I feel like I waited years for this one, but I did end up finally receiving it and had a chance to review it. In case you haven’t followed the FIFA series, here’s a short summary of this years iteration:

There is no more thrilling outcome than the one that no one saw coming. FIFA 2013 takes the all-world football experience you expect and adds intrigue by amping up the unexpected, making each match play out with the anything-can-happen feel of real life football. Key refinements improve first-touch capabilities with more realistic physics and intensify battles for ball control with a new Player Impact Engine. The AI attack is now more relentless, and a tweaked dribbling mechanic with true 360-degree mobility lets you chart a path through the defense with more precision. You’ll also find more free-kick options, new Skill Games, expanded Kinect voice commands, and much more.

Overview

I actually don’t play much of FIFA, yet I have purchased every version which I know is ironic. Anyhow, this one is pretty good, but to be honest, you have to really like the FIFA style of games, otherwise it does get boring. This is more of a simulation than a fun game though, so if you are looking for fun such as the soccer in Kinect Sports, that kind of fun isn’t here unfortunately. I’ll try to go into detail as much as I can but there is a lot to this one so this may be a really large review.

What’s New

For fans returning to the series, there’s quite a few new things. I’ll just summarize as when I break down each section, I’ll go into more detail there. First, there is Attacking Intelligence, when you are on the attack, your players are smarter in making decisions such as staying onside and what not. Next, you have Physical Play, which allows you to try to physically mess with other players that don’t have the ball. Complete Dribbling allows you to be really finesse with dribbling the ball, you can even do sidesteps to make an opponent move out of your way. 1st Touch Control fixes the issue with players being able to receive a 70-yard pass surrounded by defenders and adds more realism to the game. Tactical Free Kicks introduces the ability to position players over the ball on free kicks, use dummy runs, and utilize more passing options. There’s also Lateral Contain which gives you more lateral freedom and mobility. Seal Outs allows you to use your body win back possession of the ball. Lastly, there is additional and new commentary that gives it more of an authentic experience. There are other new things, but I’ll go into detail in those sections below.

The Menu

The menu is very organized, which makes my review a little easier since I’m not jumping all over the place. It’s broken up into these main categories; EAS FC, EAS FC Match Day, Ultimate Team, Seasons, Career, Xbox Live, Skill Games, Game Modes, Customise FIFA, My FIFA 13, and Kinect. As usual, I’ll break each one down in detail.

EAS FC

This is the new EA Sports Football Club mode that I think was introduced in 11 or 12. But anyway, the manual explains it better than I can so here’s what it says. EA SPORTS FC continues to evolve in FIFA 13 with the introduction of EA SPORTS FC Match Day and the EA SPORTS FC Catalogue. Earn all-new Football Club Credits (FCC) as you play the game, and redeem them in the Catalogue to unlock in-game items—such as historic kits, gameplay celebrations, and FUT coin boosts. You’ll continue to earn XP to build your Level, and your Level from FIFA 12 carries over to FIFA 13 so that your season starts as strong as it finished. Also, all-new Facebook integration allows you to push news events and custom messages directly to Facebook. All of the major features from FIFA 12 continue on: News, Leaderboards, Support Your Club, and of course, Challenges, pulled from current events, continue to follow the heartbeat of the real football world. I was also able to grab the introduction video about it that you can view below:

It is kind of cool though, it’s like the coin system found in Tiger 13 that allows you to purchase DLC with in-game currency. I don’t believe the catalogue has DLC content, but it’s still nice to spend some hard earned coin on something in-game. Buying DLC with it would have made it much better.

EAS FC Match Day

Again, the manual describes it better than I can. EA SPORTS Football Club Match Day introduces regular updates with real world data, stats, and stories to bring your single player game experience to life! Players’ form in game reflects their real life form and teams have to cope without injured, suspended players, and those away on international duty. The league table positions, facts, and figures drive the commentary that you hear. So when your club has that vital top of the table clash or relegation battle, it is reflected in game.

Live Fixtures
The details of each team’s next four real opponents are stored in-game. Use this option to short cut to an upcoming match and play out your anticipation for the big game.

Games of the Week
Each week, a small number of Live Fixtures become Games of the Week. Check out these massive encounters in this dedicated section.

Turning EA SPORTS FC Match Day On/Off
By default, the live data is used for your game as long as you are connected to EA Servers. If you wish to use your local customized database instead, you can turn toggle the option on or off.

