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October 9, 2012
FIFA 13 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
27/9/2012EA GamesEA GamesEA Canada1-62-22
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc0MB720pYesNoG

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FIFA 13 is a stunning soccer game in all areas, and the visuals are one of the highlights.
FIFA is back and FIFA 13 marks the 20th installment in the franchise. It’s been a long while since we had a FIFA game to review here at Futuregamez (the last was FIFA 06), but it seems like we’ve caught the franchise at a great time. If stories on the internet are anything to go by FIFA 13 is a landmark game, not just for the franchise, but for EA Sports as well. Apparently the game has amassed 4.5 million sales in just five days making it EA’s biggest sports game ever, and the top-selling game of 2012 so far. In five days. It was also the most downloaded title on the PSN in September, despite being overpriced (compared to bricks and motar stores) and only available for three days. Needless to say we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the game and bring you our thoughts on it.

The first thing you notice when you boot up FIFA 13 is the number of different game modes available. There’s everything from single games, tournaments, all manner of online options (including season play and a World Cup competition for the best online clubs), FIFA Ultimate Team, Career and the all-new EA Sports FC Matchday which recreates some of the best games and situations from recent and upcoming real life games for you to play.

What isn’t immediately evident is that playing in any of these modes builds upon your FIFA profile in a meaningful way as you earn experience or coins that can be used in a variety of different ways in-game. Most games in FIFA 13 earn you FIFA coins that are used to buy items in the EA Sports FC catalog. These items include things like new shoes or balls for you to take online, and also include perks to other game modes like the ability to scout a gun youth player in career mode, or to boost coin collection in the Ultimate Team mode.

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Visually, FIFA 13 is superb.
You also earn experience and level up (which unlocks new items in the catalog) as you play the game. It’s possible to get all the way to level one-hundred and there’s a leader-board that ranks you and your PS3 friends if you’re keen to earn bragging rights. It’s a smart way to reward long-term players and gives you a carrot to keep on playing.

Career mode returns and is just as deep as ever. You can play as either a current real life player, or one of your own creations (welcome to the world Buddy Rioli), or alternatively as the manager. In a players career you get the choice to play games controlling only that player, or to control the whole squad. Even as the manager you can play the games if you would like to. In fact it’s probably better that you do because if you simulate matches you have no control of them once they start – you can’t make substitutions as the game goes on, or make any tactical changes. It’s all automated which is a little disappointing.

FIFA Ultimate Team is part card-game, part on the pitch. When the game starts you’re given a deck of cards that has a player for every position on the field (including subs) and these are the players you’ll control on the pitch. Playing games in this mode earns you coins to spend on packs of cards to expand your squad. Players have limited contracts, can suffer injuries, get fatigued and lose morale but there are cards to deal with these issues.

If you’re hunting a specific player you can go into the auction house and find someone to meet your criteria. There were 900K+ cards up for sale every time I used the auction house, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for – provided you have the coins to pay for it. Indeed this is part of the lure of the Ultimate Team; do you buy packs of cards and hope you get the players you want (or a super valuable card), or do you simply go and buy exactly what you want? This game within a game adds even more replayability to the Ultimate Team mode.

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Hart punches the ball away from goal in FIFA 13.
You start with a very basic squad but you can improve team play by boosting the chemistry of your team. Having a team with players from the same teams, countries or league will provide a boost to your chemistry. You also get bonuses if you put a player in their preferred position and play in their preferred formation.

When you’re finally ready to take the pitch you can play in a Cup or start a season and try to earn promotion. The difficulty of games within the cup or season isn’t always the same – better teams will play at a higher difficulty setting – but you can see this before the game starts. In season play you’re given ten games to earn as many points as you can with relegation, safety (i.e. staying in the same league next season), promotion and champion status all up for grabs. There is no league table, just points targets for you to reach. Naturally you get a bigger prize the better you perform, and if you promote you’ll be playing against higher quality teams next season. By the time you reach Division 2 you’d better have a team of gold card players…

When you play Seasons, an online season mode, the set-up is exactly the same – you get ten games to earn points and will either relegate, stay safe, promote or win the division crown. You start off in Division 10 and the promotion target is a rather modest 12 points. As you progress through the ranks though, things get significantly harder. This structure for seasons really appealed to me – I’m not sure if it’s new to FIFA 13 or been around a while – but it kept me interested in the campaigns of both modes for longer than I expected.

