I'm no video game expert, nor am I somebody who routinely dominates opponents in FIFA 12 during online play. I am a huge fan of the series, however, and I'll be picking the game up as soon as it is released next week. Those of you who have been obsessed with the FIFA 13 demo as have I probably won't find any groundbreaking information in this piece. These are merely the thoughts of somebody who has probably played the FIFA 13 demo a bit too much since it was released.
FIFA 13 demo review: Before the match
The skill challenges, such as attempting to hit targets on free kicks and from the spot, are a nice change from the "beat the goalkeeper" screen that appeared before matches would load in older versions of the video game. These should, with the release of the official game, make for some great "beat that" challenges among friends. The actual introduction to the match is a bit much for my liking, especially the lead-in song that makes me feel like I'm about to see a breaking news bulletin. It's a nice touch that does offer a bit of realism, but I can see myself routinely skipping past this montage as I've done in previous versions of the game.
FIFA 13 demo review: Two main points
Two major talking points among FIFA fans during the summer were the improved attacking intelligence and the redesigned first touch control. After playing many matches in the demo, I can say that both are as advertised and both make for quite a different gaming experience than what's found in FIFA 12. One of the first things I noticed is that it's now very easy to beat opponents on counterattacks while playing a more aggressive style and/or when using an attack-based formation. This back-and-forth action, if replicated in the actual game, could create the most fun online and ultimate team matches you've ever played. While I've found that defenders get caught on the break more often than in older versions of the game, they also do well in getting back and closing down in the final third.
Regarding the first touch control, I'll merely echo the statements made by other gamers in forums and on websites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube: Get used to laying off the sprint button, especially while tracking down over the top and through balls. The ball really does fly off of a player's foot if you keep the sprint trigger down while receiving passes, and it's something that can be quite annoying until you adjust your style of play. Once you get the hang of it, though, you can use the first touch control to get around a defender without needing blinding pace, something that is extremely useful while in the penalty area.
FIFA 13 demo review: Old problems
While playing FIFA 13, I noticed several problems that will be too familiar to fans of the series. The so-called "sweaty goals" haven't gone anywhere, and they're still too easy to complete and annoying to defend against. Officials still get offside calls wrong from time to time. Some may see that as the game having more realism, but I just find it as obnoxious as I do a CPU offensive lineman being flagged for a holding penalty in Madden. Contain defending has been toned down a bit, but I can promise that many online gamers will still find it to be more bad than good.
One unique issue I've run into over the past week is that players from both teams get injured far too often. I'm not talking about a guy taking a knock and being down on the pitch for 10-20 seconds. I haven't tracked the official stats since first acquiring the demo, but it sure feels like players were picking up severe injuries (i.e. broken bones) in over 50 percent of games. My hope is that this is just to show through the demo that such injuries do occur in matches, as it could quickly get very annoying, especially during career mode. The sideline updates on such injuries that occur during games are a nice touch, though.
FIFA 13 demo review: Overall
My advice for those who haven't already done so is simple: Get and play the FIFA 13 demo before jumping right into the actual game. Even playing a handful of matches on the demo will better prepare you for the changes that have been made in the past year. It should be pointed out that there are always some tweaks made between the release of the demo and the time when a game reaches stores. Remember that while messing around with this demo. I don't believe FIFA 13 will at all be a perfect soccer/football game, but those who have enjoyed the series in the past should have no serious concerns about this year's edition.