FIFA 13 Demo Impressions

One of my favorite sports games ever is FIFA 12, so my expectations were sky-high when I started the demo for FIFA 13. Right away, it is apparent that this game is a much cleaner, well-optimized game than its predecessor. While FIFA 12 had solid menu and interface design, FIFA 13 is even better. Also, FIFA 12 often had to pause for a moment to load many of the menus. FIFA 13 does not have this problem; it’s a small change, but it makes a huge difference.

As long as we’re addressing issues in FIFA 12, we should mention the collision system, which ended up not living up to the hype, and resulting in many ridiculous videos of glitchy collisions. FIFA 13 features much more believable and realistic collisions. Another change that adds realism to this edition is the new unpredictability of the bouncing ball; players will often make bad touches on the ball if it is not passed to them well. It’s hard to get used to after FIFA 12’s magnet-like precision of long balls, but ultimately I think it will help make the game more authentic.

In FIFA 13, offensive AI has received a bit of an overhaul, and it is for the better. Players will actually go on runs now, and when you want to make a lob pass or a through ball, it seems like your teammates are thinking the same thing. At the same time, defensive AI has improved, and if anything, it is even more difficult to score than it was in FIFA 12.

FIFA has always had the best loading screens of any sports game, as they are interactive. FIFA 13 took this a step further by including skill challenges in the loading screen. I would often keep playing the loading screen, trying to hit the most targets on penalty kicks or trying to lob balls over a wall of cardboard boxes and into the goal, instead of actually playing the game that had loaded a long time ago.

One of the best new features in FIFA 13 is the “Match Day” feature, which adjusts the player ratings and health in real-time, matching real-life events. Similar features were introduced several years ago in other sports game, but its great that it is finally in FIFA.

Ultimately, FIFA 13 feels slicker, faster, and more organic than its predecessor. The demo does not include online play, but online play has always been FIFA’s strength, so personally I’m not worried. If you liked FIFA 12, I can all but guarantee that you will like FIFA 13. And if you’ve never played a soccer game, FIFA 13 is probably the best place to start.