Every transfer period you hear about the big clubs spending staggering amounts of money to bring in new talent. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. Befitting its status as one of Electronic Arts’ biggest titles, the company has lavished many features on the series. I love a lot of “FIFA 13," but as well put together as the game is — with the licenses, online features and gloss — the gameplay is both beautiful and frustrating.
“FIFA’s" gameplay is capable of free-flowing, graceful play that replicates real-life action and gives you all kinds of tactical gameplay options. Other times, players’ actions — particularly when a free ball is contested — are pre-determined by animations that are oblivious to the circumstances, player physics, and your controller inputs. Sometimes you may slide tackle a loose ball instead of shooting it on goal because the game logic has already given “control" of the ball to the defender even though it’s still in free space. On defense, this is frustrating when you expect your player to clear the ball.
These moments of inauthenticity stand in contrast to “FIFA 13’s" otherwise laudable improvements. The new AI offensive runs open up the attack, playing along the touchlines is now possible, variable first touch adds a welcome element of uncertainty, and the Complete Dribbling controls (similar to FIFA Street) are easier to perform and arguably more useful than the skill moves. This year I even had more control over headers in the middle of the field — although headers and play inside the box in general remain a mess of shoddy logic and bad play. Seeing players trip over themselves also demonstrates that the physics still need work.
The feature set is bolstered by international duties in career mode (the player path is particularly fun since you never know if you’re going to be in the lineup), and tweaks to the title’s online modes. Although the series still lacks the full-fledged online franchise offering (which every other EA Sports game has now), “FIFA 13" adds relegation/promotion in the 11 vs. 11 and Ultimate Team play modes, and the fun Match Day mode modifies player form based on real-life performances and highlights big matches every week.
“FIFA 13" captures a lot of the passion and pageantry of world football, but beneath the surface its gameplay flaws can hinder the beautiful movements that truly make the sport great.
8.75 (out of 10)
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
EA Sports, EA Canada
ESRB rating: E for Everyone