FIFA 13 on Wii U is somewhat of a contradiction because a number of great features have been added while many more have been stripped away in order to get the game ready for the console’s launch. New features that were introduced in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of FIFA 13 such as EA Sports Football Club Match Day and Skill Games are missing from the Wii U release, as are regular modes such as FIFA Ultimate Team and Online Team Play. Despite these unfortunate omissions, FIFA 13 on Wii U offers players some unique control and management options along with the highly engaging gameplay that recent entries in the series are renowned for.
EA should be commended for making extensive use of the Wii U GamePad in its first sports game for the new console. While you can play FIFA 13 using the Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, or Wii Classic Controller, playing with the GamePad allows you to quickly make substitutions, change formations or tactics, or see an overhead view of the pitch that displays details about your players’ stats. The tabs for these options appear on the edges of the GamePad’s screen with a replica of the TV image (minus HUD elements) appearing on it. This allows you to play the game without having to turn your TV on although there’s no way to display HUD information such as score and match time without going into the applicable manager tab to view these details. The game doesn’t pause when you access these tabs so you’ll need to wait until there’s a break in action (such as a throw-in) before making your selection.
Players who enjoy making use of these easily accessible and intuitive manager options in FIFA 13 on Wii U can hang up their boots and solely play the role of manager during exhibition matches or in co-op mode where a friend can control your team’s players while you make crucial management decisions during the game. Up to five players can take part in this mode and each team can have a person playing the role of manager via their respective GamePads.
A great new feature in the Wii U version of FIFA 13 is that managers can now give team talks between halves or before extra time. You can pick out individual players to praise, motivate or criticise in the areas of attack, defence or overall play, or address the team as a whole. Your players’ stats will change depending on how they receive the team talk so you’ll need to tread carefully if you want everyone to bring out their A game during the next passage of play.
The Wii U GamePad also allows for unprecedented precision during other areas of gameplay. You can target exactly where in the net you want to aim your shot by clicking in the right analogue stick or flicking the GamePad forward when you’re ready to shoot. This brings up a transparent net on the GamePad’s screen and you can touch where you want your shot to go (holding down your finger powers up the shot). Various factors influence how accurate your shot will be, so don’t expect the ball to always land up where you targeted. A great feature of this mode is that you don’t have to look down at the GamePad’s screen to target an area of the net because you instinctively know where your fingers are positioned in relation to the screen.
Free kicks and penalties can also be taken with amazing precision as holding up the GamePad brings up a reticule that you can move around by using the controller’s gyroscope. You can power up your shot by holding down the A button and when taking a free kick you can also curve the ball by pressing the left analogue stick in the desired direction. This allows you to pinpoint areas of the net that are unguarded and proves particularly useful during free kicks when there are player walls to curve the ball around.
Other innovative uses of the GamePad include being able to pass the ball to teammates by tapping them on the touch screen or putting the ball into open space by touching where you want it to go. You can also send players on runs by dragging your finger along the desired trajectory or switch between players on defence simply by touching them. The only real issue with these control options is that you’re forced to look down at the GamePad and take one of your hands off the controller which means you’re not in full control of your player for a few seconds.
FIFA 13 on Wii U looks fairly similar to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, but unfortunately there is sporadic slowdown (i.e. frame rate drops) during most matches. I didn’t notice this during Be a Pro matches but when viewing normal matches using the default ‘Tele’ camera option this issue became immediately apparent.
Another disappointing element of the game is how few people are playing it online. During all the sessions I played there were generally about two people searching for matches and about twenty playing in head-to-head games. Unfortunately if you don’t have friends with copies of the game to play against you are going to have a hard time finding online matches to participate in.
If you’re new to the FIFA series then FIFA 13 on Wii U offers hours of engaging and addictive gameplay playing as real-life teams in a wide selection of authentic leagues. However, if you’ve become accustomed to worthwhile FIFA modes such as Online Team Play and FIFA Ultimate Team then you’ll understandably be disappointed by their omission from this version.