A new addition for FIFA 13 are Skill Games, incorporated into the game using the new physics capabilities that came with the Impact Engine. On the surface it looks like they’re aimed at newcomers to FIFA (which they are) but they should also offer seasoned players a way to see areas of the games controls that they might not know about too. The idea primarily is aimed at teaching people the fundamentals of FIFA, step-by-step cranking up the difficulty of each particular skills area to show you more and more.
There are 32 games across 8 sections, Penalties, Ground Passing, Lobbed Passing, Dribbling, Shooting, Advanced Shooting, Crossing and Free Kicks (I’ve done those from memory so fingers crossed I’ve got them right…) each with three tiers, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The games range from hitting targets, chipping balls into bins, slalom dribbling to football tennis and plenty more including the apparently infamous (within the studio) “Gauntlet” that uses the full pitch and pulls various drills together.
When waiting to go into a match, you’ll no longer be placed into the Arena to have a kick about. Now you’ll be given a Skill Game to play instead. Each game has a target score that you need to achieve to unlock the next tier, and some restrict you to a certain number of attempts or put you against the clock. You pick a player from your set favorite team and then crack on.
The games chosen for you are kind of random initially, but they will start to push you towards skill areas you’ve not made much progress in eventually. If you don’t want to have them generated for you, or there’s a Skill Game you specifically want to work on, you can access them from the main menu, going into the Skill Game hub to manually select challenges. For most players the bronze challenges will be a breeze, but as you progress further, you’ll see plenty of variables chucked at you to keep you on your toes. That could be anything from adding defenders that are actively trying to block your passes at targets, giving you a smaller area to work in, reducing the number of attempts you have or, by turning the control settings to manual. For example in the football tennis game below, you control two players either side of a wall playing manual lobbed passes back and forth. As your score moves up the wall gets higher and the area you can actively play in decreases.
Once you’ve worked your way through the first three tiers you’ll then be faced with the Skill Challenge for that particular section, which in our experiences were brutal (and to be fair, still being tweaked). The ground passing Skill Challenge saw you in control of six players positioned around the edge of the centre circle, with two defenders trying to get the ball off of you. Your passing was set to manual and there was a squared-off perimeter around you, which you couldn’t step outside of or the challenge would end. It would also end if one of the two defenders were able to get a touch on the ball. Each successful pass between your players earned you points, with additional points also being awarded for passes between the two defenders, or by lobbing the ball over them and so on. Your target is to achieve the Legendary rating, which is the highest of four points brackets. At the end of the game your points are totaled and you’re shown your rank, which is then updated to the leaderboards.
The leaderboards can be used to compare your rank against your friends or the global lists, and offer some incentive to return to completed challenges if you’re keen to stay at the top. They’re currently missing any type of autolog or push functionality for telling people when you beat them however, but we pitched the idea to Aaron and he wrote it down so it might make it in. Who knows.
Overall we found the Skill Games in FIFA 13 to be a cool addition and certainly more fun and useful than twatting about in the arena pre-game. In terms of practice they’re a great idea too, for example one challenge puts you just outside the area and fires crosses in at you, allowing for plenty of volley practise, something that’s hard to replicate in a normal match in such volume. The fact that they’ll slowly show people the wider range of controls such as manual settings and crossing modifiers can only be a good thing really and the leaderboards have the potential to keep you coming back to Skill Games if EA can get a notification system working.
We’ve added some screens throughout to give you an idea of what they’re like, there’s a gallery below too.