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Far Cry 3

I’m lying on the ground in a wooded area with the sun shining through the colourful trees and plants as they sway gently in the tropical breeze. To my left is a car that I parked up a few minutes ago while I went foraging for herbal supplies. While the trees and plants were swaying gently my arm was thrashing violently. Why? Because it had a leopard attached to it. I kick and slash at it and run for the Jeep as I realize my gun is out of ammo and my health bar is flashing dangerously low. I reverse rapidly back onto the dirt road only to crash into a Jeep full of angry pirates. With no health syringes I am destined to die behind my battered yellow car as their bullets start flying. Suddenly I hear a loud roar and screaming. I have been blessed with one of the wonderful interactions that can be seen in Far Cry 3. For whatever reason the leopard has pounced onto a pirate, tearing him apart and distracting his friends who are now firing wildly at my former foe; but as they say, ‘The enemy leopard of my enemy is my friend’. With the help of Lance (cool name for a leopard I think), we finish off the pirates quickly and I bid Lance a fond farewell as he starts growling at a Boar herd nearby.

Ubisoft have done a tremendous job in making the world of Far Cry 3 feel as natural and as organic as the hallucinogenic plants you munch on throughout the game. You will often come across herds of different animals and their predators, which will hunt and kill them; or civilians with broken down vehicles asking for help. The emphasis is very much on survival and using the environment rather than popping down to the local store to get what you need. Granted you still have a shop to buy ammo, maps and weapons (with bizarre items it has to be said) but in order to carry and use more ammo or medical supplies you will need to make larger and larger ammo belts or syringe kits. To do this requires crafting the items you need from certain plants and animals in different combinations. In doing so it adds an element of survivability that most game developers either skip over or simply forget to include; it gives the game more depth and a sense of dependency on the environment around you which is unique.

So why are you running around this tropical island slaying animals and getting high? The story is told through the eyes Jason Brody who came to Rook Island with his friends and brothers but who were kidnapped by a scary eyed man named Vaas. Vass is a complete nut job to put it bluntly, and it is down to you to find him, kill him and save your friends. Unlike the previous installment you are not fighting alone; instead you are fighting for the native people of Rook Island against Vaas, and his army of pirates and mercenaries. The natives will come to your aid if they see you fighting the pirates and you can choose to return the favour if you see the two sides fighting each other-or raging leopards. In this way the game feels more immersive and you feel like you have a duty to help the native people which motivates you into taking back territory claimed by the pirates. This is a far cry (Come on, you knew it was going to happen) from the previous installment, which had practically no one in the maps save for a few angry mercs in various outposts or the two only towns. To Ubisoft’s credit, they seemed to have addressed this issue so now the world is busy with friends and foes alike making the game feel more wholesome and you feel as though you are not alone for the main story.

Following the main story is, paradoxically, a secondary feature as the game urges you to explore the island and complete side quests such as delivery of medical supplies (a checkpoint race against the clock) or hunting down a rare creature with a bow to create unique items and unlocks.  I only mentioned two of these but there are others and the variety makes the game even more enjoyable if you get bored of hunting for loot and completing the main quest. Despite the variety and the great passive interaction between the AI I always find that these types of open world games can be too long and I find myself starting to think about playing other games. So be warned, players may find even this polished and immersive game repetitive after a few weeks of playing.

I have to say I am equally disappointed with the Co-op and multiplayer experience. At first I thought it was quite an enjoyable alternative to perhaps Battlefield or Halo but the servers are always empty. People simply have no need or time for another multiplayer game in their lives and this is painfully obvious when you try and join a game, especially if you want to try out some of the Ubisoft handpicked player made maps. As a consequence you are forced to play Team Deathmatch on the vanilla maps, which are, well, vanilla. Couple this with a small variety of weapons and pitiful attempt to replicate the Call of Duty killstreak system; throwing all this in with dodgy internet connections means you quickly tire of the multiplayer and go back to the single-player or another game entirely.