I played it briefly but its not much different from playing the regular game, I guess it was a feature requested by gamers.

Ultimate Team

FIFA Ultimate Team is a massive online community of football fans from around the globe, building their own dream squads and competing in Tournaments, Seasons, and in our global Auction Market for players. I went into this mode briefly as well. From what I gathered, I’m guessing this is kind of the Madden Ultimate team with the card packs. It wasn’t really something I was interested in so I just threw in what the manual had to say about it.

When you first start FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) you are given a starter pack of players. This pack contains everything you need to start playing in Tournaments and earning coins. You’ll receive 22 players from various leagues around the world, a manager, and some player contracts. Having a team of star players is great, but having a team with excellent chemistry is what you’re after. A squad with good team chemistry can play above their ratings, while great players with poor chemistry won’t be at their best. To build chemistry, look at the links between players on the pitch.

Players gain chemistry when playing in the correct formation, playing in a position that they prefer, and linking to other players who come from the same country, league, or club. Formation bonuses are added when a player is in a formation they like. For example, a striker with a 4-4-2 preference gets the best bonus for playing in a 4-4-2, but if you put them in any formation with two strikers, such as a 5-3-2, they’ll receive a partial bonus. A position bonus is earned by playing a player in the correct position on the pitch. Playing a center midfielder in a CM spot in a formation grants a full position bonus to a player. However, putting a center midfielder into a CDM (center defensive midfielder) or CAM (center attacking midfielder) spot yields a partial bonus. You even get a small bonus by playing them in LM (left midfielder) and RM (right midfielder) spots.

Linking to other players is the way to get your team chemistry to maximum. Links between players are made by connecting players with the same nationality, players who play in the same league, and players who play at the same club. For example, if you put an Italian striker from the Serie A next to a Spanish striker from the same club, you would get a strong link for having two players who play in the same league and club side by side. There are many ways to reach high team chemistry, so experiment with different combinations of players and have fun creating unique squads.

Seasons

The seasons mode is a section that requires the online pass. The manual states the following about this mode; The most popular mode in FIFA is back for FIFA 13! Play with any club you want in 10-game online seasons, with the goal of reaching promotion and climbing up the divisions. There are now all-new Division Titles, which exist in each division. Not only is promotion a goal, but also the glory of being the best in your division and collecting silverware.

What better way to show off your success than your own Trophy Cabinet. The more success you have, the better your cabinet can get. Also new is the ability to save your team management changes for future Seasons games. In addition, there are more matchmaking options, which give you added customization, so that you can play the way you want against who you want. Lastly, co-op play is back in FIFA Seasons! Grab a friend for some 2v2 action and work together to glory. There are also cups mixed into the season mode. Every few weeks the cup window opens. Based on your current division, you qualify for cups and choose which to enter during the window. Each is a dynamic 16-team tournament. Cups are also available in the single player career mode as well.

Career

Now this mode I was actually able to play and somewhat enjoy. It’s quite cool actually. You can start your career as either a player or a manager. When playing as a player, you can still control only your player or the entire team. Another cool feature, in case you do want to be a manager, is that you can retire your player and become a manager and continue your career. It really is very in-depth and time consuming however. When choosing the player path, you can choose to use a real player and their stats, or create your own. While playing as a player, you get assigned objectives such as being clean, achieving a 9+ rating and more. From what I could tell, obtaining objectives give you more coin towards the FC mode. You can also request transfers to go to a different club or go out on loan for a season to build up your skills. The clubs actually do what they want to, so you may be let go and what not, it’s kind of neat how realistic it is. Basically, what your overall goal is to be amazing in your local club to get recognized to play in international games and cups, and then try to get recruited to the national team. I believe once you are on the national team, the world cups are available but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

As a manager it is way more in-depth. You kind of have the same goals as you want to become a national team manager, but as for being a manager, there is a ton of things to do in the mean time. First, you have decide who your team captain is. You then have to pay attention to your squads fitness, form and morale. Players can be extremely form and others can be bad, so you have to readjust your lines and positions based on their performance. You also have the option to start the Champions Cup and Euro League right away if you don’t want the long drawn out normal method. If you need to sign some big players, you do have the option to request funds and submit a proposal to the board. Its up to your promises though whether you obtain additional funding or not.