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Australia's Tim Cahill stars in the game.
There are plenty of other online game modes to play if Seasons doesn’t sound like your cup of tea. You can play in a friendly, challenge teams with money, points and prizes up for grabs, set up your own custom event, or join in the World Cup. Alternatively you can play Be A Pro where you take your created player online and join a game with up to 21 other people, each controlling just one player. I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable game mode, only let down by a little bit of lag. While the lag wasn’t terrible it was just long enough to have an effect on the timing of one-touch passes and making and avoiding tackles.

One other mode worth mentioning is the all new Skills Games. There are eight challenges to test your skills in a variety of areas including passing, shooting, free kicks and penalties. There are bronze, silver and gold challenges in each game and once you pass all of those you’re given an even tougher test – to become Legendary. Those last challenges taxed my skills to their maximum, which is a good thing. Under the Skills Games banner there is also a very short interactive tutorial to play through, teaching you some basics to defending, tackling and calling in a team mate to assist. Between the Skills Games and tutorial you’ll get a handle on the basic controls, which is a welcome addition to the game.

Ok, so that’s the game modes covered, but it’s the play on the pitch that really matters. In this regard FIFA passes with flying colours… for the most part. Basic controls are intuitive, making the game extremely accessible for newcomers. X passes, square does a lob pass, circle shoots and you perform through balls with triangle. You control the power for all of these by holding the button down longer. L2 is referred to as ‘pace control’, and it allows you to keep the ball closer to you when you’re dribbling. R2 sprints, and R1 adds finesse control to your shots.

Defensively you hold X to keep close to the ball carrier, tapping X does a standing tackle, square does a slide tackle and circle pushes and pulls the ball carrier – be careful with that last one as referees don’t care for it when it’s used aggressively. You can also adjust tactics and team aggression on the fly with the d-pad.

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Yet another in-game screenshot.
The physics engine from last year’s game has been improved, allowing players to jostle for the ball and use their superior size (if they have it) to outmuscle your opponent for control of the ball. Even if you can’t win control of the ball directly it’s possible to harass your opponent enough to force them into poor touches, giving you time to sneak the ball away.

Speaking of poor touches, FIFA 13 introduces a new system for first touch control which makes the perfect handling of previous games a thing of the past. Now, imperfect passes are harder to control, so only the best players can control them adroitly. Less skilled players will have a sloppy first touch which gives defenders just enough time to pounce. The improved physics and overhauled first touch control make FIFA 13 look and play in a more satisfying and believable way.

In my time with FIFA 13 I only came across two issues I would class as significant. Firstly, and as mentioned earlier, online play has been laggy for me. I’m prepared to cut EA a bit of slack on this front because FIFA 13 has apparently had more online users than any other EA game, so perhaps they simply weren’t prepared well enough. If that’s the case, then in time this issue should disappear completely.

The second significant issue is that the game is prone to freezing, during both career mode, and in Ultimate Team, particularly the auction house. The freezing happens in the menu screens, not on the pitch, but you’ll have to restart your system in both cases.

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Animations in FIFA 13 are superb.
Minor issues that are barely worth mentioning include unskippable cut-aways during games, where you get a close up of a player before he’s subbed, or of the touch judge holding up the board with the number of the two players about to be subbed. It lasts about ten seconds and is both annoying and completely unnecessary. The AI-controlled players on your team are also remarkably slow to react to loose balls – something your AI-opponent has no such trouble with. Lastly, the ball physics are a bit dubious at certain times; more so on harder difficulty settings (unless I imagined it). This means that all too often the loose ball falls the way of your opponent, like the time my goalkeeper kicked the ball at full power into a nearby attacker. Instead of the ball bouncing away at pace, it flew about two steps up into the air and then straight back at the attacker’s feet. He promptly slotted a goal before the keeper could recover. Grrrrr. Oh, and I’d love to see a deeper tutorial next year – especially for some of the fancier moves the ball-carrier can make.

