FIFA 13 Review: Much Ado About Touch

 

If there’s anyone who knows about high stakes, it’s Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers, who was hired this past summer and responsible for bringing Borini (above, right) to the club. Rogers is a young manager with a distinctive style, favoring short passing and possession in contrast to the more physical, uncompromising tactics of his contemporaries in the English Premier League.

It’s a style that depends on constant, intelligent movement on the part of the players, and it’s lucky for me that FIFA 13′s new “Attacking Intelligence” feature is there to represent it on the virtual pitch when I play as Liverpool. Players are now noticeably more proactive on offense, providing more passing options and allowing for more creative, unpredictable attacks.

For all the great approach play Rodger’s team have demonstrated this season, however, Liverpool are still not scoring enough goals. I can’t solve this problem in the real world — would that I could — but if I’m having trouble finishing in FIFA 13, I can fire up a brand new suite of score-based challenges that are designed to teach players specific aspects of the game.

It’s a wonder no one of thought of this before, given the number of control inputs, mechanics, and animations you need to learn to be good at the game. The system kicks in automatically if you’re loading a local match against the AI or against a couch-based opponent, though it can also be accessed through a separate game mode. Whether you want to work on crossing, dribbling, or shooting, it’s all in there. Simply choose your player and lob passes into virtual trash bins, or chip cheekily over giant cardboard boxes into the far corner of the goal. Practice makes perfect, after all.

FIFA is a difficult game to review, given its yearly installments and wealth of gameplay modes, some of which I don’t even bother with. It becomes necessary to review each successive sequel in terms of its single-year contribution to the franchise — in terms of how much it has a. codified and refined what the previous games did well and b. added successful new features that represent tangible improvements.

FIFA 13 flourishes using this rubric. Systems like controlled dribbling and physics-based, physical defending have been perfected, and work seamlessly with the new first touch mechanics and Attacking Intelligence to create a game that is closer than ever to the sublimely free-flowing, unpredictable game that is soccer. Plus, when I thump someone with Liverpool, it helps me forget that we’re currently 17th place in the table. Sometimes, I even score with Borini.

 

Pros

  • New marquee features use physics to add both realism and fun.
  • Unheralded touches like updated commentary and training challenges are welcome enhancements.
  • Common-sense changes like the ability to save your preferred line-up and formation for every team in the game, saving aggregate hours navigating menus.

Cons

  • Wonky matchmaking and connection timeouts plagued the weeks immediately following release. No excuses considering this game comes out every year.
  • Lots of obligatory nits to pick. Liverpool right back Glen Johnson cut his corn rows off two seasons ago, guys.

Final Score: 90/100

 

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