There’s also a youth academy that you have to deal with as well. Basically, you want to grow from within your club and find the best young talent to set you up for the future. You can also send scouting agents to locales all over the world to discover and hire new players. More management functions also include talking to the press. You can make statements about individuals, teams or the opposing team/manager and it may actually affect their performance in the next game. Realistically, if you are able to play this game like every day for the next year, there’s that much content in it to keep it going and keep you entertained.

That’s pretty much it for the career mode. In all honesty, I can say as much as I can about it, but there is just so much to be involved with it that you really need to just play it for yourself. I did go ahead and make a quick video of a game showing the player mode, I left the camera default but you can change it as I know we aren’t used to the “Madden Up/Down” camera mode for a soccer game, so its a little different, anyhow check it below:

Xbox Live

This is again another mode that needs the online pass, so back to the manual we go! Here’s some information about each mode and what it offers.

Pro Clubs Seasons
The popular Seasons format is now in Pro Clubs! Try to earn enough points each season with your teammates to be promoted into higher divisions, win titles, and play for cups. Create your Online Pro and grow your skills online by playing with other FIFA 13 gamers. Your Online Pro’s progression is specific to Pro Clubs Seasons; there are over 300 accomplishments to earn in club matches and drop-in games. Create or join clubs and participate in organized games in monthly seasons. Play on a club with friends to have fun, or be competitive and take on the world. Personal and club glory is on the line. Can you become one of the best virtual football players in the world? Can you and your teammates compete against the top clubs each month? Pro Clubs Seasons is the ultimate stage to show off your skills on the pitch as a player.

Online Friendlies
Love playing your friends online, but want a way to track your rivalries? Online Friendlies allows you to play your friends in five game seasons to prove who is the best. In the hub, see all your friends and their status, invite who you want to play, and try to get a win for three points. Earn the most points in five games to hoist the trophy, and then start all over again the next season to try to defend your title.

EA Sports Arena
Honestly, I have no idea what this is. I’m guessing its a matchup of all of your friends and what not.

Custom Games
In here, you have the option to play head to head, team play and match lobbies.

My FIFA 13 Online
This section allows you to modify your Origin account (which you need for all newer EA games), view your player hub, change your Xbox Live settings and review the terms & conditions pertaining to online play.

Skill Games

From what I read about the previous FIFA titles, this is a new mode. I actually found this mode very useful. It’s kind of like training but they are also mini-games so you have an objective to complete. Each type of mini-game (there are 8 total) has 4 sub-levels rated on difficulty from beginner to expert, but they use a medal system, so you have bronze, silver, gold and skill challenge (not sure what medal skill challenge is since I haven’t won one yet). Anyhow, you first can decide who your team and player is. You can also choose between a normal player or a goalkeeper. After you are set, you can choose to begin the Skill Games. I was kind of enough to actually make a video of the bronze level for each skill so you can get an idea of this mode.

Ground Pass
This mode just teaches you how to pass. Check out the video below:

Lob Pass
This mode teaches you how to lob a pass and aim it. Here’s the video:

Dribbling
Simple dribbling skills, you can see it in the video below:

Shooting
Basic shooting skills, view below:

Advanced Shooting
Much more advanced shooting skills, check it out:

Crossing
Teaches you how to do a cross shot. You can view it below:

Free Kicks
Shows you the new free kick system. View the video below:

Penalties
This was the only weird one that is based on hitting a bar at the right time, and then moving the stick to the right position. It’s strange, the video explains it better:

There’s also a practice arena that you can play in till your hearts content in case you need help, which you probably will, as in the harder levels, they are ridiculously challenging. Lastly in the Skill Games area, there is an interactive tutorial that teaches you how to actually play the game itself. These modes include tackling, jockeying, containing, and pushing/pulling. I recommend really spending some time in this section if you want to become good at this game.

Game Modes

Tournaments
The game modes section has even more for you to do. First are the tournaments. You can load a tournament, create one or start a new tournament. There are about 50 tournaments to choose from. You just select your country and the specific tournament you’d like to compete in, choose your teams and which you’d like to control and off you go. When creating a tournament, you choose from League, Knockout, or Group & Knockout modes, and then set the number of teams and whether or not you’d like to choose each competing team yourself or have them filled in automatically. Once you’re happy with all of the settings, save your tournament and then see if you can come out a winner.

Be a Pro
The Be a Pro mode allows you choose to be either a player or a goalkeeper. This mode is similar to the career mode, but you can only play as one or the other, except without all of the in-depth features of the career mode.

