Now that PES has been well and truly left in FIFA’s dust, EA are focusing on making the games as close to what you see on the real pitch as they can.
Casual fans may ask what more they could possibly do, besides implementing a diving function for players who choose to play as Barcelona and making Rooney a little uglier. Hardcore fans though, will be familiar enough with FIFA to know that some aspects of the game, such as dribbling and first touch, don’t look quite right-don’t quite resemble what you see on TV.
Well EA acknowledge this and are working on tweaks to the game that sound minor, but will radically change how FIFA feels to play.
The headline change is players’ first touch control. In FIFAs past, players have been able to effortlessly control even the most wild of passes; not so in FIFA 13 says Executive Producer David Rutter.
“First touch control is the equivalent change to the game that tactical defending was last year. We’re calculating the outcome of a pass based on the context of what the ball is doing – whether it’s spinning, what speed it’s travelling at – and what the player is doing – whether he’s running, whether he’s stationary, whether someone’s pushing him and whether he can successfully control the ball at his feet.”
The skill level of the individual player will have a much greater effect on how well he manages to control the ball on the first touch. Arjen Robben and Mesut Ozil are going to be much more comfortable receiving the ball than Peter Crouch and Vincent Kompany, where as in FIFA 12, the difference was minimal.
The attacking AI is another area that the developers have been keen to improve on. Players now make smarter off-the-ball runs and work harder to stay onside.
“There’s a real feeling that the team is attacking with you. That makes the whole attacking dynamic of the game a lot more enjoyable.”
Personally I’m very pleased to hear this. One of the very few criticisms I have of FIFA 12 is that often find myself passing the ball back and forth along the edge of the penalty area because the AI refuses to make a run into the area, even when a gaping hole appears in the defense.
Dribbling has seen a minor tweak as well. Holding both triggers now activates an improved precision dribbling system based on FIFA Street’s ball control mechanic. It’s effectiveness depends on the dribbling skill of the player to an extent but it gives any player a greater variety of options to use when trying to beat a defender.
Attacking players aren’t having it all their own way though, FIFA 12′s player-impact engine allowed players to jostle for control of the ball; FIFA 13 will let you push them off the ball entirely. Presumably this comes with a high risk of giving away a free-kick but it adds to the realism. The impact engine itself has also been fine-tuned to prevent the hilarious glitches that often occur in FIFA 12 that see players bounce off each other and fly 30ft in different directions.
Speaking of free-kicks, they’re also getting an upgrade. The attacking side can have up to 3 players standing over the ball and faking to take the kick, whilst the defending team can add players to the wall, move the wall forward, and charge the kick taker. Can’t say I’m too crazy about moving the wall forward. It’s annoying enough when it happens in real football, (that is to say in every game) and moving forward will risk a yellow card, but scoring a free-kick in FIFA is hard enough without giving the defense the option to cheat.
“We have a massive tool in the game that acts as a tactics editor. We put it in there a couple of years ago and it turns out that, while it’s fantastically fun to play with, it was probably a bit too hardcore for people. This is why the new tactical free-kicks is there – for more casual players, who want to be able to do this immediately.
“But you can spend a couple of days, probably, figuring out in the editor exactly what you’re going to do with every player on the pitch and how they’ll react in a free-kick scenario.”
After I realized that the massive tool he was talking about was the custom set-piece creator and not Sergio Busquets, I got to thinking about what a great change this is to the game. Now more casual players won’t be stuck using the stock set-pieces because they’re too daunted by the complexity of the set-piece editor.
FIFA is a series that has the impressive tendency to make huge improvements out of small changes, and it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening here. You should all reserve judgement until we get a chance to try the game ourselves, but it looks like EA are a few steps closer to creating the perfect football sim.
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