Sports games aren’t usually our thing, but when a new console comes out and a specific sports game is getting a ton of hype, we perk up and pay attention. Such has been the case for FIFA Soccer 13. Everyone who has any interest in sports gaming is talking about FIFA, so we decided to put it through its corner kicks and volleys with the Wii U version of the game.
As you might expect, the Wii U version of the game is hitting shelves over a month after the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game did back in late-September. We can’t really knock the game for that, as it likely would’ve still been a launch title had the Wii U debuted in September, so it’s kind of a non-issue.
The press sheet for FIFA Soccer 13 boasts both award-winning gameplay and HD graphics, both of which are completely accurate. The game has won numerous awards, as it should have being a smooth and storied franchise, and the graphics look incredible, if not just the slightest bit washed out.
Where FIFA really shines is in the variety of gameplay. More than 500 (yes, five hundred!) football clubs are playable here, and all officially licensed, to boot. There are also tons of authentic stadiums from around the world to play in which probably won’t make a huge difference since a big green pitch tends to look like a big green pitch, but nonetheless, they’re there.
Other variety in FIFA has to do with controlling gameplay and managing your team. You can of course play through a quick game in FIFA as a player, but that’s been true of every soccer game since the birth of soccer games. In this EA Sports title, you can also take complete control as the manager of your team and make real-time decisions about plays and passing. The best part of this is that everything takes place using the GamePad. It’s a bit gimmicky to have half-time talks with your players, since nothing you say will really change their play style (you’re the one controlling them at the end of the day), but the concept is neat.
There are a lot of control variations in FIFA as well, which makes sure you find a play style that you’re more than comfortable with so that you become a pro at hitting headers quicker than you would be able to otherwise. Unfortunately, we found the controls to be a bit bogged down since the GamePad made it cumbersome to make quick flicks of the triggers and shoulder buttons, alongside awkwardly-placed analog sticks for a game like this.
Despite these control issues, we never found that the passing mechanic in FIFA was less than stellar. Greater than nine times out of ten, the ball will go where you intend it to go, which is probably one of the most important factors in a game like this. You can also make decisive passes with precision, as EA Sports points out, as well as use the touch screen for even more control.
Using the GamePad as a management menu is actually very intuitive and feels like it should always be the way we play the game. Of course, for gameplay, as mentioned above, it makes more sense to go with something like the Pro Controller, but having two controllers isn’t exactly ideal.
One of the biggest features of a soccer game is the overacting and soap opera-style complaining of the players on the pitch. True to real-life, EA Sports has managed to fit this drama onto their game disc, including storylines that play out in the (make-believe) press days after the game, a very nice touch for what could have simply been another sports game.
Graphics on the Wii U version of the game are certainly up to par with the other versions, though we didn’t test the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version extensively (we’ve seen it played before our eyes, though). That is to say that the graphics in FIFA 13 are stellar, although something about them seems somehow faded or dull. They’re very smooth and we seldom noticed a hiccup in framerate – though there were a couple – but something is just off in colouration somehow.
The audio on the other hand, is all beauty. Commentary is quick and sharp, and you never notice a difference in the pitch or tune of the presenters. It really is as if the entire game is being commented on live because everything is so superbly recorded. There is not a single second of audio we can knock here and if you have any inkling to try out this game, the audio is quite the amazing feat of engineering.
The online experience in FIFA Soccer 13 is quite easily the biggest lacking component of an otherwise excellent game. It isn’t bad to the point that it’s unplayable, but we definitely prefer the Xbox 360 version of the game for its quick and easy set-up in matches. This actually has more to do with the Wii U’s implementation of online services that EA’s connection to them with FIFA Soccer 13, but it’s worth noting that the game doesn’t do anything to make them more bearable.
At its core, FIFA Soccer 13 is a great game and the best in the series as far as actual soccer games are concerned. We can’t say there’s much originality here, but there certainly is a lot of variety in gameplay and there are a few choices to make regarding how you want to play, and that’s never a bad thing.
Editor’s Note: This review is based on a retail copy of the Wii U version of FIFA Soccer 13 provided by EA Sports.