FIFA 13 Nintendo Wii U preview: What does the GamePad offer?
Look carefully at the picture above. What do you see? Sure, it's FIFA 13 on the Nintendo Wii U, but look a little closer and you'll notice an aiming reticule on the Wii U's GamePad, just one of the clever features that's coming to FIFA 13 on Nintendo's new machine.
In fact, this option lets you use the GamePad's display in first-person view for set pieces - meaning you'll get a better sense of the scene in front of you when you line up for that cracking curved shot.
We sat down with FIFA 13 on the Nintendo Wii U to have a look at some of the additional features coming to the next-gen console when it launches in November. As EA told us, this isn't just a straight port of the game from the version you'll find on the Xbox 360 or PS3, but a version that makes use of the Wii U's unique hardware.
Before we get there, it's worth saying just how good FIFA 13 looks on the Wii U. It's stunning. Graphically, it not only rivals, but in some cases surpasses, the current console versions. EA told us it had been able to increase the texture of the ground, for example, as well as increasing the resolution of the crowd, so Nintendo is no longer left on the bench when it comes to graphics.
The result is a game that's glorious to behold, both on the big screen and on the GamePad's 6.2-inch display.
Of course the GamePad brings with it a home advantage – as EA termed it – because you'll get a range of features that anyone with a standard controller will lack. Okay, that's not strictly true, as some of the options are available in menus, but access to a touch display means you can pull off a range of tricks to boost your chances on the pitch.
There's a precision shot feature that will let you place the shot exactly as you want, so rather than the slightly vague feeling when you toe the ball towards the net, you'll have more control over how you place it.
Shake the GamePad during normal play and a net will appear on the display: simply tap where you want to place the ball in the net and that's the shot you'll make. Of course, it isn't quite that simple as a lot of factors come into play.
Better players will have greater chances of making that shot accurately and the situation on the pitch also has an impact: if Messi is being harangued by defenders, even he might fluff it and the game reflects that.
Another features is touchscreen passing. This reduces the dependency on AI in the game, so you can make the pass you want and place the ball into a space for a player to run on to. You also get the option of ground or lob, based on the length of tap.
Of course these actions take place on the GamePad's display, without impacting on the main game on your TV, so while you are messing around with various things, like precision shot, the game will roll on as normal for anyone you might be playing against.
Naturally you don't have to use any of these features: you can play FIFA 13 on the Wii U exactly as you would on the Xbox. The additional features are complementary, rather than obligatory.
Looking to appeal to the casual or social gaming demographic at which the Nintendo Wii U is being pitched, one of the largest features of FIFA 13 on the Wii U is Manager Central.
This will let you make a lot of changes on the fly and means you can tap into a load of information (which you’d normally have to pause the game to access). You'll get access to statistics; you can set up substitutions that will automatically happen at the next break in play.
You can also view how players are performing, change the formation or the tactics and set up man marking. It might sound like an awful lot to be concentrating on while also concentrating on the game, but here's the clever bit: you can have someone else doing it.
That means you could have one person playing the game and someone else playing the manager – watching, looking to see what's not working tactically and making changes on the fly. It's ideal for those armchair football managers and designed to accommodate different roles on multiplayer games.
You can also opt to just manage a match. This is like a simulation match, but rather than just watching, you get all those options we mentioned on the GamePad, so you can have some Football Manager-esque control.
The result is exactly what we want to see from the Nintendo Wii U: a game that uses the hardware to best effect to give you something extra and something distinct from the other versions out there.
FIFA 13 is a launch title on the Nintendo Wii U, so you'll be able to get your hands on it when the console launches in your country.