The FIFA series repeats in the top spot even though it does so somewhat by default as the field in 2012 simply did not do enough to knock it off the throne. FIFA 13 capitalized off the excellent prior iteration by making important refinements and building on already established strengths resulting in the best overall product of the year.
The ranking of games in the best of 2012 list is based on number of factors including the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title, whether advertised features were fully delivered, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is largely a personal take and one with the advantage of tracking the games beyond just the release frame and does not act as some sort of recap of those with the highest scores on Metacritic. The analysis is weighted heavily towards those high in fun factor while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the field.
FIFA 13 continues the trend of accessible offerings that present widespread appeal to even those who may not follow the sport all that closely. The fun factor is present even when learning and growing in level of understanding and performance – something the addition of Skill Games helped with even further. EA Sports has done an admirable job of advancing the product over the years with innovation and refinements while never losing focus of the fundamentals.
Improvements included substantial work done to tighten up the physics system which produced wonky incidents at times in FIFA 12, the “First Touch” ball handling system that helped further differentiate players and add an element of randomness that had been lacking when receiving passes increasing strategical decisions, enhanced CPU player AI, and tactical free kicks. These were all worthwhile changes that improved the gameplay experience while avoiding anything gimmicky in nature. Presentation remained a strength with fantastic commentary including the new “Match Day” feature which added relevant real world events.
In terms of feature set an already rich array of options were added onto with the expansion of the addictive (and still arguably the best mode in all of sports gaming) Online Seasons with the option to play in limited co-op or within Ultimate Team. Career mode received internationals, better transfer logic and negotiation processes, player loans, mid-season manager firings, and the ability to manage national teams. EA Sports Football club expanded further. Kinect voice commands were added and implemented well as an option to utilize during the free-flowing gameplay experience and even affected how officials might call the game when berated. It was by far the best use of Kinect with any sports game in 2012.
As with all the games this year FIFA 13 certainly had its fair share of issues. Various freezes and other stability issues were found within Career mode, lockups happened often when starting Online Season matches, some had players vanish from Ultimate Team squads, and the ball was found to be invisible in matches after having been in and later left Ultimate Team mode. Several patches were released to address the problems that consumers encountered within the first two months.
FIFA 13 delivered the complete package with excellent gameplay, presentation, online performance, level of content, and post-release support. The value was there from day one and even still grew over the life of the product. FIFA has been able to sustain the high fun factor and immense value despite its continued evolution and that is something other series have struggled to achieve over the years.
Year in Review
•#1 of 2012: FIFA 13
•#2 of 2012: NBA 2K13
•#3 of 2012: Madden NFL 13
•#4 of 2012: SSX
•#5 of 2012: UFC Undisputed 3
•#6 of 2012: Forza Horizon
•#7 of 2012: MLB 12: The Show
•#8 of 2012: NHL 13
•#9 of 2012: NCAA Football 13
•#10 of 2012: NFL Blitz
•2012 Community Choice Award Winners
•Vote for the 2012 Community Choice Awards
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Former Developer Rips EA Sports
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: MLB 2K12 Perfect Game Contest Controversy
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: The (at one time) Death of the MLB 2K Series
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Turning to Entertainers for Marketing Exposure
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Lawsuits Faced by Electronic Arts
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Disingenuous Marketing and Unfulfilled Features
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: The Disastrous Road Towards NBA Live 13