Most people wouldn’t choose to go back the Co-op either since that is equally buggy and frustrating. When it works its better than a G and T in the sun but sadly it simply breaks more often than G and T breaks sobriety. The concept is innovative and adventurous with four players controlling a set of characters who are trying to escape prior to the main events of the single-player, and giving them an opportunity to compete with each other at certain moments to obtain the best score and win the most experience points. The last time I played this was the mission Overboard. At one point on a riverboat you are armed with a machine each and have to kill as many pirates as possible before you reach the other end of the river. Almost immediately the game glitched and we all awkwardly got stuck at the back of the boat, eventually falling off and having to run alongside the boat trying to keep up. It also made killing the pirates easier since you could see where they spawned and rack up chain kills. Easier made it boring. Far Cry also couldn’t detect when all the players had reached a cue point and wouldn’t allow us to proceed to the next area. After 10 minutes of my player muttering ‘Uh oh. Can’t go that way!’ my teammates and me quit one by one.  Admittedly I have only attempted to play five co-op missions but each has broken and ended up with me quitting the game in frustration and disappointment.

Overall, disappointing is the calling card of Far Cry 3. It has, however, certainly raised the bar for the sandbox style of games. I appreciate that they have taken Far Cry from the browns and yellows of the African plains to the mind melting technicolour dreamcoat that you see in the Pacific. The developers have tried hard to take the game play back to its roots of desperate survival that made the first Far Cry incredibly gripping by playing a character eager to escape from the clutches of evil mercenaries in a tropical paradise gone wrong. Perhaps it is wrong to use the term ‘back’; more like ‘improve’ on what made the first Far Cry so fun and interesting. Don’t be put off by the similarities to the first game, the story and game play have changed a lot since then and the world can be more friendly or more hostile depending on if nature chooses to spare you. Instead be put off by the mediocre multiplayer and Co-op, which deliver nothing but awkward despairing frustration – much like Miley Cyrus and twerking.

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Minecraft

Graphics have come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years, with designers having the ability to make their games characters look almost lifelike. However one game, with its basic, blocky and pixelated graphics holds a place in my heart. Markus ‘Notch’ Persson’s brain child, Minecraft. Some may say it is outdated and childish, but I think it is unique, charming and almost iconic in the way it is instantly recognisable all around the world. A game where you can build, hunt, farm and craft everything you own from scratch, from necessities such as torches and weapons, to decorative items such as windows and bookcases. Fight ‘mobs’ such as Zombies, Skeletons and Poisonous Spiders to survive and collect XP to enhance your weapons and armour.

The main selling point of Minecraft is the creative license it allows you.  If you have met me, you will know I am about as creative as a brick wall, and last Mother’s Day I gave my mum a piece of cardboard with some Rose petals glued to it, but one day when playing Minecraft I decided to build a replica of the Taj Mahal. It actually looked incredible and I have never felt so much self-pride! Minecraft opens up this world of creativity that most people do not think they are capable of. Most people start small, building a hut or a basic mine, then slowly you start to get cocky and by the end of the week you are attempting to build a full scale model of the Eiffel Tower.

Minecraft can be played in several modes: creative, survival, adventure and hard-core. You can create whole different worlds in any of these modes, which you can play according to your mood. If you are in a bad mood you might want to play in survival mode as there is nothing more satisfying than slaying cave spiders when you are angry, and if you are feeling badass you can play in hard-core mode, where once you die, the game is over. The different modes allow for progression, and keeps the game fresh. On top of this Mojang are constantly releasing updates, bringing in new items for crafting, new enchantments, new mobs to fight and new animals to find. My personal favourite, in update 1.6, is the inclusion of horses, which is a big step up from having to ride a pig… There are also modifications and texture packs available, to allow the gamer to personalise their worlds to their own taste. However, Minecraft is not just a limitless game that goes on forever, you can chose to fight the ‘Mob Bosses’; giving gamers a target and something to aim towards, which some people prefer.

