Review: FIFA 13 – EA stay top of the table with latest offering

Name: FIFA 13

Platform tested: Xbox 360

Score: 9/10

The best-selling sports game in history is back with a new edition – FIFA 13 has hit the shelves and everyone who knows what to expect from the EA release will not be disappointed.

It looks good and plays better. It’s still the best way to vicariously stuff your rivals, whether that’s another team or a friend on the online service.

FIFA 13 plays like a souped-up version of last year’s effort – everything is slightly better, a little sharper, a touch more glitz here or a tweak there. Player movements are more natural, passes strike off the foot more crisply and the crowd noise is more authentic.

Given a fresh coat of paint for the new season, FIFA 13 is as far from a major overhaul of the series as it’s possible to get. Long-time players of the game will be able to immerse themselves in it right away with barely a beat missed.

Anyone new to the franchise should have no trouble either. The defending might take a bit of getting used to – although it’s nowhere near as maddening as last year – but like the rest of the gameplay, it’s all about timing.

The biggest change to the way the game plays is seen in the introduction of first-touch technique. The days of every player having immaculate control are over, and while it may be frustrating to see your centre-back stumble when bring the ball down, it’s at least realistic.

That realism means there’ll be times the ball runs loose and you’re as likely to benefit as not, depending on your team. It’s an interesting feature that makes the game play scruffier but at the same time better.

It’s far from the finished article though as some of the bounces of the ball bare little scrutiny but it’s not rough as to be irksome and since EA have improved the collision detection between players in this version from the last, next year’s offering should iron out the kinks.

Control all-round seems to be improved, with dribbling skills more wide-ranging – perhaps a legacy of FIFA Street – and free-kicks are easier to handle as well.

The training mini-games can offer a nice diversion from the main game, too, as well as genuinely helping your ability to play. Getting a gold rating on all of them will take some time but it’ll be fun – and it gives the player something to do while waiting for the match to load as well.

Martin Tyler and Alan Smith of Sky Sports and ITV’s Clive Tyldsley and Andy Townsend are back, with added Geoff Shreeves and Alan McInally to give match day a bit more depth. Some of the lines of commentary are recycled, which is disappointing, but there’s new material too – and a nice touch sees the duos break away from their conversation in a natural way when the action hits the goalmouth.

The usual array of tournaments is back, as well as the Be A Pro and Career modes, combining with Ultimate Team to offer an almost endless array of ways to play the game – you’ll still be loving it when the title is decided in May.

Find FIFA 13 on your preferred computer console here

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