The weekend’s exposure to PES has not tempted me back to familiar pastures. FIFA13 is too good a football game to leave unplayed.
Ultimate Team continues, and will always continue. My Silver squad has avoided relegation from Division 2 by one point.
But I have started a Career Mode career. Playing as… Dagenham & Redbridge of League 2. Readers with very long memories will recall me playing a multi-season Manager Mode career with this club back on FIFA08.
(Here’s a random post from February 2008, which contains some Motorola Razr mobile phone footage of my latest signing, Darren Huckerby, scoring a lovely volley. You can just about make out FIFA08’s celebrated ‘steel cage’ nets in action, too.)
My first impression of FIFA13’s Career Mode: I want to actually play a match with my new team a lot quicker than it will let me. It’s like the protracted starting-up phase of a new Football Manager save. Perhaps that’s deliberate.
You begin on July 1st. Your first friendly is on July 22nd. There is no ‘skip to’ option—you have to sit and wait as the calendar cycles through the days. And it takes ages to get there. Twenty minutes in my case. All I was doing was looking at my team and signing one new player—Mario Ortiz from Espanyol, for £200K.
There’s almost too much information flying at you. The interface is, frankly, gorgeous. There’s a fair few design graduates worked on this game, it’s a safe bet to say.
The League Cup draw is made audibly, with somebody reading the fixtures out in the background as you move through the menus.
The transfer market works like a dream in FIFA13. Counter-offers for fees and salaries can work. Young players you put up for loan who actually go on loan. You can’t help comparing and contrasting with Master League. All you think in the first hour on Career Mode is ‘why, Konami, why?’
The game keeps stopping to tell you transfer news and inform you of club expectations. My Dagenham team had no money and we were expected to finish mid-table.
And I’m playing on World Class difficulty. Here’s a plot chart showing the CPU’s shooting performance against me in a pre-season friendly. The blue dots are my shots. The green dots are Tranmere Rovers’ shots. I lost 0-2.
World Class might be too much, but it is a necessity for me on FIFA13. This avoids the somewhat empty feeling of playing on lower difficulties. On World Class I’m always up against it. There’s a danger of being sacked very quickly, of course, but it’s a danger I’m willing to face for the sake of immersion.
And playing with a 1-star team, on World Class, is challenging. My players are all in the 50-60 OVR bracket. They have slow turning circles and dodgy ball control. Sometimes I can’t put two passes together and have to spend long periods resisting AI onslaughts. Games have that authentic starting-with-Defaults feel that any Master League veteran will treasure.
So FIFA13’s got the gameplay. It’s got the Career Mode—what an evolution this mode has gone through since 2008! It’s got neat touches, such as a detailed post-match breakdown of individual player performances (screenshot below).
Now all that remains to be seen: has it got the secret X-factor that makes a football game’s long-term career mode playable and compulsive?
We shall see.