When FIFA series developer EA Canada announced gameplay changes to the franchise earlier this year, including more dribbling control, expanded free kick options, and aggressive off-the-ball AI attacking, fans got excited. At a recent EA Sports event, the developer also revealed additional new features for FIFA 13. The one feature that should make fans anticipate the game's fall release the most?The integration of international play into the the normal club career.
For Club and Country
Whether you chose to play the game's career as a manager or a player (EA removed player/managers this go around), the world stage awaits. Players work their way into their country's national squad through good play, while managers can sign a contract to manage one of FIFA's many international squads. Participation includes friendlies, qualifying, regional tournaments, and a global, World Cup-like tournament that occurs every four years.
Either way, the road is long and not easy. You must perform your normal club duties at the same time, and you only get offers from the top-tier national teams as a manager if your club has a high prestige rating and is performing well. Players have to work their way into the permanent lineup by first proving themselves in lower-priority international callups.
Managers have national side objectives based on the relative prestige of each country's team, and you can be fired or your yearly contract not renewed if the qualifying campaign is looking grim. One aspect of the international experience that is not completely replicated is your manager's relationship with the players. Although FIFA 13's club career adds more intuitive AI where players are attuned to their roles on the squad (i.e. a bench player isn't going to bellyache if he's not in the starting eleven, but he will ask to be a sub or seek playing time for non-essential games), this is absent from your national duties. As manager you can, however, pick your squad for each game from a deep pool of that country's players.
Other than the addition of international duties, new career mode improvements include tweaked player and club AI during the transfer windows. Players are worth more money if they are in good form, and clubs are smarter about letting players go instead of always taking the money. Teams can lure players with a promised role based on that player's ability, and in general, players are more attuned to their place in the overall organization of the team (see above). Finally, you can present counter-offers to teams to create more of a back-and-forth feel to negotiations, and cash-plus-player transactions are allowed.
Hone Your Abilities With FIFA 13 Skill Games
Anyone can learn how to shoot, pass, and tackle within a matter of minutes, but FIFA games also feature several advanced controls that can take years to master. Even though I’ve played the game since its debut on the Sega Genesis, to my embarrassment I’ve never learned the art of the free kick. Whenever I’m set up a few yards outside the goal box, I may as well pass the ball directly to the defender because I’m either going to sail a shot 10 feet over the crossbar or dump a poor excuse for a shot right into the goalie’s body. Developer EA Canada is aware that not everyone has mastered the subtleties of FIFA, so to surface these technical skills and give players a playground to practice, it has created a new set of skill games for FIFA 13.
These 32 new challenges break down into eight disciplines: dribbling, ground passing, lob passing, crossing, shooting, advanced shooting, free kicks, and penalties. Each category has a bronze, silver, and gold test, as well as a skill challenge that creates a match scenario for you to test your abilities. For instance, the bronze level advanced shooting skill has you practicing chip shots over defenders, the silver level tests your one-timing ability, and the gold level requires you to round the keeper with a skilled dribble move before shooting.
Most of the early level skill challenges are easy to execute, but I appreciated being taught the more advanced strategies. The ability to practice free kicks over and over with some light guidance gave me an immediate performance boost. Before long I was correctly curving shots over a wall of players. Practicing penalty shots also taught me that when you successfully hit the sweet spot in the shot meter, you can move your aim around the net freely before the kick is off; I had always assumed the shot would go wherever I was aiming it when I released the shoot button. When you successfully complete these challenges, your score is uploaded to a leaderboard where you can compare your skills with friends and the rest of the world.
The skill games presented to you while your match loads are randomized, but the game also tracks your performance games and will present you with trials that you need to work on. If you want to spend more than just a few minutes practicing, you can also access the skill games in the main menu. –Matt Bertz