Despite EA Sports policy of producing a new game in each sport every year, it pushes to make these experiences authentic. This held true for its recent releases like "Madden NFL 13" and "NHL 13." And it continues with "FIFA 13," a game no soccer fan should be without. (It's available on virtually every gaming platform —including PC and handhelds — ranging in price from $40 to $60. We tested the console version.)
As with last year's entry, EA Sports has the gameplay dialed in just about perfectly. Whether you're fighting for possession of the ball with a defender, dribbling with your feet to keep it in play down the field, or thrusting it with a well-timed kick toward the goal, every aspect comes across just as it would in the real sport. EA has also introduced a new momentum system, combined with First Touch Control, that makes passing much easier when it comes to finding an open man and taking shots on goal. (That doesn't mean the defenders won't try for it, though. Watch for open lanes.)
Along with adding better controls, EA Sports has also pushed to make the game look better than ever. Players look more like the real deal, complete with inspiring animations (love the bicycle kicks!). Appearances by football clubs all over the world, including the Tippeligaen league out of Norway and the Barclays Premier League from England, will attract fans, no matter what their preference may be. (And, yes, U.S. fans, all the Major League Soccer teams are included. Go Rapids!) The running audio commentary works great as well, as announcers remember what you did previously in the game (like scoring three goals with a specific player).
The abundant content of "FIFA 13" will keep you busy well through the playoffs. The Career and Seasons modes return, giving you the option to either manage your team or play on it as a "footer" or a goalie. Though being in the shoes of a goalie isn't easy, it's something every soccer fan should try, if only to see what it's like.
In addition, some new skill games have been thrown in. From running through slalom lanes to improve your dribbling (with your feet – this isn't basketball) to working on precision passing, these games cover a lot of ground while remaining fun to play.
Finally, if it's online competition you're after, you can log into the Football Club and challenge other players, while keeping track of your wins and losses, seeing how your friends and competitors fare with the rest of the league. Though some players clearly have an unfair advantage (they've been playing "FIFA" games for years, we're betting), it's still a great place to interact with others – and throw out a few challenges.
Though most of the changes feel more like touch-ups than game changers, "FIFA 13" continues to hold something for all players to love, whether they've been playing soccer for years or are just picking up the game for the first time. That kind of accessibility is always welcome — especially in a worldwide sport.
RATING: 3.5 / 4