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FIFA 13/Official Home of the N7 Dragons


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Every year the EA Sports team headed up by Executive Producer David Rutter unveils a new FIFA game and every year it’s such a dramatic step forward from the previous year’s release, it leaves its predecessor in the dust. This year continues that trend. At the time of its release, FIFA 12 felt like – and probably was – the pinnacle of the football sim genre. Next to FIFA 13, it feels outdated and unrealistic.

This is down to the fact that FIFA 13’s gameplay has benefited from myriad tucks and tweaks, all aimed at achieving the same overriding objective: to bring FIFA’s on-pitch action ever closer to resembling the real thing. According to Rutter, the guiding principle behind the changes made to FIFA 13 is encapsulated in a quote from Real Madrid manager Jose Mourihno, made at the end of a match that saw Chelsea march into the Champions League final after defeating Barcelona.

“One of the great things about football,” he said, “is that it’s unpredictable.”

“When we heard [Mourihno say] that, we thought ‘Thank God!’”, says Rutter. “It’s pretty much what we’d set out to do with FIFA since last Christmas. We wanted to capture the drama through the unpredictability that is football.

Attacking team AI is much stronger in FIFA 13.

“What we’re talking about are those unexpected moments that get you out of your seat cheering,” he continues. “I’m not talking about random stuff – in video games that’s just irritating. I mean that, in FIFA 13, when things go off script, it happens for a reason. They make sense after the fact – after that moment when you just weren’t expecting them.”

To that end, Rutter and his team have added a couple of features that play on the relationship the beautiful game has with the gods of fate and chance.

The first and most noticeable change from FIFA 12 governs the individual players’ first-touch capabilities. As early as last year, players with a rating as low as 60 could receive a lobbed pass with ease, the ball sticking itself to their feet like their boots were made of felt, and the ball of Velcro. Now authentic ball physics have been tossed into the mix.

“First touch control is the equivalent change to the game that tactical defending was last year,” says Rutter. “We’re calculating the outcome of a pass based on the context of what the ball is doing – whether it’s spinning, what speed it’s travelling at – and what the player is doing – whether he’s running, whether he’s stationary, whether someone’s pushing him and whether he can successfully control the ball at his feet.”

When players are on the receiving end of a lobbed pass, the ball bounces off their head and body, and it’s down to each individual players’ skill level as to whether they’re able to bring the ball under control quickly. Not only does this make long passes a more risky proposition, it makes defending a potential nightmare.

If players have a defender intercepting a long ball with opposing strikers bearing down on them, they’re more advised to punt the ball into the stands rather than try to finesse it to a teammate. Unless the defender in question has the requisite skill level to control the ball, they risk handing a scoring opportunity to the opposing side.

Their defending efforts aren’t helped much by the game’s re-jigged attacking AI, which jettisons the indecisive attitude from yesteryear, and actually makes a concerted effort to stay onside.

“Last year, [players] sometimes didn’t really feel like their entire team was involved in the attacking effort,” says Rutter, “so we’ve done a lot of work with off-the-ball runs with the AI. [it’s able to] to stay onside on attack a lot better and there’s a real feeling that the team is attacking with you. That makes the whole attacking dynamic of the game a lot more enjoyable.”

Players' skills impact the way they're able to control the ball a lot more.

Players also have a lot more control over the ball thanks to the tweaked dribbling mechanic. By holding in both triggers (or R2 and L2 on a PS3) and using the left stick, they can activate FIFA 13’s precision dribbling mechanic, which is built off the back of FIFA Street’s gameplay engine. Each individual players’ overall score is called into account – Christiano Ronaldo is far better at this sort of thing than Kolo Toure – but even at base level the agency provided by the engine is superb.

The new dribbling mechanic opens up a whole new one-on-one player-battle for possession of the ball. Players are better able to fake out opponents and create crossing and scoring opportunities based on their ability to outfox their opponents on a one-to-one basis. This is tempered somewhat by the new impact engine; aside from slide tackles, players can now push and shove opponents off the ball. There’s a new physicality to FIFA 13, that really comes into its own in the game’s set-pieces.

In previous FIFA titles, when players were awarded a free-kick, they’d either try a finesse shot towards one corner of the net or blast towards the goalmouth and hope for the best. FIFA 13’s free-kick set up offers players a whole host of new options. Players now have the choice to have between one and three players fake-taking a kick before the selected player steps up to hammer the free-kick home. This also enables them to pass to players in the attacking set-up, rather than have to commit to a shot on goal.

