Product Type: Electronic Arts Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... series. Let's get straight to the graphics. Here, the game shines pretty hard. It's graphics are almost the same with the previous titles.... more
The Dark Side's Looking Bright
FIFA 13 (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Puggers
FIFA 13 (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Looks great, incredible level of detail, plays immersively and intuitively.
Disadvantages: Lack of licensed competitions, limited editing options.
These kinds of seismic divides crop up from time to time in gaming - and in many ways the rivalry between FIFA and Pro Evo mirrors those in the real footballing world they ape. Are you the red half or the blue half of Manchester? Barca or Real? Boca or River? Except lately it's become more like the North London derby circa 1999-2010; a world of pain for one side and the kind of raw, semi-inevitable drubbing that comes with being on the wrong side of an imbalanced fight. Pro Evo used to be great - far greater than FIFA, a game that had fallen from its heyday and was all style, no substance. It was a gaming Ladyboy; all gloss and glamour on the outside working hard to conceal some less appealling secrets.
That was then, though - now things are different. FIFA's found the gameplay to go with the glitz, and suddenly Pro Evo's treading water. It took a long time to persude me to jump ship, even when people were singing the praises of the reformed franchise. I'd been burnt by FIFA too many times. Pro Evo 2012 was one disappointment too many for me, though - it sucked. In bitter, epic ways. So now it's FIFA for me - and I only wish I'd deserted sooner.
As I'm late to the party, there isn't much I can say in terms of the differences between this version of FIFA and its predecessor - by all accounts this is a re-jigging of the winning formula rather than a wholesale reinvention. Instead, my observations compare the two footballing franchises, and explain why I'm sticking with EA for the foreseeable future.
FIFA's big selling-point has always been its officialdom and licenses. Though Pro Evo made some inroads in this direction by acquiring the Champions League and Europa League licenses, there's no comparison when it comes to the depth of detail. Want to play as Fleetwood? Fancy storming the Spanish Second Division? Have a yearning to lead Gangwon FC to glory? FIFA's your game - the wealth of leagues, kits, stadia, competitions and players here is staggering, and puts Pro Evo's offerings to shame. Granted, Konami have the Copa Libertadores where FIFA doesn't, but this is likely to appease few gamers.
However, FIFA's always been streets ahead in this respect - where it's lagged has been in gameplay. Years ago, players' movements were robotic and unconvincing, play unfolded awkwardly and control was erratic and frustrating. These concerns are now a thing of the past, and if anything, the series now plays like Pro Evo at its prime. Passing is fluid, players move, use the ball and interact with each other in realistic, believable ways. The game accomodates different styles of play pretty well, and you always feel in full control of your team. Pro Evo has fallen behind here, with last year's offering feeling somewhat sluggish and unresponsive for the first time, not helped by some truly awful camera issues.
The camera's great here - so much so you forget it can even be an issue - and the controls are great. There's a range of tricks and touches at your fingertips, and the game manages to perfectly tread the line between pick-up-and-play intuitiveness and catering for the whims of the seasoned player.
Presentation is another area in which FIFA has always excelled, and this combines with the gameplay here to create a truly immersive experience. Players and stadiums look fantastic - and crucially, this is as true at lower-league levels as it is in the stratosphere. It was hard to feel in Pro Evo that you were playing as a small team, as all the stadia were massive super-arenas. Here, there's more variety, with small traditional grounds sitting alongside modern identikit arenas and well-known real-life stadia. With 69 grounds available, there's more than double what Pro Evo can offer. The whole presentation of the game is super-slick, with all the menus looking great and remaining accessible - another aspect Pro Evo has traditionally struggled with.
Game modes are similar to its rival - the career mode and be-a-player options are mirrored by Pro Evo, and both are fine. I can't say much about Ultimate Team yet, but it looks promising, and again threatens to outstrip what Konami have to offer. If there's one area that FIFA falls short in, it's in terms of customisation. Pro Evo has always made up for its licensing issues (to some degree) by offering a level of editing power that FIFA can't match. Even if this feature has lacked innovation recently, it still allows players far more control over their game than in FIFA. Granted, you can tweak your player's appearance with a myriad of options here, but there's no chance to edit kits or create clubs, as there is in Pro Evo. Maybe it's just the design-nerd in me, but this was always a great feature in Pro Evo, allowing you to customise the game to an unlimited degree, and greatly extending shelf-life. It's a shame - and an oddity - that FIFA lacks this level of depth. I guess they figure it isn't needed - yet while this is to some extent true, such is the existing detail within the game, it's a missed opportunity to add another weapon to the game's considerable arsenal.
So ... I'm a traitor, but a happy one. Actually, Konami don't own my loyalty - they need to earn it with a game that constantly pushes the boundaries, responds to gamer demands and strives to improve in leaps and bounds with each incarnation. Pro Evo hasn't been that game in years, so for now I'm playing an enormously impressive FIFA that combines traditional graphics-and-licenses strength with cutting-edge gameplay. Your move, Konami.
Summary: The best, by some way.
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