From the moment you first set foot in one of FIFA Soccer 13’s beautifully detailed stadiums, it’s clear that EA’s latest football outing isn’t the revelation that its predecessor was. Sure, it’s still feature-packed and entertaining, but where FIFA Soccer 12 revolutionised and updated the classic FIFA formula in some wonderfully inventive ways, FIFA 13 merely maintains it. Its long list of improvements–enhanced physics, AI, player physicality, a better defending system, a tweaked Ultimate Team mode, and a new Skill Games mode–are welcome and well-implemented changes. But on the pitch, it’s hard to tell that you’re playing a dramatically different or better game than FIFA 12.
Indeed, some of FIFA 13’s new marquee features are mere tweaks of those introduced in FIFA 12, one of which is the infamous player impact engine. It has been overhauled in an attempt to reduce those odd, fumbling, and sometimes-hilarious collisions that players made as they bounced over each other on the pitch like rag dolls. But while there’s certainly a noticeable improvement in the physics system, with far less slipups, it’s not infallible; there’s still the odd glitch here and there as players do inhuman backflips over others and flop along the pitch like weird anthropomorphic fish.
Better are the changes to the dribbling system, which have been inspired by the work done on FIFA Street. Now you can swirl the ball around a player’s feet using the analogue stick, teasing defenders with cheeky dummies, stops, and skilful flicks. Pulling off such manoeuvres is so very satisfying, and this system works great with another tweak that means players no longer have to face the direction in which you want them to dribble. This makes play look and feel much more natural, letting you actively shield the ball or ensure that you’re always facing the goal when zipping around defenders for the perfect strike.