Hands-on time with Messi and Co.
At a recent EA event, the publisher pulled back the curtain on the Wii U version of FIFA 13. There's lots in store for the launch title on Nintendo's new hardware, especially regarding innovative approaches to gameplay using the system's touch-based controller.
Here's an overview of what you can expect from the game-in-progress!
Its not the equivalent of FIFA 13 on Xbox 360/PS3, but its more advanced than FIFA 12
We discovered during our first playthrough, in the midst of attempting a precision dribble using FIFA 13 cores controls, we continuously set off the programmers debug menu. Why is that important? A member of the Wii U team told us that control-wise, it doesnt play exactly like the core experience on Xbox 360 and PS3. Once we approached it with the familiar FIFA 12 mechanics, we immediately got the hang of it.
But, as producer Matt Prior pointed out, calling it FIFA 12.5 is totally inaccurate. Its a game that has certain mechanics of the current game on the market, but there are tweaks and polishes for the new hardware that go above and beyond FIFA 12 in its most patched state.
First Person Free Kicks
With first-person free kicks, all you need to do is aim your Wii U controller at the TV, and the screen will switch to a camera that allow you to carefully target your shot, adjust for curve, and blast the shot at the net. It feels like a more efficient version of the Vitas rear touch shooting.
Clear on goal? Shake to shoot!
When you want to shoot (the fancy, Nintendo proprietary hardware way), you can either shake the controller, or mash in both analog sticks. A mesh overlay will pop up on the Wii U touchscreen. With a tap on the touchscreen, your shot will go in whatever area youd rested a fingertip. And youll see that shot zone visually represented onscreen. As Prior mentioned, the team set up the mechanic so that youll see the glowing onion bag in your peripheral vision, but youll still be focused on the big screen as you plan that shot.
Get "Fingers On" with your teammates
Tap to pass functionality, like the Vita version, is in the Wii U game. You can tap a player and pass the ball to him. Were not huge fans of the mechanic, since we prefer the precision of tactile buttons, but its there for those interested (and for those fixated on playing via the Wii U controllers screen, which is an option). Whats truly intriguing is the ability for drag and drop runs. You can use the touchscreen to pick a player, and drag him toward the direction you want him to run. And finally, presentation-wise, you can use the Wii U controller to look around the stadium youre playing in just before kick off, which is a nice touch, especially if youve ever visited the stadium of your favorite club.
Full Management Control is as easy as swapping teams
Playing as a manager is a huge part of FIFA 13 on Wii U. Its not just a jaunt through career mode, but as Prior said, its a feature designed for the dads out there. Essentially, with the mode in place, you can switch to manager with the same ease you swap teams in any EA Sports game. With the mode, youll open up a variety of tactical options to drive your team to victory.
The screen is broken up into vertical tabs on the right side of the touch screen, such as one for roster, radar of the on-field action, formation options, and man marking, among others. Wed love to see a heat map make its way into future versions, but its a great debut for the new hardware.
While playing as manager, youll have all of the options in real-time at your disposal that youd normally have to pause a menu to traverse. With the radar turned on, you can see which player is where on the pitch, and you can pull up his stamina levels, match stats (shots, bookings, number of fouls and offsides), and even pick a player who you want others to pass to.
More than just player swaps
You can swap formations on the fly and make the sort of d-pad driven tactical decisions youd make in the core games, but without the pressure of juggling ball possession at the same time.
Theres an added bonus of praising or criticizing player performance during halftime, which can dramatically affect player morale coming out of the tunnel. Though, as we discovered while playing as Chelsea, no one can tell John Terry anything and faze him.
Its a fun feature that may not keep hardcore FIFA players engaged for long -- the hands-off nature of the mode will be a bridge too far for micromanagers -- but its a surefire method of getting someone whose reflexes arent quite as quick to enjoy playing. And with enough controllers, the game will support up to five players, including the manager.
Eventually, youll get used to looking at the TV again
While you can look at the WiiU controller to play, its not the way the team intends for you to experience it. Perhaps its the awe of new hardware, but it took a few matches to start looking at the TV to play. Be forewarned that this will very likely happen to you, too.
The Wii U controller allows for shortcuts
There are still some great presentation flourishes, such as a quick menu option using a honeycomb HUD that allows you to quickly tap around to get to what you want, be it presentation options, or a quick exit to the menu.
You'd be surprised just how much it comes in handy!
Visually, it looks as good as its console counterparts on other systems, though its still a work in progress
Its in HD, just like the other games, though its still being worked on. Weve been reassured by the team that the framerate drops are part of the state of the game-in-progress, and given the fact that its new hardware and the game isnt coming out in September like the other versions, weve got little reason to be concerned.
The presentation looks uncannily like the other games, and even on the Wii U controller, its rendered quite well. We think youll be pleased with its aesthetics.