When it comes to Nintendo's upcoming home console, the Wii U, we at Everybody Plays have barely been able to contain our enthusiasm. With a new tablet controller, which simultaneously promises to make games easier to pick up and play, and opens the door to a whole host of new genres; a better online system; fancier graphics, and, of course, a whole host of amazing games, we've been counting down the days to its eventual release (which, according to our pyschic cat, Bessie, ought to be in November). But while we've mostly been stupidly excited, we have had one or two concerns. While we knew that Nintendo were going to be putting their weight behind their console, with a whole host of universally appealing games (and you only have to look as far as New Super Mario Bros U to see how Nintendo are going about getting the whole family involved), we were a tad worried about what may become of our favourite football series, FIFA, as it attempted to make the transition from the Wii to the Wii U.
Always looking to appeal to an entirely different market to the 360 and PS3's more "realistic" versions, FIFA on the Wii has tended to change pretty drastically from year to year, as it tries to strike the balance between accessibility and authenticity. The high point was arguably FIFA 11, which threw caution to the wind to create a football game that literally anybody could enjoy, no matter what their experience. With power-ups you could deploy before a particularly tricky match, like unlimited sliding tackles, which let you simply slide around the pitch like an odd footballer-shaped snake, and 100% shot accuracy, which meant you'd always manage to at least challenge the keeper, no matter where you were shooting from, FIFA 11 also came with a whole host of control schemes that let you play exactly how you wanted to. Letting you scale your input to a level that suited you, if you wanted complete control of your player, you could have it - but if you were just picking up a football game for the first time, you could choose the "All Play" mode, which let the computer control your player's movement for you, so all you had to worry about was pressing A to pass, and B to shoot. FIFA on the Wii was so accessible, we actually lost our first game against someone who'd never played a FIFA game before. And more importantly, people who weren't the world's most ardent football fans could enjoy it, too.
At a recent event, EA finally lifted the lid on their vision for FIFA 13 on the Wii U, revealing a game that... well... looked quite a lot like the 360 and PS3 versions. Gone were the Wii friendly menus, replaced by the serious, business-like presentation that's always previously been exclusive to the other platforms. Conspicuous by its absence was a mention of the All Play mode - although that's by no means confirmation that it won't feature in the game, while the power-ups would also appear to have been confined to the great gaming graveyard in the sky. Instead, the folks over at EA have put a lot of effort into using the Wii U's tablet-like GamePad, in an attempt to make FIFA 13 that little bit simpler.
First things first, rather than being a separately developed game, designed to take advantage of Nintendo's different, more casual market (as has always been the case with FIFA on the Wii), FIFA 13 on the Wii U is actually based on something of a halfway house between the 360/PS3's FIFA 12 and FIFA 13, with a few extra Wii U features bolted on - which would at least explain why it seems to be missing so many of the features that made the Wii versions so good. While that does mean we'll be able to enjoy newer, more realistic features like the "player impact engine", which adds a fancy physics engine to players, in an attempt to make tackles work a bit more like they would in real life, it also most likely means that what we'll be getting is essentially the same game as the other formats - which is quite a blow for us.
In previous games, the same problems have also applied to taking shots on goal. When you're approaching the net, unless you play an awful lot, it's often been hard to try and guess exactly where your shot's going to go. In FIFA 13 on the Wii U, the GamePad again goes a long way to taking a lot of the ambiguity out of things, by letting you aim using the Touch Screen. As you're approaching the goal, all you have to do is either click the left analogue stick, or shake the tablet, and you'll get an image of the goal appear on your controller - poke where you want the ball to go, and your player will shoot accordingly. Taking a lot of the hit and miss out of scoring, we're hoping this will go some way to levelling the playing field even further - although it remains to be seen how easy it'll be to take your eyes off the screen, look at the tablet, and decide where you want the shot to go without getting tackled in the mean time.