FIFA 13 on the Wii U might be in the running for “best game available for the system”, if it wasn’t flying under the radar having been released months ago on the PS3 and the Xbox 360. As the high 80’s scores on Metacritic attest, FIFA 13 has been critically acclaimed, and while a few features didn’t make the jump to the Wii U, the high quality is still there, as are the core elements that fans expect. Well, except for one key thing.
Let’s start upfront with the biggest drawback to the Wii U version of FIFA 13: online play. It exists, but coming months after the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, and saddled with a new, unfamiliar online service, it’s almost certain to suffer a fate similar to Madden 13 on the Wii U, as Kotaku noted when they found only 42 of 32,000 online players playing the Wii U version.
The reason I put that upfront is because if you are fine with a potentially limited online experience, there’s really nothing else to stop you from enjoying FIFA 13 on your new Wii U, because the game has all the bells and whistles that you could possibly want.
What you might lose in online options, might just be made up for by an impressive integration of the Wii U GamePad. There’s nothing mind-blowing here, but the developers at EA Canada have smartly used the screen on the controller to supplement the main action, and it really shines through when you are managing the game. In that mode, you can make lineup changes, adjust strategy and formation, and check out game stats, all without having to pause the action. It’s intuitive, well executed, and really sells the Wii U experience, especially when one player can play manager in multiplayer mode.
You can also, for the most part, play just on the GamePad, though you do lose quite a bit of on-screen extras from the TV.
But it’s not just the big things that FIFA 13 does right though, it’s also the little things, like my personal favorite touch: the load screen. Instead of some sort of static filler during an otherwise dead time, loading takes place behind a one-on-one matchup between a user-controller Lionel Messi and a goalie. It’s simple, but adds to the experience in a welcome, but unexpected way.
With control schemes becoming increasingly complicated (something that the Wii U version can definitely be guilty of), it’s nice to see several options, from the standard “every button does something” to the inclusion of GamePad specific AR-style controls, to a simple two button pass and shoot setup. The GamePad motion controls are more novelty than success, but aren’t required unless you really, really like them.
The GamerPops Recommendation
If you are a soccer fan or a sports video game fan, but for some reason haven’t already picked up FIFA 13, then you should absolutely give it a shot on the Wii U. No one is probably going to think of this as the Wii U’s best launch title, but it showcases the Wii U’s strengths while overcoming its weaknesses, making this an excellent choice for gaming families.
A review copy was provided to GamerPops.
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ESRB Rating Summary
Rating: E for Everyone
Content descriptors: No Descriptors
Rating summary: This is a soccer simulation game in which players engage in realistic matches with authentic teams across international leagues. Players can practice penalty kicks, assign on-field strategies, and participate in a variety of game modes (e.g., Career, Tournament, Virtual Pro, Be a Keeper) to improve their ball-handling skills.