I decided to celebrate the most controversial ending to a NFL contest in the history of Monday Night Football by making a short walk down to GameStop in order to make my first ever midnight video game purchase. I've pre-ordered titles such as FIFA 13 in the past, but I could never before be bothered to journey out at 12:00 am to grab a game I could just pick up later on that same morning. Since I was awake anyway and was also genuinely excited to play the latest edition of the FIFA series, I completed a short trek on a brisk fall evening and enjoyed a bit of late-night gaming.
There are a few things I want to point out before going into my thoughts on FIFA 13. I've largely played using Major League Soccer clubs, partly because I'm a fan of the New York Red Bulls and also because I wanted to see how other teams in the league stacked up against RBNY. While I've dabbled a bit in online play on FIFA 13, I haven't yet done enough to, in my mind, adequately speak about that aspect of the game.
3 immediate thoughts on FIFA 13: Big difference
The FIFA 13 demo featured some of the best clubs in the world, such as Manchester City and Juventus, and thus I hadn't had an opportunity to play with 3-star teams (such as the Red Bulls) until the release of the actual game. Perhaps it's just me, but I've found that the difference between elite and "meh" teams when it comes to overall talent and skill level is much greater than it was in FIFA 11 and FIFA 12. This is especially noticeable in the improved attacking intelligence and the new first touch control system.
It took me roughly two games on the demo to get used to FIFA 13 first touch control using a player such as Andrea Pirlo. Things haven't been as smooth for me right off the bat when using MLS teams/players. Most notably, the "lesser skilled" players in the game are unrealistically bad when it comes to controlling the most simple of passes.
I'm all for FIFA 13 being more like real life football/soccer. Because of that, it doesn't bother me seeing an over the top ball taking a wild and somewhat cruel bounce off the foot of a defender who is rated in the 60s. No winger, not even one rated in the low 60s/high 50s, should have any trouble controlling a soft short pass while unmarked and making a light jog down the field. I've noticed this occurring even when I've removed my finger from the sprint trigger. At least CPU opponents have also somewhat comically run into this same problem during my first several matches, making it a little less annoying.
3 immediate thoughts on FIFA 13: Great addition
I briefly mentioned the skill games in a short piece about the FIFA 13 demo, but I really can't say enough good things about these new additions to the series. The "one man vs. the 'keeper" screen that appeared before every match had long ago gotten old, and I've found that the skill challenges have rotated nicely (i.e. I haven't had the "Ground Pass" challenge appear time after time after time). Completing the "Advanced Shooting" drill with a lower-rated player even helped me beat a 'keeper with a chip shot while using Sebastien Le Toux during a game.
FIFA 13 skill games really are fun AND educational.
One odd note about the skill games that appear before matches: I have never, in both the demo and the actual game, had the "Lob Ball" challenge pop up before a match. I didn't even know it existed until I opened the Skill Games tab found on the main screen.
3 immediate thoughts on FIFA 13: Injuries
A tip for those who are fans of career mode: The "injury prone" description for certain players is no joke. I've thus far played five total matches, three friendlies and two season games, in career mode. I've witnessed a total of seven injuries (opposing sides included), two of which occurred off the ball without any contact causing the issue, and one of my team's players picked up a knock in training that will keep him sidelined for two weeks. The real life Red Bulls were without half of their starting lineup earlier this season because of injury woes, but I only need art imitating reality so much. I'm hoping that I won't have to turn the "Injury" slider down into the teens just so I don't have to sign 50 players in order to have a match-fit squad.