Last month we reviewed the scandalous Wii version of FIFA 13 and came to the conclusion that it wasn't just incredibly similar to last year's game, it was last year's game, only with updated rosters. Naturally, we surmised, all eyes would turn to this upcoming Wii U version instead, in the hope that EA would finally come good and deliver a proper FIFA experience on a Nintendo system. No more of this bare-minimum nonsense. For the most part, FIFA 13 on Wii U delivers, though yo
u'll want to consider a few things before deciding if it's worth making your first Wii U football game.
If you've been solely committed to Nintendo and haven't owned a FIFA game on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, the Wii U version of FIFA will be your first taste of 'proper' FIFA gameplay, featuring what an EA rep told us was "its award-winning next-gen engine" (though the next generation isn't for a couple of years yet). Sales hyperbole aside, it will feel like a huge step forwards if this is your first HD FIFA experience.
Making An Impact
The main reason for this is the Impact Engine, the special physics brains that never features in the Wii or 3DS versions of the game because the hardware isn't sufficiently powerful. This engine comes into play whenever a collision takes place (usually between two players, naturally) and uses powerful calculations to figure out how each body will react. What this ultimately means is far more realistic animations - when a late tackle is made you can go into the replay and see exactly which leg was caught and how it affected the player's balance, bringing him down - and more spectacular moments. There's something oddly more satisfying about scoring a one-on-one goal if you clash with the diving keeper and tumble over him just as you slot the ball under his body, instead of glitching through your prone opponent as in the football games of old.
Impact Engine aside, there are numerous bits and pieces on the pitch that make the Wii U version of FIFA 13 infinitely better than any other version released on a Nintendo system. The ball weight feels far more realistic and passes are easier to vary - with enough skill, lofted through balls can be judged perfectly to drop down just beyond the defence for your striker to run onto.
Quick free kicks and throw-ins can be taken to catch opponents off-guard. Players actually tussle with each other if they're running side by side, nudging into each other and trying to shoulder each other off the ball. Tackling options are also much more detailed, with the ability to jockey opponents and stay goal-side of them, only putting a foot in to tackle when you decide to, instead of just holding a button and homing in on them like a mindless, easy-to-shimmy-past drone. All these features have been present in FIFA games for years on the HD systems and now Nintendo owners have the chance to enjoy them.
Then there's the right analogue stick. On the Wii the right stick was limited to four different 'fancy' skills and not much else. On the Wii U it opens up a new world of ball control. One flick knocks the ball in that direction - a simple idea, but one that completely transforms your tactical possibilities. Reckon you can outrun a defender coming down towards you at an angle? Knock the ball ahead of you and hurdle his tackle. Trapped by two defenders, but aware of a small gap between them? Dink the ball through it and run into them, earning the free kick. It takes a while to master the right stick, but playing FIFA becomes ever more satisfying once you do.