Platform: Xbox 360
The similarities between the FIFA franchise and Andrey Arshavin's career are frightening. I love Andrey Arshavin and I've always loved FIFA. Andrey's four goals against Liverpool, FIFA '97's Indoor 6-a-side, that goal against Barcelona, the first touch with be a pro. These memories flood back, no matter how poorly either perform.
The FIFA 13 demo was released for PC and Xbox gamers today, I grabbed the Xbox version alongside the second Pro Evolution demo. Yes, the SECOND Pro Evolution demo.
Not a lot has changed with regards to the introduction, although Messi greeting me at the start screen instead of mean muggin' Wayne Rooney provides a welcome aesthetic improvement. The demo menu screen is as bland as you would expect, it features quite a few tabs with which only two have any importance. Kick off takes you to an exhibition match and training ground which allows you to run to control Messi in an arena similar to the past three or four editions. So to compare this to Andrey, his shirt number and name haven't changed since he joined Arsenal, the shirt has gone through a few different designs though. It's a familiar set up and will hopefully see a few tweaks in the full version.
A small side note on the soundtrack, I'm sure Andrey will like it. There's an eclectic mix on the demo, none of which is sonically offensive.
Kick off takes you through a few slides that explain the new features; EAFC Match Day brings in real life form - a feature previously known as Adidas Live. Gameplay additions are also explained; 1st touch control, new position coding, an update to the impact engine, which will hopefully eliminate players flying across the pitch from tackles. Complete dribbling gives improved precision dribbling with full 360 mobility and finally tactical free kicks which allow you to place up to three men on a dead ball.
The demo gives you a choice of five teams to play as; Arsenal (Hurrah!), German champions Borussia Dortmund, match fixing Juventus, oil rich Manchester City or Nottingham side AC Milan. A nice new feature at the team select screen is the ability to scroll through team stats, top scorers, injuries, suspensions, and players who are away on international duty.
With your teams and kits picked it's time to be disappointed by the lack of squad updates, no Santi Cazorla for Arsenal, and I'm sure City fans will be equally heartbroken by the lack of Matija Nastasic. A new player form system effects player ratings, but much like the squads these will hopefully be rectified in the full version, as every previous version has. Where does Andrey fall into this, I hear you cry? Well… he doesn't. It was a stupid metaphor anyway.
The game loading screen is perhaps one of FIFA's greatest strengths. Where previously, you'd boot the ball at a defenceless goalkeeper. Here we now have skill games; mushroom like targets in the box to aim crosses at, targets in the goal to be hit with free kicks or chip shots. FIFA seem to have realised training people to play is essential. These are great though, and provide a nice interim challenge before the game.
CUE THE DARK KNIGHT THEME. As the teams are shown in a foreboding highlight real against their opponents, epic violin music accompanies the beginning your friendly. The commentary here is… jolty, still no specific references but they're getting better. Phrases like "He is unsettled at the club" poke in the dark at a certain striker who sold his soul to the devil.
So at last, we get to the gameplay. FIFA 13 plays faster than its predecessors. There is no overhaul of controls so if you are familiar with any previous FIFA title you can pick up and play this one. The new substitution loading screen is a welcome addition, showing an official holding up a board instead of some non-sequitur player walking.
After just a few minutes of playing, the difference that complete dribbling makes is apparent. Skill moves were almost impossible to pull off without your player almost slowing to a stop, this time they are far easier to pull off. As for the run coding, I'm yet to really notice any difference. Although, playing with Theo Walcott upfront is hardly helping my cause. Sprinting for the duration of the game will really affect your players ability to control the ball in the later stages, which will be great at balancing the online play. The greatest disappointment for me is the reluctance of EA to update the graphics, it feels like we've been looking at the same player models for the past four or five years.
After playing FIFA and both PES demos it's fair to say Pro Evolution looks more promising this year. FIFA is stagnating whilst PES feels fresh and looks amazing. FIFA, much like Arshavin, could do with a short term loan. They can both still do the business.
Of course, it is just a demo and FIFA has invested heavily in this years career mode. Give it a play and #PrayForAndrey.