Minecraft, however, does have some annoying problems. Crafting in this game is vast, and it is almost impossible to remember the countless crafting recipes, and none are documented in the game itself. To find the recipes you have to go to forums such as ‘MinecraftWiki’, Mojang’s version of Wikipedia. I use this website so much it is bookmarked on my internet browser, as whenever I am playing Minecraft I am constantly having to click between the two. If you want to play Minecraft with some friends, you may also have some problems as the multi-player mode is so complicated it practically requires a PhD to get it set up, but if you do manage it, it is definitely worth it. If you are playing online you may find the game has noticeable lag, which can be frustrating when waiting for new landscapes to load. There are also some technical glitches that can occur occasionally which can result in random holes in the scenery.

Overall though, Minecraft will always be a favourite of mine, and according to the 12 million people that have currently downloaded it, I am not alone. If you love adventure, or have a creative flare that you just can’t satisfy in the real world, Minecraft is definitely for you.

 

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SimCity

SimCity is a simulation city builder that’s name has spanned over 20 years. Infamous for its colourful graphics and complex simulation engine, SimCity can keep you entertained for hours. Be it keeping a handle on crime, developing cities to reach for the sky with glitzy skyscrapers or having an industrial super power; SimCity has it all. Now, with computers more powerful than ever, the simulation and content of the game promises to blow all us virtual mayors away!

Having waited a decade for a new SimCity to be released, fans were wetting themselves with excitement come Thursday 7th March 2013. Many would find themselves staying up late into Thursday night waiting for the clock to strike one minute past twelve, Friday morning. At this point SimCity was released for download. Alas, it has been a tumultuous launch for the highly anticipated game. Electronic Arts (EA) who own the developer Maxis, insisted on an “always-online” format for the game. They claim it is because the game’s simulation is so advanced, mega computers are needed to process the information and this can only be done on the massive servers within EA. This reporter feels it is more a ruse for EA to easily add micro-transactions to the game. Buy this for 50p, buy this for £1; a new expansion is coming for £7.99. Something which is available from launch incidentally, are three country specific themed expansion packs. It just shows the direction the game has taken.

So, you have to be online to load the game and all your saved cities are stored on the servers. In this day and age where your phone has better internet then the majority of households did 5 years ago, it’s not such a big deal. That is until some incredibly dumb person in EA’s accountancy department decided that money was more important than whether or not the game works. SimCity launched initially in the USA on Tuesday 6th March. I was a disaster. All the servers filled up in a matter of minutes and the majority of people who had purchased the game, weren’t actually able to play it. If you did get into a game, it crashed or froze. People were up in arms about EA’s no refunds for downloaded content and the USA media latched onto the poor performance from EA. The launch has made front page on newspapers, headlines in news programmes and the forums are buzzing with comments.

Come launch night in the UK, same issues. I personally had been anxious about the UK launch, hoping the issues would be resolved or we’d be unaffected. How naïve of me. Initially, the game worked fine but come Friday afternoon when I really wanted to get some hours under my belt, I was sat staring at the dreaded servers are full, log in unavailable and numerous other messages. If I could load the game, none of my cities would load. I quit after an hour of waiting and went and did something else. Credit where credits due though because checking forums for the latest Saturday, and EA were spamming announcements about how they are working around the clock to improve server stability and capacity. Come Saturday night, hey presto. Everything was working seamlessly and I sat down to get a few hours mayoring under my belt. What a way to spend a Saturday evening!

