Weekend Reading: FIFA 13 and Constant Surprise

More games need to keep players on their toes, guessing

Most people know football from the Champions League, the European top club competition that has the best players and the biggest teams in the game, and from the World Cup, the competition that focuses on national teams and showcases extraordinary solid matches.

Here the passes are accurate, the shots mostly on target, defenders are solid, goalkeepers know when to punch and when to hold and the entire sport seems a symphony of motion and technique.

This was the football that the FIFA series was supposed to deliver to the virtual space and no game better embodies the approach than last year’s installment, with its precise geometry and its focus on the physics of the game.

But football also means matches in the lower tiers or in almost forgotten national competitions like the Romanian championship and they present an entirely different picture.

Here defenders are often sloppy and they fail to get balls under control, attackers lack dribbling skills and put their shots well wide of the target from promising positions, midfields fail to tackle cleanly or pass with any accuracy.

This is also football and, from at least one point of view, it is more interesting because the moment-to- moment action and the result are both more unpredictable, more surprising than those of higher quality competitions.

This is a side of football that FIFA 13, the new simulation from EA Sports, has managed to capture almost perfectly.

The game is still physics-focused and tactical in many ways, but perfect plans no longer link up with perfect execution to deliver phases that flow from one end of the pitch to the other and are finalized with beautiful shots that often end in goals.

FIFA 13 is a game about missed changes, unlucky moves, weird tackles, headers that go awry, all the elements that make football more than just geometry and math and one of the most surprising sports one can admire.

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