I have been playing the EA FIFA soccer game franchise since I was a youngster, first battling it out over the SEGA MegaDrive if I remember correctly, before moving on to the various iterations on PC, PSOne, PS2, and XBOX 360.

In other words, I’m pretty damn familiar with the game.

This year marks the release of FIFA 13 and I must excitedly announce: this is by far the BEST FIFA release ever!

Although the graphics front hasn’t really advanced since the last couple of outings due to the console hardware restrictions, the developers have successfully managed to eliminate many of the minor gameplay niggles, as well as the annoying commentary glitches that had somehow managed to creep in the last two or so iterations.

Of course the most major addition to this year’s polish and release has been the removal of the old, almost automatic defensive system (which can be turned back on for gamers unable to adapt), in favour of a more manual system, which basically means you now need to get a whole lot smarter and skilled in defending, both in one on one situations as well as in terms of defensive strategy!

And yes, this means slide tackles have just become cool again.

My personal favourite of the new system is the ability to stick a foot out, which makes it a lot easier to intercept a travelling ball, trip up a player, or if you have to, just outright foul him in the hopes that the referee happens to be looking elsewhere (needless to say, the third isn’t actually a possibility).

The end result of the changes means a very fluid game, far less frustrating midfield grinds, a lot more scoring opportunities, keepers that don’t hold on to each and every shot fired at them, and in general, just a faster, more realistic, and more importantly, more enjoyable gaming experience, particularly when playing against another human opponent!

Of course there are a host of game modes, customizable options, key mappings and what not for the hardcore fans, and combined with a fantastic aural experience as well as a pretty slick presentation interface, FIFA 13 is no doubt an absolute winner this season.

Seriously, I can’t wait to take another crack at it again! :)