After getting accustomed to the controls, how the game works and building some bits and pieces, I can say this game is a masterpiece…nearly! The graphics are incredible, the gameplay is brilliant and the grip it gets on you is intense. And this is where it all falls down. Once you have played for a few hours and built something of decent size, you start to notice all the things that just don’t make sense. Emergency vehicles sat in traffic lights and sirens blaring, a population of 100,000 but only 10,000 workers, cars all trying to use one road. There’s so much that just isn’t finished. You are constantly hounded by alerts of crime and fires even if you have 50 police cars. They all just sit in traffic and all go to the same crime scene. Population is hugely inflated so you always have underemployment. Traffic completely cripples your city because your beloved sims are all using the same road. This is meant to be the most advanced simulation game out there. EA and Maxis drilled it into on lookers that everything in the game will be simulated. It just isn’t.

I have been trying to hold off for as long as possible writing this review in the hope that an announcement from EA comes to the fore or some of the problems are fixed. I would love to tell you this game is sensational and a 2013 must have but at the moment, all I can say is buy it pre-owned in 6 months when it has been patched and is working as it should be. Then it will truly be epic. Sadly though, I fear the damage to the SimCity name may be irrevocable and this will be the last SimCity we see!
This game should be a solid 10/10 but I can only give it 4/10. These 4 are because yes the graphics are great, the game is fun but there’s just too many bugs.

Maybe I’ll review it again in a month or two once these issues have been ironed out and I can give it the 10/10 it deserves.

Campbell, out!

 

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Treyarch have done it again! The 9th Call of Duty has finally been released and I for one practically wrestled it off the postman the day it was delivered. The question is though, will Call of Duty; Black Ops II live up the standards of not only its’ eight predecessors, but the standards of its rival competitors such as Halo: Combat Evolved and Battlefield 3? I am a self-confessed PlayStation gamer so I bought Call of Duty: Black Ops II for PS3.

To start off I headed straight for ‘Campaign’, and instantly noticed to differences. The graphics have been undeniably improved, far more colourful and crisp, with returning characters looking almost lifelike as they guide you through an immersive and emotional storyline written by David Goyer, the co-director of The Dark Knight.  Unlike previous Call of Duties, the outcome of the new Campaign is determined by personal choices you make along the way, giving the game added realism. However, for those of you who care less about the narrative, and came here purely for epic single-player war play, you will not be disappointed. There are plenty of new missions, and plenty of opportunities to be in control, and, with the added bonus of the impressive new graphics and sound quality, it can definitely cause some ‘edge of your seat’ moments.  The most exciting difference I noticed, which also applies to Multi-Player, is the brand new ‘create-a-class’ layout. You can now choose a weapon plus perks at the start of a mission, according to which map or mood you are in. As I am possibly the worst sniper in the history of Call of Duty, I can now modify a DSR 50 or Ballista to get some much-needed practice in. I am usually a girl that gets my jollies off playing Multi-Player, but I am I became so involved in the energy and depth of the Campaign that I completed it in under two days, much to the disgust of my roommate.

Next I moved onto my old faithful, ‘Multi-Player’. This is a great starting point for newbies and people who are less confident with the game as you can engage in ‘combat training’ playing against enemy bots. There are three modes all designed to allow you to practice with-out the stress and pressure of playing against Call of Duty fanatics who had undoubtedly reached Prestige twice the same day the game was released. ‘Boot camp Mode’ allows you to play against enemy bots in a Team Deathmatch; the main aim of this is to practice your gun control. This is extremely helpful as there are several changes and attachments to the weapons you can now choose, and if you are anything like me and are not naturally good at anything, you will need a few practice attempts before being allowed into the public domain. The ‘Objectives Mode’ allows you to practice the different missions that are available on multi-player. This is always a good idea if you are new to Call of Duty as some of the missions can be confusing and hectic if you don’t have a clue what the objective is, resulting in you getting shot in aggression by your own teammates… Some gamers will be happy that old favourites such as ‘Kill Confirmed’, ‘Capture the Flag’, and ‘Search and Destroy’ are back, with a few new additions such as ‘Hard-Point’. The final mode is ‘Bot Stomp’ similar to ‘Boot Camp’ but no XP is awarded; it also gives you a chance to really brush up your skills before playing online.

