FIFA 13

So last week saw the latest FIFA hit the shelves and as always countless hours have been spent getting to grips with all the minor differences in gameplay and layout. The question is has EA done it again and managed to produce another FIFA that’s even better than the last?

Yes is the answer. When playing the game the most noticeable change in gameplay is the new, harder first touch control, it’s far more likely now that if you pass to a sprinting player it’s just going to bounce of his shin and he’ll lose control. This makes it much harder to play like Barcelona, but, personally, I like it because it makes it a bit more realistic. The only other differences I’ve noticed in actual gameplay are that it’s much more difficult to score when you’re one-on-one with the goalkeeper, it’s easier to catch up with an attacker and tackle them from behind and that if you’re under pressure and you pass they quite often put a bit of loft in the pass in order to get it over a defenders foot, all of these features take a few games to get used to but I think, ultimately, just improve the realism just that little bit more.

A lot of work this year has been done on the career mode, which now for the first time, allows you to manage an international team alongside your club, I’m incredibly excited to be able to manage England to World Cup glory while steering Southend towards the Champions League, but obviously it may take a while before I get there. I think this is an absolutely fantastic new feature. Other changes are the classified results that are read after each match, nice touch, and the choice of what other league games you might want score updates on during your match. This links in to the new commentary cut-away’s where we get handed over to someone who tells us the other scores or how an injured player is doing or what they’ve done to themselves. All of which just make the career that bit more real.

Elsewhere there’s the new match form feature which can be used on exhibition matches where the form the players are in in real life affects how they will perform in the game. Online there’s little changes from the superb FIFA 12 online seasons feature, the only real differences being that every division now has an attainable title if you clock up a certain amount of points and that the team line-ups change more or less every week to reflect current injuries and managerial choices, but you can, at the same time, save your own custom line-ups for each club which is useful.

So overall, yet again, FIFA has managed to improve itself and remains the greatest football series of all time, now lets see how quickly I can get the 50 hours on the pitch trophy…

SSX

While staying at the girlfriends house and consuming very little media I thought it time I added to my extensive collection of game reviews. To be honest I’m yet to really justify even having game reviews as a section, but I will attempt to improve it in the coming weeks. So this week I thought I’d rewind back a few months to the reboot of snowboarding juggernaut SSX. Now back in my GameCubing days I was a big fan of SSX3 which I bought pre-owned and probably because it was the only thing I could afford at the time, I became mildly addicted, it must be said, however I never really fell in love with the franchise the same way I had with, say, Need for Speed Underground or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater; so when the re-boot of SSX was announced I wasn’t really that bothered.

But then upon a hazy evening of gaming in a friends uni dorm room playing the demo made me rather excited. I still umm-ed and arr-ed about buying it upon release day but after a few days I could no longer resist its temptation. Playing through the deadly descents campaign I found that the franchise had really found it’s own style for the first time. The graphics can actually compliment the breathtaking views they’re trying to re-create, the tricks remain as ridiculous as they ever have been and with the absence of a decent Tony Hawk or Need for Speed game in about five years means the game fills a hole that hasn’t been filled in a long time. The gameplay is a real triumph here.

On the other hand, though, after a while, it ends up becoming mundane. There is far too much emphasis in all EA games at the moment on making everything online based. Enjoy the campaign while you can because before you know it it’s over and then you’re left with global events and the world tour mode. First off you will love it, as I did, for a good few weeks I was happily entertained jumping from drop to drop setting times, scoring points and surviving without the required safety gear, it does provide a great amount of fun for your money. But the problem is only one person can be the best, only one person can top the leaderboards and anyone that’s ever seen me play will know it can never be me and that fact, in the end, leads to you giving up. While it is fun competing against friends it doesn’t provide you with quite the same satisfaction of completing a lengthy single player story, and this is where SSX’s biggest flaws lie. Let’s hope EA can realise that people want a combination of both single player and multiplayer in their titles and stop swaying to the emphasis on online competition in future.