The FIFA series has been on amazing upward spiral over the past few years with vast improvements in each release. FIFA 12 saw some incredible enhancements to the game with a new player impact system, new dribbling and a whole bunch of other features. With FIFA 12 being such a solid offering it was anyone’s guess just how much more EA could improve the game. Well we had some hands on with the game at E3 and were blown away.
Producer David Rutter gave a short presentation highlighting some of the gameplay improvements which will be found in FIFA 13. In brief, Rutter noted that EA want to present a game with the drama and unpredictability of real life football. Improvements include new attacking intelligence from AI, complete dribbling control, perfect touch control, a fixed up impact engine and new tactical free kicks. All the improvements sounded very promising on paper, but the true question lies in playing the game, and despite initially being a tad sceptical, we were very pleasantly surprised.
FIFA 13 improves on just about every problem that was in FIFA 12. Starting with attacking intelligence, the players on your team constantly make intelligent, realistic runs going forward. Players no longer stroll offside constantly and rather they check their runs to receive the ball. They also make dummy runs, stutter runs, change directions in a flash and generally make space for better passes. Another aspect is that AI players ‘think ahead’, meaning if they can see where a pass might end up they will make the run in anticipation. The attacking intelligence is nothing short of amazing, and something the series has lacked in the past. It worked perfectly, and this was just a pre-alpha code.
While precision dribbling was introduced last year, complete dribbling makes it even better. The skills are far more fluid and are not reliant only on pulling the trick stick. Little turns no longer take ages to perform and work excellently when trying to get out of a tight corner. The explosiveness of turns and bursts of pace to get past players is more realistic than ever.
The aspect of ‘perfect touch’ was slightly worrying as it focuses on a player’s first touch control depending on the situation. It was unclear whether the poor first touch was going to be totally random or if players would have control over the situation. Rutter convinced us that it was dependant on position, speed towards the ball, the player’s skill and a few other attributes, but the proof was in the playing. The first touch control has been improved so much that going back to playing FIFA 12 seems nearly impossible. Sprint too fast towards a ball and your control will be a little less accurate than if you slow down. That kind of detail in mechanic is incredible.
The impact engine introduced last year was effective, but far too buggy. Players collided and were sent sprawling all over the place. There was also a huge imbalance when comparing how AI players reacted to impact to how player-controlled players reacted, with frustration usually the winner in these situations. This is no longer the case as players look to avoid contact rather than running into an opponent and getting stuck behind them. Most impressive was a little spin the attacking players do when they are about to collide, that look for a bit more space was game changing.
Defending has also improved considerably. That ridiculous foot planting tackle where your player just stands still no longer exists as infuriatingly as before. Players will contain attackers and the tackle animations work far better. If you put in a tackle and miss the ball your player can still attempt to block the path of the attacker which again makes things more fluid and realistic.
There are many more improvements in the game not mentioned and this was only an early build. If it is the direction the game is taking then FIFA fans, and football fans are in for an absolute treat this year. EA have taken their game to the next level, perhaps even two levels ahead of the previous edition. FIFA 13 was one of the most enjoyable experiences at E3 and we cannot wait for the full release later this year. If you have any questions please feel free to ask and we will provide as much information as possible.