Now you are ready to play against real people in the scary online world of multi-player. Even if you are one of the gamers that ‘race to prestige’ don’t forget to check out huge overhaul Treyarch have carried out for your enjoyment. Needless to say the increased quality of graphics and sound has drastically improved the game play, however the creators have gone the extra mile in trying to make the game as realistic as possible by heightening a players awareness, even down to tiny details such as hearing the footfall of your enemy. This has been accused, however, of being ‘unrealistic’ as footsteps and grenade pins are not heard in real warfare, as the sound of gunfire is too loud. However, gamers must remember, that this is just a game. I do have one small issue that I thought would be resolved by now, and that is the fact that all the guns practically sound the same when fired, which, if the creators were going for realism, is a pretty obvious oversight.

The biggest change that practically slaps you in the face as soon as you sign in is the previously mentioned ‘create-a-class’. I personally loved this change, as it allows you to choose a weapon and add modifications and perks adding to a total of 10, according to your personal choice. You can change the perks and attachments depending on your mood, your strengths, weaknesses, and choice of map or objective; it is entirely up to you. For example, on maps such as ‘Overflow’ and ‘Aftermath’ which are very graphically hectic and it is difficult to spot enemy players, you can now attach a target finder to your weapon of choice, allowing for much more precision. I now find myself having a full-blown break down when customising a class, which I am pretty sure, is not healthy.  This new create-a-class will undoubtedly allow players to become highly skilled and achieve kill- streaks that were not possible in the previous Call of Duty.

All in all most of the changes in multi-player are fantastic. The ability to now record or stream your game-play live to the internet has created an influx of wannabe YouTube gamers, and I am constantly in awe when I watch 12 year olds with the weapon ability of an SAS officer. The new maps are, as always, completely up to personal preference; I for one love a few of the new maps and dislike others, but I think that will be true for every Call of Duty that will be released. In terms of ‘replay-ability’, I think it scores pretty highly, as the new objectives, maps and class creation should keep it fresh and fun for a while. There are a few tweaks needed here and there but hopefully Treyarch will have that sorted by the next edition.

Last but by no means least, is everyone’s favourite, ‘Zombies’.  I personally don’t get on with Zombies, not because I’m a girl and it’s too gory or scary, but because I have terrible eyesight and find the graphics too dark so I am constantly getting eaten. However I donned my glasses and dove in for some un-dead action. It was clear to see straight away that the mechanics have been improved here too, with colours and textures definitively enhanced. Revolving around the centrepiece ‘TranZit’, gamers will be happy to hear there are still plenty of hidden Easter eggs waiting to be found in the four maps, as you take on the increasing difficult waves of flesh eaters, allowing you endless hours of gaming without getting bored. Most of the classic perks have been kept on but unlike the last Call of Duty ‘Zombies’, new players receive no new perks, and have to obtain their perks by ‘perma-perk’ challenges, which some players will find difficult. However, without too many spoilers, the new Zombies is a plethora of hidden surprises that could keep any gamer happy for hours on end, unlocking weapons, perks and areas. This edition feels less like an add-on to the game, and still holds its title as one of the gamers’ favourites.

 

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Battlefield 3

With the launch of Battlefield 4 imminent it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on what made the older brother so fun to hang around with. I first tried playing Battlefield 3 when it was back in the public beta stage; and I found it more frustrating than trying to eat custard with a fork. Despite this insta-judgement I persevered and quickly fell in love with its meaty sounding weapons and stunning graphics.  I guess I should also mention I found shooting other players fun as well.  Perhaps what made the game for me was how refreshing the game play was. Going back to the frustration I felt earlier, I gradually realized that nothing had rivaled Call of Duty for so long that I almost instinctively started running around, bunny hopping and hip firing until, in a sitting on the toilet epiphany kind of moment, I realized this was not Call of Duty and my whole style of play was completely misjudged.  Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy that franchise, but I am tired of the quick scoping and the constant disbelief that comes with it.  Perhaps I am getting old and ‘mature’ but I do prefer Battlefield 3‘s wine and cheese tasting to Call of Duty‘s Big Mac.

