FIFA 13 preview: career mode, new transfer system,mini-games and more

What do you need in order to win at football? Well, as Man City’s title triumph evidences, a quarry full of £50 notes certainly doesn’t do any harm. But a couple of other things are just as key. Unpredictability – which Arsenal fans will tell you all about as their team passes the ball incessantly along the edge of their opponent’s box for ten straight minutes – and, in the long term, bringing through new players.

FIFA 13: hands-on with the new career mode

And these are both things that EA Canada is paying a lot of attention for its latest FIFA instalment. The developer is planning to build on last year’s success – which saw FIFA 12 become the fastest-selling sports game of all time – by evolving the gameplay, expanding the depth and making the entry level for newcomers to the franchise as easy and as addictive as possible.

The evolution in the on-pitch action has been covered in OPM FIFA 13 previews at length, but, as line manager Nick Channon explains, the new tweaks in the gameplay are all aimed at introducing that element of unpredictability into every single match. “What we’re aiming for is a limitless variety of outcomes all over the pitch,” he says. “No two matches will ever be the same.”

It’s all summed up in what he calls the five pillars of FIFA 13: first touch control, the improved Player Impact Engine, better attacking AI, complete dribbling and tactical free kicks. Separately they sound like bullet points on a fact sheet. Combined together in practice, they result in the most realistic football experience on console.

Players push and jockey for control, while attackers curl runs to stay onside. Lobs and long passes require deft touches, free kicks become mini chess games, and every player has tight control of the ball, although skill levels naturally vary. Oh, and after playing FIFA 13 for about an hour, going back to last year’s version is almost unthinkable.

Still, Channon and his team know that gameplay is only one aspect they need to perfect. If they want to satisfy the fanbase and attract newbies, more is required. So first up, the core career mode has been expanded to greater reflect the realities of the football transfer system. Well, almost. While clubs have finite resources depending on the financial situation of their real-world counterparts, any Man City fans hoping to start throwing around a bajillion pounds are in for a shock.