FIFA 13 Hands-On Preview

It’s been a few months since we’ve checked in on the iOS version of FIFA 13. At yesterday’s EA press event, they revealed one big new addition to the series: online multiplayer! Now it’s confirmed that you can play against a friend through EA’s Origin social gaming platform.

According to EA’s Senior Product Manager for Mobile and Social, Dan Nord, in FIFA 13 you’ll be able to “quick connect” to a match to find a random opponent, which may take about 15-20 seconds. You’ll also be able to start a match with your Origin friends. This was demonstrated live, with EA organizing a match between its studios in Redwood City and Los Angeles. As far as we could tell, the lag was thankfully minimal.

Dan revealed a few other new details to us as well. FIFA 13 will allow you to save replays of your best moments, and upload them automatically to Youtube from within the app. We were able to move the camera around when viewing the replay on our iPad, getting up-close for the most dramatic shots, but it seems that the Youtube replay might be just the straight-up gameplay footage.

We’re also homing in on a more specific release window for FIFA 13. EA now confirms the game will be available at the end of September, but the launch price is still to be determined.

Preview update by Andrew Podolsky

Whether Americans want to acknowledge it or not, the biggest sport in the world is soccer. Whenever EA Sports drops a new FIFA title, it’s a big deal, a worldwide event. Naturally, we were curious to see how FIFA 13 on iOS was coming along. With a Fall release, the development window is closing soon. Check out our impressions from the E3 build shown behind closed doors.

Immediately noticeable from picking up the iPad demo was the new visual design. FIFA Soccer 12 was a great soccer game, but it had a slightly cartoony look. FIFA 13, on the other hand, uses the same simulation style of the console versions. Besides that change, the player models have taken a big step forward. FIFA 12′s player faces were terrible; there’s no sugarcoating it. You couldn’t recognize the huge stars like Messi or Ronaldo on any of the closeups. That has changed. Viewing replays of the action and seeing the closeup shots reveals a much more dedicated effort to capture player likenesses. It’s not quite console quality, but the visual upgrade is welcome.

Another major innovation in FIFA 13 is the new control scheme. The offensive attack has been opened up with a renewed focus on creativity. No more randomized skill moves from double tapping the screen, you can select how you get around defenders with the new skill move mechanic. Tapping the a virtual button opens up a square grid that enables you to slide your thumb in 8 different directions, all of which execute different moves. It took some adjustment, but we were enjoying that new added dimension. On defense, you can now press the offensive attack with a second defender. EA Sports acknowledged that this feature was one that was a direct response to the FIFA community, and it works just as you would expect.

Other smaller additions include the new ability to select the weather and specific stadiums for your matchup. If you play in the rain, the field will slowly degrade over the course of the the match. The EA Sports Football Club is another big feature that will receive a lot of attention in FIFA 13. Your rank level and XP will be transferrable across all the FIFA platforms, whether you game on iOS or on a traditional platform. This type of cross play is becoming a trend that consumers are loving, and we’re happy to see EA Sports get on the locomotive.

FIFA 13 is still clearly being worked on. There is a sizable amount of tweaking that still needs to happen for balance and additional fluidity of the controls. The producers could not really get into whether this will be the year we see worldwide online play, but we are crossing our fingers. Look out for FIFA 13 to arrive this Fall.

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