But the Wii U's GamePad is a multifaceted tool, and along with giving you another way to pass the ball, it's also a budding manager's best friend. Down the side of the screen are a number of tabs, that let you delve into all the key information you could ever need during the game, letting you see how many shots have been made, where the shots have been made from, and even make substitutions, change tactics, and set up player marking on the fly. When playing in co-op, up to four people will be able to play together, using either a classic controller, or a nunchuck and Wii remote combo (again, there's been no mention of the Wii Remote only All Play mode so far), while a fifth takes on the role of the manager using the Wii U GamePad. Somewhat oddly, though, it's this managerial side of things that EA seem to have decided offers their best chance of encouraging new players to get involved with FIFA. Apparently, the idea of being able to micromanage a team while someone else plays the game will be incredibly appealing to 'dads, and more casual gamers', which seems a little bit odd to us - especially considering the changes that seem to have been made in other parts of the game.
Making the jump from the Wii to the Wii U was always going to be a difficult thing for FIFA to do, as the temptation would always be there to simply release what's effectively the 360/PS3 game on the Wii U, and hope for the best. And, as things stand at the moment, it seems like that's what we're going to be getting. While we certainly appreciate the Wii U GamePad features, and can see how they'll make things a little bit easier (at least, for one player, as the Wii U can only support a max of two GamePads at the same time), it doesn't help us shake the feeling that EA seem to be doing exactly what we were worried they'd do - abandoning everything that we liked about FIFA on the Wii, in favour of taking things in a more "serious" direction for the Wii U. And it's this that we can't understand. While the presentation at EA's event kept talking about Nintendo's different demographic, and how they wanted to make a football game the whole family can play, the direction FIFA 13's taken seems to suggest exactly the opposite. With its much more serious presentation and career mode, emphasis on realism, and apparent lack of any power-ups, it's hard to see how this is a game that's meant to appeal to families more than what's gone before. Being able to make a substitution with the GamePad won't make up for the removal of many of the features that we loved about FIFA on the Wii, and certainly won't be enough to get people playing if they've never picked up a FIFA game before.
While we may have our concerns, though, we're not ready to write FIFA 13 on the Wii U off just yet, as there's a lot about the game that's yet to be unveiled. We're yet to have any official confirmation about the uber-accessible All Play control scheme for one, although we're keeping everything crossed that it's survived the transition (as without it, FIFA 13 will be anything but family friendly) - it's just that everything we've seen so far seems to be trying as hard as it possibly can to move away from the previous Wii FIFA games, in the more serious direction of the other console versions. And that could really be a mistake. FIFA on the Wii used to be a refuge for those who wanted an accessible football game that everyone could play - girlfriends, boyfriends, moms, dads, children and grandparents - for anyone who didn't care as much about the realism as the fun, FIFA was their game, because it was so different to FIFA on the other formats. And that's the problem here. If you want the 360 version of FIFA, you'll likely buy the 360 version of FIFA. That market is already more than catered for on their consoles of choice, and a few more accessible GamePad options probably won't encourage them to take a chance on the Wii U version. Had FIFA 13 openly embraced its daft Wii heritage, and gone all out to promote itself as a fun football game the entire family could get in on, it'd at the very least stand more of a chance of carrying fans of the Wii version across - and, as a Wii U launch title, could potentially pick up a whole new market in the process. Instead, FIFA 13 appears to looks ready to turn its back on the more casual players, in favour of giving us the same FIFA we've been used to on every other console - only this time with GamePad controls. Luckily, FIFA 13 is still coming out on the Wii later this year, so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that at least one will stay true to its roots - but even less is known about that than the Wii U version. Either way, we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that EA have just been saying what they think FIFA fans want to hear, and that FIFA 13 will retain at least some of the Wii FIFA magic - as it's one of the only games that's been confirmed to be a Wii U launch title, we'll know for sure how it's turned out by Christmas.