Customise FIFA

This area allows for a personalized management of the game. From here, you can adjust the settings which cover the game settings, controls and video calibration. You can also create a player, edit a player and delete a player, which by the way, is very customizable. You can also edit teams to the extent of team management, changing squads, changing rosters and stadiums as well. There’s also a Creation Centre which allows you to create, share and bookmark players, teams, leagues and tournaments for download on your console. Downloaded teams can be used in tournaments, exhibition matches and unranked head to head online. Downloaded players can also be assigned to any club. Lastly, is the My Music & Chants section which allows you to load custom music & chants or change up the EA Sports Trax.

My FIFA 13

This section has a few more things in it for you to do. FIFA 13 Store allows you purchase downloadable content or the online pass and the season ticket. Replay Theatre offers both online and offline saved replays and highlights to review but you can actually customize the videos themselves via changing a camera angle, speed, etc. I was impressed by the in-game video editor. FIFA 13 Profile allows you to manage your save game file, such as saving, loading, deleting, etc. Lastly, are the credits for your viewing pleasure.

Kinect

New to this year is the Kinect functionality, which are unfortunately voice commands, but they seem to be better in this game than other voice only games I have played. The area is broken up into Kinect Settings which show you basic, combo, custom and formation commands. There’s also Kinect Help which goes more in-depth about the commands and the Kinect tuner. The one thing I actually did like about their integration of Kinect voice is that its more interactive in my opinion. Instead of management only commands such as changing formations, it seemed a little more interactive as you can tell your teammates to pass or shoot the ball at the critical moments, but again, I found it flawed as background noise interferes and Kinect doesn’t always pick up your command, so pressing the button guarantees your safety.

Presentation

With all sports titles, there’s always the discussion of presentation. I always feel that sports games, even though they are video games and sometimes simulations instead of games, should be presented to us as they are in real-life on television. I was surprised that EA finally made use of the ESPN logo as you rarely see anything EA Sports related unless its on the billboards. The presentation in this one is quite good, but still not good enough compared to how we’ve seen 2K sports games present themselves. It’s getting there, but still needs a lot more work. I did create one more game video of regular play and cameras to show the presentation of it so you can get an opinion yourself:

Gameplay, Graphics & Sound

As for the gameplay itself, it’s neat. I don’t know if the same engine that EA Tiburon used for Madden 13 could have been used as I think this is just a completely different style of game, but it needs help as well (EA Canada actually developed this one and they develop the NHL series). Collisions aren’t perfect, but they aren’t bad. The field has no physics whatsoever, all that running around doesn’t do any damage to the field. The crowds need help, which I only mention because, there’s certain moments where the camera is really close to players and the crowd looks like it belongs in the 8-bit Nintendo era, it’s pretty bad. The graphics of the players are very good though, such as playing during the rain, their jerseys actually do look wet so I was impressed, but again, with all of the falling down they do, their uniforms stay super clean!

For the controlling of the game, I don’t have problems playing games, but this game is just ridiculous. Thankfully, there’s an option to play with only 2 buttons so you don’t have to remember the many different joystick combinations. If you really want to learn this game, here’s a screenshot from the manual of some of the controls. It’s really insane.

A joystick can only do so much and it frustrates you more than anything. After about 10 hours of playing, I finally got used to dribbling the ball, but that’s just crazy. The sound for the game is quite good as well, mostly everything is authentic. The crowd has always bugged me since FIFA 02 or something, it’s been the same and seems to always be the same. They at least show excitement though when attacking or scoring so its not as annoying anymore.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the beginning of this novel, this game is more of a simulation than a game. If you want the real deal football/soccer world, this is probably a game you will want, although I haven’t played Pro Evolution Soccer so its hard to compare. If you are looking to have fun, it’s not here. Sure the first couple of matches are fun because its new, then it just gets boring. I honestly don’t have any suggestions to make soccer/football more entertaining, you either like it or you don’t. After playing this, I really appreciated what Rare did with Kinect Sports Soccer to make it more enjoyable. I will say however, this game will last you. I did happen to pop in FIFA 12 to look for a difference and didn’t notice much, so as long as they don’t completely overhaul FIFA 14, you would probably be fine with this one for years to come, but we know that mostly everything will be overhauled by next year, so count this one as the last FIFA game for this generation but who knows, the actual gameplay itself could still be same and only look better, time will tell.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of FIFA 13
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?