FIFA 13 might not be a complete overhaul of its predecessor, but the latest in the soccer franchise has received several noticeable tweaks to give it more substance than just a roster update.
Developer EA Canada made its biggest changes to the soccer series last year, when the company loudly trumpeted the game's new defending system, improved dribbling and an engine for collisions.
The adjustments were gutsy for the established franchise and improved gameplay quite a bit. But the changes created a few issues — most of which have been addressed in FIFA 13.
Last year, for example, the dribbling system created space, but often there was too much space. There were times when it was too easy to blow by defenders to run up the score. Defense was improved, but the controls made it difficult to be precise in stopping a defender. And once they got past you, well, you were toast.
The controls have been improved in FIFA 13, and it is easier to maneuver your player with or without the ball. But, similar to last year, the overall number of controls for offensive and defensive moves can be overwhelming.
The graphics and presentation are solid. Followers of the franchise will notice the addition of skill games, which allow you to learn or master fundamentals like goal and corner kicks, dribbling and aiming your kicks. It's a rather clever — and addictive — way to increase your skills and pass time before a game actually starts.
Still, this year's game touts a laundry list of other improvements, including new attacking intelligence; tweaks to dribbling; and First Touch Control, a system that creates uncertainty when receiving bad passes. First Touch Control uses a number of factors to determine a player's success in controlling the ball, including its trajectory, defensive pressure, and that player's control and skill.
The changes make attacking better in large part because of the improved artificial intelligence from teammates. The computer has a little more sense, and that comes in handy during career mode when you are locked on your created player. There are still times when you yell at the screen and ask your teammates, "What the heck are you doing?" It just doesn't happen
Much like its predecessor, FIFA 13 offers a variety of modes and features 30 leagues, 500 officially licensed clubs and more than 15,000 players. That certainly helps with long-term playability.
Career mode now includes internationals, and you can play for or manage your favorite clubs.
Career mode offers quite a bit of options with player loans, board interactions and mid-season manager firings. But it fails in providing gamers with a complete experience.
It's lacking compared to games such as EA's Tiger Woods Golf or the NBA 2K franchise. Both games offer more options in customizing a created player and, frankly, do a better job making the gamer feel truly invested in the game. They are both addictive and cause you to come back because the depth goes well beyond the leagues and focuses on a realistic experience.
That said, FIFA 13 provides a stellar experience, and one can only hope the game continues building on that for FIFA 14.
Delano R. Massey: (859) 231-1455. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.