Of course I do not mean this literally (I still love you Big Mac’s!) but the game play feels much faster paced and furious without the need for perks or kill streaks. If you are sniped then instead of feeling teeth grinding, neighbour intimidating resentment, you feel impressed more than anything else since these snipers have to take into account bullet drop and distance.  The best word I can think of to describe my style of play is patient. Battlefield 3 teaches you to crouch or crawl your way to the nearest rock, fence or burning wreck to flank that one irritating machine gunner suppressing your team mates rather than run straight at them.  It teaches you this by the quick deaths, the suppression system and slow health regeneration without a med kit. The suppression system, more than anything, taught me to slow down and actually think about how to engage a target. If you are being fired at, which will be most of the time, the screen will go out of focus and if you return fire the shots will become increasingly inaccurate as you become more and more suppressed. Eventually of course you will start taking hits and die or find cover and the suppression will break. You quickly learn that good players will be able to suppress and kill you within seconds.

These good players will also be team players if you are lucky enough to have joined the right match. Most of the time you will be the unluckiest person in the world at that point. However, the emphasis on team play relies heavily on the different classes. Each class will have a unique set of weapons and lovely gadgets to tinker with and these classes are: Assault/Medic, Engineer, Heavy Machine gunner and Sniper. Working together, these different classes would form a formidable unit.  The Assault class can throw down med packs that quickly heal nearby soldiers and also revive teammates. The engineer can crack out a handy repair tool or-something which will have you in stitches for hours- go head to head with other players with an EOD robot depending on how helpful or aggressive players wish to be. The machine gunner can provide (you guessed it) heavy firepower or an ammo box to feed hungry guns. Finally, the Sniper can plant a radio beacon that can act as a mobile spawn point. While I do enjoy the class based system, unless you play with a small group of friends or some sort of clan, it can become tiresome after the medic in your squad simply ignores your dying corpse and decides to take on a tank with pistol for the hundredth time in a game, or the machine gunner chooses to not lay down ammo.

I choke back bitter feelings towards this anonymous player who, during a game repeatedly ignored the whole squads plea for ammo and who I personally blame for the loss of the game. Despite my bitter sentiment, the multiplayer is extraordinary in terms of quality and variety. The maps are vast, varied and interesting and become even more so depending on what type of game mode you wish to play. I could happily play them over and over until I keeled over. In some maps such as Tehran Highway or Seine Crossing, you have city environments. Others such as Bandar desert or Nebandan Flats are vast expanses peppered with small outposts perfects for long-range combat.

Either way you will need transport to get you from place to place and there is no better feeling than a group of you jumping out of a hovering transport chopper with all guns blazing to capture an objective.  The vehicles are just as varied as the maps and you will see plenty of vehicles storming across the maps. In a similar fashion to the weapon upgrades, vehicle upgrades can be unlocked by killing the enemy team, which will in turn improve the vehicle combat effectiveness. My personal favorite combination on a tank for example is to have a proximity scan to detect nearby infantry, infrared smoke to avoid lock-on from enemy missiles and a guided shell for extra firepower.

The campaign is where Battlefield 3 slips over and breaks itself into clichéd shrapnel of terrorists and an invasion of a middle eastern country where you destroy all and sunder while chasing said terrorist.  I would only play the campaign if I was really stuck for anything else to play or my Internet was down. It is visually impressive and the AI makes it a tough challenge but it is painfully obvious that the developers were more focused on designing the multiplayer aspect. And for that I am actually grateful.  I am somewhat surprised that the Co-op aspect was not expanded upon since it was a nice alternative to both the multiplayer and the campaign, even if after over 10 attempts at the finale I still couldn’t knife the big bad terrorist properly.

