With the help of three WW.FIFA13's very own professionals, we analyze the latest sequel to the legendary sports sim title from an esports-focused angle.
Another year, another FIFA. Who would've thought that after twenty editions gamers worldwide would still respond with a sense of sheer excitement? The nostalgia effect. And more surprisingly, how can the hype grow bigger and bigger with every release? A true virtual masterpiece. And even more surprisingly, how did Canadians, a nation where football continues to be referred as “soccer”, come up with the ideal of sports simulation? That I cannot explain.
Apple fanboys can stand in queue all they want, but we geeks have our own type of toys. Fans all over the globe, poor victims of extensive publicity or blind love, couldn't handle their enthusiasm until the big day, and an impressive amount of over 1 million pre-orders suddenly emerged. Records are invading EA from all fronts. 4.6 million tasted the first tease from the company during the short beta release on all platforms. Over 353,000 copies were sold in North America in just a matter of 24 hours. Needless to say they were crushed by disappointment after they found out you couldn't wear helmets and bang headlong into each other. It sill remains a promising figure.
Great numbers indeed. Now, of course, they mostly reflect the anxiety of the average 12-year-old kid, and don't really justify a game's appeal. For the casual gamer, anything with a shiny label and a price-tag over 60$ is considered interest-captivating material. This article won't guide you through your uncertainty of whether to buy the game or not. It addresses to the people who doubt the game's prosperity as an e-sport, for those who ask themselves “what has changed, and how will it impact the competitive scene?”. With the help of our FIFA veterans, we tried to dig a little bit further into the subject.
Gameplay, probably the core element of any e-sport as such. Since the release of the second last sequel, success or failure was sustained by a luck-reliance factor. Its presence still prevails in the new release, although on a much lower intensity. Additionally, EA have introduced a certain unpredictability to the actions, perhaps to vary the monotonous same old patterns.
Ovidiu “Ovvy” Patrascu notes that certain modifications have brought a huge improvement. “The LT+RT combination that gave the attacker a big advantage has now changed,” remarks the Rumanian beast. It hasn't been nerfed entirely, and can still be used in certain situations, but its efficiency has degraded.
The game becomes more demanding. “The first touch function has a huge impact; the individual skill of a player will make the difference between a 2 meters first touch or a 50 cm first touch”, he states. The lower-tier player will find difficult to master the art of controlling the ball. A dubious decision.
Another significant adjustment from FIFA 12 is the amelioration of the engine's “intelligence”. Strikers no longer irrationally adapt an Inzaghi style-of-play and don't stand past the offside line as soon as they start receiving the ball. Eureka for less annoying whistle sounds! They have developed the ability of making smarter runs without the necessity of pressing the second player button, opening the door to new combinations.
Messi's picture is on the cover for a reason. The gameplay now leans towards a more aggressive and fast-phased approach, pretty similar to the one good ol' Barcelona adapts on the actual pitch. Crosses seem to have deteriorated, and aren't a viable strategy according to the two-time WCG silver medalist.
His teammate, Stanislav “WickyBG” Chakarov, was mostly impressed by the great sense of realism that has been injected to the game. “It's like real football - realistic movements from the players, realistic shoots, passes” he applauds. This shining image gets overshadowed however by the ridiculous addition of the “first touch”. Both members agreed that EA's attempts of getting the game closer to reality all go in vain by one simple illusion-of-necessity being unnecessarily implemented.
Things have been spiced up. FIFA13 encourages players to pick from the vast choice of equally balanced teams. Say goodbye to the colourless, boring, dull Real Madrid vs Real Madrid tediousness. The doors open to a wide variety of match-ups, leading to new tactics, formations, adaptations, etc.
The moment of truth. When asked whether they preferred this sequel to its older brother, FIFA12, the players derived with different answers. Ovvy didn't welcome the new title with an open mind. His response was characterized by a high degree of scepticism, somewhat containing more negative remarks than positive; mostly shocked by EA's decision to introduce such an irritating feature like the first touch control. Krasimir “Krasi” Ivanov was slightly more optimistic. He admits there's certain gaps to it, but certifies that it is still extremely enjoyable to play.
“I can't reply to this question now ”, said countryman WickyBG. “It's too early to give a conclusive opinion”. His teammates all ended on a similar note.