When you think of a Soccer (or football for those of you overseas) video game, FIFA is always the first brand that comes to mind. The yearly franchise has been fans’ go to release for the best sim on the market, with EA Sports adding minor changes each year to keep the experience fresh. FIFA ’13 already received critical acclaim when it released earlier this year, and EA hope to continue that with the Wii U version. Does the Gamepad and exclusive features make this launch title worth trying, or does this entry fowl out?
If you should know anything about FIFA ’13, it’s that it is not the same game that we seen for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Sure, there are similarities and the name and cover art are the same, but the Wii U version has taken cuts and is inferior in many ways by comparison, so those who already have this title on a new platform will find very little incentive to go for the new Wii U offering. Since we have that disclaimer out of the way, you should still know that this version is at least solid, offering up the same FIFA stylings that EA Sports have been offering up for years, with a few new features for that nifty Gamepad controller.
Controls have all been mapped on the large, screened controller, and all provide players with a fluid, tight scheme to pass and kick the ball down the field with. Yeah – that’s to be expected, but Nintendo platforms have always offered up sub-par offerings for this particular franchise, so it’s nice to see that some much needed attention was applied in this area, and the Pro and Classic controller are just as ideal for other players to use as well, making for an equally enjoyable experience for all.
The Gamepad’s usage is quite different in itself than tackling the game through the more standard methods. All of the action can be found right on the screen, playing in unison with the television. Yes, that is nice and all, but the most intriguing feature is the menu located on the right side of the Gamepad. With a few simple taps and swipes, one can make substitutions, check stats, and perform minor management duties, giving the player more involvement during each game and deepening the entire experience. A few tabs went a long way, but another addition with the Gamepad also broadens the gameplay a tad. During tense shot situations, the player can waggle their controller to make a net appear, and must aim where they want to kick the ball by tapping the goal in an appropriate spot. This feature is interesting, but taking your hand off the side of the Gamepad to tap the middle of the screen is rather awkward – leading to a steep, yet doable learning curve to master.
What you ultimately have with this package is a smarter and more beefed version of FIFA ’12, and that isn’t really a bad thing. What was a bit troubling however is how many hits this version takes compared to it’s console kin. Precision Dribbling has made the cut, but lacks the refinement it received in this year’s main entry to be noteworthy. The same can be said about other features, such as Tactical Defending. It’s fantastic to see FIFA show what it can truly do on a Nintendo platform, but the Wii U has proved it can do more, leaving us wondering why this version is lacking such boasted upgrades. The online mode has suffered the biggest blow by far. In FIFA 11, Ultimate Team was introduced and allowed players to swap cards and complete tasks online (or offline, if you so choose). Sadly, it has been completely left out of the Wii U version. Also missing is the glorified leaderboard known as Football Club, as well as Match Day and Skill Games.
If you are a hardcore FIFA fan and are hanging your head in disgust, don’t be. While those features are important, their omissions do not break an otherwise high-quality soccer sim. Managing teams with the Gamepad is a huge step forward, letting players control every detail of their own squad of players. The added in co-op also ensures that more than one player will have a lot more options to choose from when it comes to how they want to play. Even though a lot of the game feels dated, players still have a large variety of teams to select, and it’s hard not to have fun during those major games where the score is tied and the clock is winding down. Sure, the social aspects of Football Club and most of the online connected components are going to draw back the main group of fans who live for the franchise, but those who have been only playing on the Wii are in for a treat, as this is the best treatment EA has ever shown a Nintendo platform to date.
Visuals and Audio
Visually, FIFA ’13 is impressive, as the models do a superb job at representing the athletes on the field, while the fields and arenas themselves resemble the actual televised product, making for a more realistic experience overall. Is it up to par with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 offerings of the same game? No. The animations do run smoothly for the most part (I did encounter a few minor frame rate hiccups), as the Impact Engine ensures that collisions and interactions with the AI are all realistic, keeping the physics sharp, toned, and balanced. Fans should still be able to enjoy those little details of the lighting and shadowing that pulls the entire game together as well, as they are one of the main reasons why FIFA ’13 is a great choice of a launch title to use if you want to show friends what the Wii U can display.
Audio wise, there isn’t a lot to brag on, or critique. The music does it’s job and remains subtle, much like the Wii U version of Madden. There is a large variety of tracks to hear, but most are forgettable and to be honest, I turned off the music to hear the crowd and sounds from the field after a short time, as like most sports games, the authentic sound is always more preferable over a random music track. Commentary is also well done, with two commentators constantly calling each play as it happens, as well as detailing injuries and other goings-on during a game.
FIFA ’13 for the Wii U is a great start for the genre on the platform – but it shouldn’t have kept the same title. The Wii U is the new kid on the block, and only Nintendo and a few other developers have tried to push the console thus far to give us a taste of what it can truly do, which is mainly due to the large number of launch ports. EA have delivered FIFA ’12 with a few nice features attached to make up the core of this version, while sticking that name on the box to get the game to sell to the unsuspecting because, let’s face it – no one wants to buy a dated game for their new system. The act is a bit shameful, but ultimately a forgivable offense due to how solid the final product turned out. Yes folks, “FIFA ’13″ for the Wii U is the best Soccer game one could own on a Nintendo platform, but those with other options should await next years’ entry – where EA will hopefully catch all versions up to speed with eachother and make use of Nintendo’s new-found online capabilities.