- Publisher: EA Sports
- Developer: EA Canada
- ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
- Genre: Sports
- Pros: Fluid Animation, Deep Modes, Nice Learning Curve
- Cons: Unlikely to Convert Those Not in Love with Soccer
EA Sports has mastered the art of not rocking the boat when it comes to their hit franchises. In other words, "FIFA Soccer 13" is not going to startle those who love "FIFA Soccer 12." You'll be able to pick up and play just as you did last year and most of the changes in this edition will come upon you slowly. If your mom or roommate catches you playing, they may not even notice a difference. These games are like annual releases of car models -- they may often cosmetically look the same and it takes getting behind the wheel to really sense the differences in handling and overall performance. Once you do start "driving" the new edition of "FIFA," you can feel the improvements and enhancements in what is arguably the most realistic soccer simulation ever produced.
Electronic Arts loves to come up with catchy, scientific-sounding names for their new sports game mechanics. This time it's something called "First Touch Control," which gives the game an even-more fluid sense of motion and response to things like momentum and ball movement. There's also a new degree of A.I. in that players on both sides of the field behave more organically and naturally than in past editions. And they also stick to position much more than they have in soccer games in the past. There's a clear emphasis on increasing the A.I. in such a way that makes it feel like the players are working together and thinking a few moves ahead instead of just responding when they have the ball.
These enhancements are most notable in the spectacular "Career Mode," which allows you to take one player and build them into a superstar. I think "FIFA" is at its best in this mode, when you're controlling one player and seeing how seamlessly your avatar is working with his teammates and how your opponents are working against you. I didn't really get the love for "FIFA" in team mode and I'll admit that a lot of that is probably based on my lack of expertise in the sport of soccer to a degree that shows itself more prominently when I'm being asked to control an entire team. When it's just me working in and out of offense and defense, the realism of "FIFA Soccer 13" really shines. And scoring in "Career Mode"? It's one of the most satisfying experiences in simulated sports.
As with all modern EA Sports games, "FIFA Soccer 13" comes with a wide variety of modes. You can just pick up and play or you can get deeper in a variety of modes. There are standards like "Career" and "Season" and EA has now standardized the "Ultimate Team" mode across most of its games. "FIFA" includes something called "EA SPORTS Football Club" which uses real-life headlines and events in the sport to feed a community of sports fans with new challenges and updated player abilities. "FIFA" wants you to be able to play along with the actual events of your favorite sport.
There's a deep degree of authenticity in terms of the options given to players of "FIFA Soccer 13" as the game includes a stunning 30 leagues, 500 officially licensed clubs, and more than 15,000 players. You could never play them all. But it's the devotion to the sport that separates the best sports games from the lackluster ones. At every beat, it feels like the developers of "FIFA Soccer 13" know and love their sport. They definitely know it better than I do.