Battlefield 3, like its aging predecessors, is a true multiplayer game. It gives you a vast array of interesting weapons and vehicles to play with then hands you the vast maps to drive, fly and run around on.  What makes this game so appealing is its ability to make you appreciate every shot you fire. Whether it is a machine gun or a TV missile from a helicopter, every shot counts; and believe me you will feel incredibly smug with yourself when you kill someone with a TV missile. What is also special about Battlefield 3 is also its name. The game is exactly what is: a huge 64 player (on PC only. HA!) battlefield with small scale, large scale skirmish. The next time you play Battlefield 3 get to some place where you won’t get shot and just watch over the map. When you spend five minutes watching jets scream across the maps or two tank armies clash as AA fire streaks through the sky then you will understand why I will always love this game.

 

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FIFA 13

          Picture this; you build up play slowly from defense, switch the ball to the flanks, cut inside and feed the creative ‘number 10’ player who slides a perfectly weighted pass into the path of your lightning-quick striker. The opposition ‘keeper rushes out, and you dink the ball over him and watch as it rolls into the net. The crowd erupts. Perfection. Fifa 13.

The beautiful game just keeps getting better. Fifa 13 takes the way we play football to new heights. Simply put, the game feels real. The quality of a player’s first touch is dependant on their skill level. If you slightly under-hit a pass it will be intercepted, over-hit a pass and the ball will evade its intended recipient, who will then remonstrate with the passer. Amazing. It is now extremely difficult to dribble around entire defenses and smash one in the top corner. You have to earn it. A new ‘attacking intelligence’ feature means your players will work as a team when attacking, and then it is up to you to pick the right pass or cross. Opposition defenders read the game well, and will happily pick off any sloppy attempts. The new defensive system that was implemented in Fifa 12 has been retained and refined, meaning you will have to work equally as hard in defense as in attack. At first this is a lot to master, but my word it is satisfying when you do master it. This is the closest a football game as ever got to the real thing.

Take my first match; I launched straight into Career mode and the media opinion was that I needed a win in my first match to silence the doubters. No worries I thought. What transpired was a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to some Italian minnows, where I failed to record a single meaningful effort on goal, and was mercilessly taken apart on the counter attack. I miss controlled balls, failed to find my target with numerous passes and gave away dozens of free kicks. ‘This is s**t’, I said to myself. But it isn’t, not at all. What it is, is an absolute masterpiece. What EA have managed to create is the perfect blend of fun and hard work.

With the Fifa games, I have taken the incredible level of detail in player likenesses, stadiums, kits and commentary for granted. These are all present in Fifa 13, and they have all been tweaked to make it an even more immersive experience. The commentary has great depth, and observations are fluid and instant. Even the immeasurably dull tones of co-commentator Alan Smith are tolerable. The crowd noise is spine-tinglingly good. Various teams’ fans have new chants, and they are particularly audible when your team are in the ascendancy.

Career mode offers you the chance to be a manager, dealing with all aspects of your chosen team, such as transfers, budget negotiations, scouting and media duties. The transfer system is much more realistic than in previous titles, no longer will Wayne Rooney inexplicably join West Ham United. The inclusion of transfer deadline day is a lovely touch. You can create a player to join a team and work your way up from starlet to superstar, eventually going on to manage the team. Ultimate Team is back and better than ever, with numerous items available to create your dream team. If you grow frustrated with the new game-play, you can always rely on playing online against an opponent who pays little attention to tactical defending.

My fear was always that Fifa 13 would be a mere continuation of the franchise. I’m delighted to say that those fears were swiftly put to rest. I tip my proverbial hat to the games’ creators. It goes without saying that the game looks fantastic. The way the game plays, however, has been revolutionised to such a scale that the mind boggles as to how they can improve on this latest instalment. Whilst I was playing this game, a friend walked into the room, glanced at the telly and said, ‘I didn’t know there was a game on, who’s playing?’ That, ladies and gents, says just about all there is to say.

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