Summer may be over in our neck of the woods, but our love of soccer remains strong, and will be aided by indoor leagues and televised events taking place in warmer regions of the world. However, footie loving gamers will all agree that the listed options aren’t enough to curb their fix, which is where EA Sports’ incredibly popular FIFA Soccer 13 comes into play. The game was released earlier this fall for different systems, but just recently made an appearance in the Wii U’s launch line-up. For that reason, we’ve decided to write a second review, in order to let the console’s owners and those planning to buy it know whether the pitch-based port is worth their hard-earned dough.
Please note that since we’ve already published an in-depth review of the main version of the game, this article will predominantly focus on its Wii U-specific features. That’s because, unlike the Wii version, this one happens to offer most of the content that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 iterations did.
For the uninitiated, although there are surely only a few out there by now, the FIFA video game franchise holds the crown as the world’s number one sports series. It makes sense, though, considering the fact that what is referred to as the beautiful game happens to be the most popular athletic event type out there. Thankfully, Electronic Arts and its Canadian development team take that status to heart, and do their best to improve things on a yearly basis. The success of those attempts is evident through review scores and message board conversations, as well as sales numbers.
Earlier this fall, I personally awarded FIFA Soccer 13 a high mark, and I stand by that. Simply put, it’s a great achievement and a must-buy for armchair footballers. Now, the question fans are asking pertains to whether or not any of that quality was lost in the Wii U porting process. Although I wish I could provide a firm answer of no, that would be a lie. The truth is that this iteration isn’t as great as its peers, though it’s not very far behind them.
Prior to entering into competition against artificial or human controlled teams, one must play through a five minute-long tutorial. Unlike the PS3 and 360 tutorial, this one only focuses on the GamePad, in an effort to showcase its unique features. In total, there are close to ten new ways to interact with the game with the touchscreen controller. That list includes tap-based passing and man selecting, along with the option to manually aim shots using a net diagram. Additionally, users can now manage their teams while on the fly, as managerial tabs dot the left side of the screen during gameplay. You’ve probably guessed the ones I’m referencing, but I’ll mention a few of them, including substitutions, squad formations and team overviews.
While EA Canada should be applauded for trying to take advantage of new technology, a couple of the aforementioned mechanics feel gimmicky. That’s to be expected, though, because we’re talking about a launch title. Next year should bring new ideas and improvements. My hope is that they will decide to only allow precise touchscreen aiming for penalty picks, because it doesn’t work well during regular play. Going further, it’d also be nice if they would focus less on touchscreen passing, because it’s also something that doesn’t work well during high tempo moments.
When it comes to presentation, FIFA Soccer 13 for Wii U is a bit of a mixed bag. Its player models are well designed and look clean, and the same is true about the stadiums. The in-game action also looks quite good, despite being somewhat dark, though one key issue holds things back. That noted problem relates to the all-important frame rate, which isn’t always stable. However, it’s important to note that the issue is not a major one, because it doesn’t mar things too much.
In keeping with the talk about downsides, there are three more to note. First up is the fact that Football Ultimate Team is missing from this equation, which will disappoint those who look forward to building their own teams by collecting and trading for cards. Next, there’s the absence of the great loading menu Skill Games. Finally, we must talk about the animations, which are pretty good, but aren’t as intricate as what the main versions of the game offer. Granted, that’s not something that will bug all users, much like the commentary. I’m still not a fan of the latter item, but maybe that’s because I’ve been spoiled by the great colour commentary that my favourite hockey team’s announcers present.
To answer the question posed above, FIFA Soccer 13 is worth picking up for Nintendo’s new, and much talked-about system. However, this particular version is definitely not the best one out there, meaning that it’s something you may want to wait on or buy for another system. Then again, if you do decide to buy it soon, you will find a lot to like. Just keep it in mind that you’ll have to contend with a footie game that doesn’t have a large online community at this point in time.
This review is based on a Wii U copy of the game that we were provided with.