Visually FIFA 13 impresses with fluid play and vastly improved physics. Last year’s game was plagued by physics-related issues (this youtube clip has a few funny ones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMsCf2l7WHc&feature=related), but such issues are almost completely gone from FIFA 13. They still occur, just not very often. Your fellow attackers position themselves smartly, and make considered runs which you’re obliged to honour with well timed passes. Completing a neat string of passes that culminates in an open shot on goal is extremely satisfying. Player likenesses aren’t perfect, but they’re close enough to look believable.

One knock I have on the visuals is the horrible-looking crowd. When the camera zooms in on a line judge you get to see the crowd up close and it’s not a lie to say they look a lot like pixilated blobs. Seriously, this is the worst-looking crowd I’ve seen in years.

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Celebrations after the goal is scored!
There is a fair bit of music in the game, and features songs by the likes of DeadMau5, FloRider, Kimbra, Kasabian and Bloc Party. There are definitely some catchy tunes in there, but I think next year’s game needs some orchestral tunes in there as well, because I was getting pretty sick of some songs by the end (probably because I spent so much time in the Ultimate Team menus, hunting for rare and cheap gold cards).

The commentary (provided by Martin Tyler and Alan Smith) is impressive, really impressive. Introductions and conclusions are kept generic enough to apply to a variety of situations, but even so there is a fair bit of depth here. One thing they do really well, especially in career mode, is to discuss ongoing issues a team or player is going through. If a player is feeling homesick, and you see news articles to this effect during Career, they’ll discuss that in the introduction. It makes the overall experience that much more immersive, and kudos to EA for their work here.

The crowd noises are alright, though they’re a bit too generic for my liking. There are times when the commentators know the situation - something like a win in today’s game will ensure promotion, or win you the FA Cup – but the crowd behaves exactly as it does in any other game. I’d love to hear things like the crowd going nuts in the last ten minutes when you’re up (or down) by a goal. The intensity should lift in such situations, and if the commentators are aware of it, it shouldn’t be too hard to make the crowd behave appropriately too.

On the pitch FIFA 13 is a cracking game of football, but to me it distances itself from the competition more off the field than on it. There are a bunch of game modes to play and they complement each other by providing different experiences, forcing you to play as both weak and strong teams. One thing I haven’t mentioned so far in the review is the significance of having the real team and player names, and its impact cannot be understated. FIFA makes excellent use of this through the Ultimate Team mode, and also by recreating the top real life games of the week. Team ratings will fluctuate as the year progresses based on their real life form too. So while PES may almost be able to match FIFA on the pitch, in my opinion FIFA is a much more accomplished title, giving you much more reason and incentive to keep playing. If you’re a football fan you can’t go wrong with FIFA 13.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSAside from the horribly pixilated crowd everything looks great. The physics engine is much improved, making it look more realistic than ever.
85%
SOUNDGreat commentary and solid music and crowd effects. The crowd could use more variety in intensity though, particularly in big games.
87%
GAMEPLAYFIFA remains highly accessible for newcomers, but also has depth that will take time to master. I’d love a tutorial for some of those fancy moves next year.
91%
VALUEAll of the game modes offer great depth, whether online or offline. There’s heaps of content here, and with live fixtures and fluctuating form based on real life games, you won’t quickly tire of it.
93%
OVERALLOn the pitch FIFA 13 is not revolutionary (though the improved physics are great), but the number and variety of game modes make it exceptionally easy to recommend. If you love football you’re going to love FIFA 13.
90%

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