FIFA 13 hands-on preview

fifa 13 hands on preview 1

I don’t know FIFA all that well, both the intricacies of both EA Sports’ series of sims and the real-life pro sport. It’s soccer to me, not football (or futbol). I have to Google terms and abbreviations like “FC” just to understand what’s being discussed when the subject comes up. In short, I am probably not the ideal guy to speak with authority on FIFA 13.

Yet here I am, talking to you about FIFA 13. Maybe I don’t know the sport very well, but I thoroughly enjoy a good pickup match and actually have a running FIFA 12 feud with one of my closest friends. We play frequently, I get schooled just as frequently, and I keep coming back for more. It’s really a credit to the EA Canada dev team that the game, and really the series as a whole, is so brilliantly accessible. You don’t need to understand soccer. Sure, it helps, but the game’s controls and rules are simple enough to grasp that bringing even a neophyte up to speed is a non-issue.

I lay all of this out just so you understand where this preview is coming from. EA recently paid a visit to New York City for a holiday preview event and I got to spend a little bit of time playing FIFA 13. The demo wasn’t some elaborate showcase of the game’s new features, and I didn’t even get to see all of the new elements. It was just an open station where a person could walk up, sit down, snatch a controller, and play a little footy. I can’t tell you which teams were queued up, but I can tell you that FIFA 13 feels just as easy to get a grasp on and literally hit the ground running with as FIFA 12 was. The controls are responsive, the visuals continue to improve, and the play is just flat-out fun.

The hands-on time wasn’t completely devoid of peeks at the new content. One feature that I got a better sense of (after reading about it in the press release) was the game’s improved attacking intelligence. The simplest way to describe it is, AI-controlled players used to only consider the area immediately around them and the particulars of their assigned position. The computer brain is much smarter now, taking in the whole field on a moment-to-moment basis and adjusting tactics accordingly to help create better opportunities. This is especially true as you approach the opposing team’s net. I have a tendency to approach from the outside, and I noticed that my AI-managed teammates were much better (as compared to last year’s game) about tying up defenders and hanging onto a space in the center for me to send the ball to.

fifa 13 hands on preview 2

Handling the ball also feels more precise. In general, FIFA tends to do a good job of making you feel like you’re in control when you’ve got possession. When opposing team members get close, however, I’ve found that it can often be hard to deke your way past them. Maybe it’s less of an issue for pro players, but I found that I had a much easier time steering the ball away from a potential steal using the game’s manual dribble controls. Perhaps it was the opponent I was facing or just a few lucky escapes, but these instances stood out to me for being noticeably easier in terms of maintaining control of the ball than FIFA 12 was.

Really though, what we’re looking at here is more FIFA. The “if it ain’t broke” philosophy applies in a big way here. This is not a series that is in desperate need of re-tooling or mechanical fixes. EA Canada has an established formula that really works on the level of delivering an authentic simulator that is also incredibly fun to play. It’s something that continues to shine through based on the brief amount of time I spent kicking the virtual soccer ball around.

There are more new elements in FIFA 13 that you could easily absorb from a press release. Animations have been improved considerably, specifically with regards to player impacts. Free kicks have been re-tooled to offer even more opportunities for both the offense and the defense. Then there’s the EA Sports Football Club (FC!), which is essentially the FIFA equivalent of the likes of Autolog or Battlelog. You’ll have a profile, earn levels, net yourself some rewards, and generally just leave a digital footprint that offers onlookers a snapshot of your FIFA 13 performance.

All of these are welcome bells and whistles, but none of them really amount to anything game-changing, certainly not to the point that a casual player would sit down and notice them. They’re there for the hardcore enthusiasts to sit down, analyze, and measure against what’s come before. For everyone else, FIFA 13 continues to be one of the greatest sports games out there that you don’t need to know anything about in order to enjoy. That’s probably not going to change before the game launches on September 28. I may not have any team pride and I may feel a bit of triumph in being able to use a term like “FC” correctly, but I can always spot a good game. FIFA 13 is, by all appearances, a good game and one that you’ll enjoy all that much more than you did FIFA 12 before it.

Deals

You can now watch soccer games online with streaming service ESPN+

Launched back in April, ESPN+ is a direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service. For a mere $5 a month or $50 per year, you can have access to the best sports content available including multiple soccer leagues.
Movies & TV

How to watch NFL games online, with or without cable

The NFL's 2018 season is here, and we know you don't want to miss a moment of the action. Our comprehensive streaming guide will show you all the best options to watch the games online so you can make the right choice.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Gaming

The best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

‘Spyro Reignited Trilogy’ proves nostalgia only goes so far

Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a faithful and beatiful remaster of the PlayStation classics, but its dedication to retaining the original experience ultimately hinders the experience. Spyro was great in the late-'90s, but it hasn't aged well.
Gaming

Microsoft is reportedly planning an Xbox One without a disc drive for 2019

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a new Xbox One model without a disc drive in 2019. The console will be significantly cheaper than other Xbox One systems, including the Xbox One S.
Gaming

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.
Gaming

Stock up on Switch accessories this week with these awesome Black Friday deals

Black Friday is right around the corner, and it's the perfect time to stock up on accessories for your Nintendo Switch. Here are the best Switch accessory deals on Black Friday, from controllers to cases and more.
Product Review

Make friends. To survive the wasteland of 'Fallout 76,' you're gonna need 'em

Fallout 76 brings the nuclear wasteland online and invites you to hop in with your friends. It’s fun, and a new direction for the Fallout franchise, but it’s not without its faults.
Gaming

‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ director sets record straight on game’s progress

Final Fantasy VII Remake director Tetsuya Nomura clarified some information about the game's progress. There were earlier reports that the RPG was put on hold in favor of Kingdom Hearts III, but that is apparently not the case.
Features

From NES to PlayStation, retro gaming is booming. But will it last?

Everyone craves the good old days, and companies like Nintendo and Sony are cashing in with their mini versions of beloved retro consoles. But is this fad built to last or will our fixation with pixelated graphics come and go like mom…
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.