For the past few years, the FIFA series has been at the top of the totem pole of soccer games and sports games in general. The main reason is their attention to detail and commitment to releasing as polished of a game as possible. While some other sports games might have to focus solely on either on polishing old features or adding new ones, FIFA continuously gets both done and done well. FIFA 13 is no exception. Hit the jump to see what new features have been added for this year and how they feel.

The first thing you realize when you pop the game disk in is the immense production value EA Canada has put into it. The music selection, EA Sports Trax, is phenomenal as usual. Little skill games have been added to loading screens where you can practice all the different moves and techniques that will improve your game. Everything from adding splashes of color to the menus to adding ESPN intro graphics before matches makes the game pretty to look at. While playing Career mode, any important club, league, or world news is presented as a little pop-up that draws you attention to it instead of burying it in some news menu.

Visual improvements aren’t the only upgrade. The gameplay feels much tighter in this year’s version. The new First Touch Control system adds more realism to the game. Gone are the days where most of your passes are completed cleanly. You now have to be more precise with your placement and power. The main complaint players had with previous installments was the lack of aggressiveness from your teammates on runs. There are still a few instances of teammates just standing still while you through pass them the ball, but for the most part this annoying legacy issue seems to be taken care of. Your teammates finally help you out on long runs and position themselves better for crosses or drawing away defenders. Set pieces have gotten a big improvement this year with ability to add a third kicker and having them go on dummy runs. If you’re on the other side of a free kick, you can adjust the number of people on your wall or send a man running at the ball to disrupt the shot or intercept the pass.

With all the new improvements and polishing of old flaws, it’s no wonder that EA claims it to be “the biggest game launch of 2012” and “the biggest sports videogame launch of all time” according to their internal sales data. While it is a very polished game, there were a few missteps. With all the love and attention the offense got, the defense lags behind a bit in terms of intelligence. It’s easy to outsmart the defense when you have the ball and when you’re trying to defend against the computer, even on the easiest difficulty setting, it’s like your teammates transform into a bunch of little kids playing against grown people. The Career mode can be a bit confusing and intimidating with all the menus and submenus until you play with them for a while. All in all, this is the best FIFA ever made. There are some flaws, but for an annual release it shows great polish and the EA Canada team shows dedication to solving old problems while adding new features. Now if only the rest of the EA Sports lineup could follow their methods…**COUGH*Madden*COUGH**


Final Breakdown:

[+Best FIFA ever] [+Looks gorgeous] [+Soundtrack is even better] [+Easily the best commentating in any sports game] [+Teammates finally decide to help out on offense] [+Set pieces include much more trickery] [-Defense not as evolved as the offense] [-Career mode has WAY too many menus and submenus]

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