FIFA 12's most contentious offering, Tactical Defending, had the tendency to feel a little unfair on those trying to retrieve the ball. In FIFA 13, defenders now have the right tools to halt any kind of offensive flair. Positioning, power and momentum can bring the quickest of sprinters to a standstill, or if you're overzealous, tumbling to the ground.
Physicality is also improved. In FIFA 13, players bounce off each other according to weight and stature. You won't see Paul Scholes flooring Yaya Toure in a clash of brute strength, but he could escape the Ivorian's clutches if his movement and distribution is on point. Battles across the pitch are unpredictable. Mistimed jumps might result in you nicking an unlikely ball, or send your player hurtling towards the turf if someone else makes contact on the way down.
Much of this is emphasised by the movement of the ball. Expect to see superstars like Xavi and Iniesta receiving each pass with expert control, turning quickly, and then moving play on with a precise swipe of the boot. Such slickness is a luxury in FIFA 13, with the ball moving across the field in a far less predictable fashion than we've become accustomed to. For the first time ever, it feels like every individual touch has an impact on the game.
This comes to fruition even further with Complete Dribbling. Similar to the control system in FIFA Street, you are now granted a wider scope of options when in possession. Skilled dribblers can perform tricks with great speed; the tornado legs of Ronaldo may hypnotise before a burst of pace opens up space.
Minor alterations continue into this year's Manager Mode, such as the transfer markets, which are now more competitive than ever. Players now consider their own situation before moving to a new team, and might need reassurance they are in your plans for the future.
Newspaper speculation could unsettle individuals with false rumours, leading to unrest at the entire club. Ridiculous injuries also have a habit of cropping up. Similar occurrences have happened in real life, so it's good to see EA providing a jovial wink towards the bizarre side of the sport.
A long overdue feature now allows you to get international jobs, too. While it's unlikely Spain or Brazil will come calling early on, expect a host of European minnows to be interested in the opening stages of your career.
Ultimate Team has also seen a slight makeover. Single-player seasons take the emphasis away from cup competitions. Your first few matches will be spent trying to accumulate points from a number of lesser known clubs. Earn enough within the allotted amount of games and a promotion is in order. Each league match manages to have a sense of meaning about them, something cup variants often lack.
Before starting a fixture you can decide if you want real-world form to be considered. Right now the likes of van Persie and Messi play with improved stats based on the plethora of goals they've recently scored. Those who're playing badly will also be tweaked, meaning Southampton fans could face as much of an uphill struggle on the virtual pitch as they do in the Premier League.
Talking of chatter, EA's decision to add Kinect is a useful one. Simple tasks become even easier once commands are learnt. Substitutions can be made, formations and mentality altered, plus camera angles can be switched if you fancy a different approach.
FIFA 13 is definitely an improvement on its predecessor. EA had to sit and watch as PES 2013 lapped up critical plaudits earlier this week, so it's only fitting FIFA 13 arrives in generation-defining form.
Virgin Media verdict:
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