Generally speaking, there are only two ways to play Fifa. The first is to attempt exciting, attacking, end to end stuff. The type where you dribble past three defenders after a razor-sharp over the head through ball before a delicious finesse shot to glide it into the top corner of the net. One member of the loaded office, for example, describes his style of play as a mix between the flair of 1970s Brazil and the tik-taka of 2010 Spain. The other, favoured by this loadedwriter, is to play like a complete and utter tosser. Before the whistle even goes, you flick your tactics to defensive, camp your five-man back line in front of your goal and pick your timing before launching an ugly, Sam Allardyce-inspired long ball to Drogba to smash it home from 20 yards out. Then, naturally, twisting your tactics toultra defensive to secure a very smugly satisfying 1-0 victory. The good news then, is that the new Fifa goes further than ever before to reward stylish football, making it far tougher for those park the bus scumbags. Bugger.
When we first picked up the controller for a quick preview of a near-finished version, the first thing that struck us is how much tighter the game feels. Players’ first touch seems far more realistic, the balance between attack and defense is a little more weighted towards the former than the last game, while the graphics look far more defined than in 2012- especially on a flashy HD tele.
The first major gameplay change is the free kick system, which has been given a major overhaul. It’s still – rightly – near impossible to score a direct shot for all but those with way too much time on their hands, but now the developers have included a series of options to get players ready to make a run for a perfectly-timed through ball by playing it sideways. A tap of the left trigger will send out a second man to make a run while the right trigger brings out a third. Opponents meanwhile, can counter play by easily adding or losing players from the wall, allowing you to bulk up when Ronaldo steps up to take a shot, or plot a rapid counter-attack. And when you have nearly managed to peg it up the opposition’s half, the new ridiculously-titled ‘complete dribbling’ kicks in to make moving forward even more realistic. Just keep hold of the two trigger buttons to give your players close control and the amazing ability to sneakily skip sideways past players.
The biggest change though, is how players move to support an attack. In 2012, players would often be too slow to bomb forward, leaving you holding up the ball to get enough men in the box – wasting enough precious seconds to help the oppo’s defense regroup. Players can now get forward much quicker, and perform runs which potentially draw defenders out of position. When loaded took Chelsea for a quick game against Fulham, trusty Lamps got himself into far more positions to score. However, that has been balanced out with a more life-like game engine which measures how players collide with each other off the ball, giving stronger, tougher defenders a real advantage in winning possession back from nippy, smaller strikers.
It’s the little touches that make the game stand out, replacing the old pre-match duel between the striker and the keeper with a series of challenges that help your in match skills. The still flawless commentary, much-improved menu screen and brilliant new ability to actually swear at the ref (using the Kinect sensor) causes players to rush over as all hell kicks off. The revamped career mode lets you play as a manager at international level and there’s even an iPhone app that lets you wheel and deal in the transfer market on the go. It’ll be out at the end of September, meaning that all the summer transfer window signings will be complete, and if the finished version plays anything like what loadedsaw, it should avoid the how-on-earth-did-they-fuck-it-up collapse of Pro Evo in 2008. All that’s left then, is for loaded to work out just who in the Chelsea team we should lump the ball up to now, seeing as Drogba’s left.
FIFA 13 is out now on Xbox and PS3