The new attacking options are counterbalanced by the choices the defending player now has. Apart from being able to add a player to a wall, and move the wall forward, defenders are free to mark threatening players or simply charge the kicker. The whole free-kick scenario has been deepened for both the attacking and defending sides and is all the better for it. Players can even edit their own attacking and defending strategies based around free-kicks.

The Player Impact Engine feels much more realistic this time.

“We have a massive tool in the game that acts as a tactics editor”, says Rutter. “We put it in there a couple of years ago and it turns out that, while it’s fantastically fun to play with, it was probably a bit too hardcore for people. This is why the new tactical free-kicks is there – for more casual players, who want to be able to do this immediately.

“But you can spend a couple of days, probably, figuring out in the editor exactly what you’re going to do with every player on the pitch and how they’ll react in a free-kick scenario.”

Graphically, FIFA 13 is certainly a step forward on its predecessor and its impact engine has been tweaked as well. In FIFA 12, players were often treated to the odd unintentionally hilarious collision animation, which made players fly up in the air as though they’d just trodden on a landmine. FIFA 13’s impact engine makes everything look far more authentic; when a player crashes to the ground, it looks eye-wateringly painful – even if the player in question bounces back to his feet seconds later.

While these changes, when described separately, probably don’t sound like a massive upheaval, on the pitch they translate into a whole new way of playing FIFA 13. Quite frankly, FIFA 12 players are likely to experience teething problems when they manage to get their hands on the game this September. The new first-touch physics require some getting used to, the improved AI adds speed and aggression to attacks and the new free-kick and defend options can prompt small breaks in matches as each player weighs up their options. The only immediate win here is the new dribbling mechanics, as they agency they give to players is an absolute boon.

But if our experience is anything to go by, FIFA 13’s new gameplay is worth getting to grips with. Once players factor in the changes and impact on the pitch action, FIFA 13 plays incredibly well. It feels like the next evolutionary step for EA’s football sim and, as is the case every year, after an hour or so at the new game’s controls, going back to last year’s iteration feels wrong in a way.

Rutter and his team are tight-lipped about any other new content slated for FIFA 13 in the way of modes, DLC or online challenges. For now, though, the most important aspect of their game – the on-pitch action – looks stunning and this should prove a solid foundation to build on. Roll on September…


Unpredictability is coming to FIFA.. Hopefully this time around it wont be due to insane AI decisions..

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Looking forward to every online player having 3 fake free kick takers every single time.

I really hope they make playing against the AI more enjoyable because I like career mode, but it does sound like a great step forward in terms of actual proper footie simulation.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's incredible how simple and clean you can make the cover by including just one player rather than several. Look at the cover for Fifa 12 I got:


Way Messier.

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All I want is for them to bring back the ability to have CPU vs. CPU matches in Career Mode. Why they got rid of it in the first place is beyond me.

I hope you don't mean so you can watch the CPU play games against itself.

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All I want is for them to bring back the ability to have CPU vs. CPU matches in Career Mode. Why they got rid of it in the first place is beyond me.

I hope you don't mean so you can watch the CPU play games against itself.

This is the guy that plays 20 minute matches.

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I'd like to see pro career mode with more depth so you actually earn your spot in the Starting XI and not just get to start every time regardless of your overall ability compared to your teammates.

And more depth in commentary so I don't have to hear "lol remember that fight you got in once" three times every single time I play as Norwich.

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EA has announced what it is calling the "most extensive global pre-order incentive in the history of the FIFA franchise".

FIFA 13 Ultimate Edition will be available for one day only on 28 September 2012, the day on which FIFA 13 is released.

So what do you get if you conscientiously pre-order or run out to the shops in late September with wild abandon? Well, you get one FIFA Ultimate Team pack per week for 24 weeks, which equates to over £15 in extra content. Each pack contains 12 items, from players to stadiums, balls and kits. All players bundled will have a rating of 75 and over, and each pack will also contain one "rare item", such as enhanced player attributes and the "most coveted players".

But that's not all folks. There are two more pre-order incentives in the shape of EA Sports Football Club pre-order and adidas All-Star Team pre-order. Football Club is available to those who order through Amazon, and will let players claim in-game items such as special celebrations, Virtual Pro attribute boosts, and extra matches in Head-to-Head Seasons mode. Meanwhile, the adidas All-Star Team pre-order is available to those who order through GAME. The eponymous All-Star team will be unlocked, consisting of the world's 23 best players, including new cover-star Lionel Messi (he's quite good).

So three pre-order options, really. Ultimate Team based.. Pro Clubs based and All Star Team based.

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