Impact Engine being used the game will feature improved body collision detection and reactions. Naturally we expect the games menus and interface to be as slick as usual.
Animations in FIFA 13 are superb.
As yet Electronic Arts haven't announced the commentary team for this year’s FIFA game, but we would expect whoever is in place should do a pretty decent job given the quality of commentary in previous FIFA titles. EA Canada are also paying particular attention to the crowds with more realism depending on the on-pitch action, and which team has the home game advantage. Music too will be a major focus of the title with the developers including 50 tracks from international artists. While many are smaller independent bands we did notice some fairly big acts including Bloc Party, deadmau5 feat. Gerard Way, Flo Rida feat. Lil Wayne, Kimbra, Passion Pit and The Presets. GIvne that sports games are usually more focused towards the on-pitch effects and crowds and the commentary having such a wide range of music is a bonus.
Celebrations after the goal is scored!
From the quality of previous games, and the enhancements being made to this year’s title, we expect Electronic Arts to be on another winner. The biggest question for soccer/football fans though, do you opt for Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 due on September 20, or EA's FIFA 13 due a week later. Fortunately before you drop any cash on these games you can check out demos for both with Electronic Arts have confirming a demo of FIFA 13 featuring AC Milan, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Manchester City will become available from September 11 (we'll guess September 13 on the Australian PlayStation Store).
Below is the FIFA 13 gameplay trailer which EA released at Gamescom last month.