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FIFA 13: First look at Manager Mode, Skill Games and more

We travel to EA Canada to see FIFA's newest features...

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"As you know, you have certain goals to accomplish as a manager and as a player at the club you choose," says Jaramillo, "and depending on whether your achieving them or you're overachieving them, nations who are looking at your actions will contact you to manage - or play for - their national side."

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Jaramillo says that a large chunk of the FIFA team has been dedicated to 'getting internationals right'. This means that everything from team selection, to press reactions, to new match atmospheres, to national anthems to fixtures has reportedly been implemented. Players will be able to compete in both qualifiers and tournaments for the European Championship, the World Cup, and the Confederation Cup. Whether this means we've seen the last of a FIFA World Cup title is unconfirmed, but for the next year, at least, players will be able to compete for both club and country.

Alongside the improvement to Career Mode, FIFA 13 has built a brand new mode in the form of Skill Games. These are essentially a selection of 32 mini-games based around the different disciplines in football; passing, crossing, dribbling, shooting, advanced shooting, lobs, taking penalties and taking free kicks. Players can enjoy the Skill Games in a standalone mode, or they can dip in and out of them as they replace the goalie vs player one-on-one mini-game that takes place between matches.

The Skill Games are weirdly compelling; they start off at a rather easy difficulty level (Bronze), which quickly becomes tantalizingly hard (Silver and then Gold). The Bronze level of crossing, for example, tasks the player with hitting some fairly large targets in the box by lobbing in a cross from a marked area down the wing. If they succeed in doing this, players will then have to cross the ball from further away, and hit smaller targets. We didn't get to the Gold level in the time we had at the game's controls.

The Skill Games also pull off a neat trick, enticing players to compete for bragging rights while familiarizing them with the game's controls at the same time. Players who couldn't be bothered to improve at free kicks, penalties and finesse shots now have a couple of decent reason to do so; beyond showing off to mates on the leaderboards, the Skill Games (like everything else in FIFA 13 award players with XP that feeds into their standing in the EA Sports Football Club.

Channon says that a big part of FIFA 13 is aimed at rewarding players for picking up a copy of FIFA 12 the year before. As was the case with last year's iteration, players earn XP for competing both on and offline and successfully completing weekly EAFC challenge scenarios, which boost their position on the global leaderboards. However, FIFA 13 introduces something called the EA Sports Football Club Catalogue, which Channon says is a series items players can unlock within the game.

"As you earn XP you'll also earn what we're calling Football Club Credits," says Channon, "and you'll be able to take these to purchase different components and different features to enhance your overall experience."
"Some of these are purely cosmetic - such as balls, boots, kits - but some of them are also game-changing aspects, too," says Channon.

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When pressed on this, Channon reveals that not only will players be able to edit squad members - for the first time, they'll be able to make sure Alexandre Song's ridiculous hair-do is up to date in their game for the entire season - but they'll also unlock useful items in Career Mode. One example of this is a fast-track free pass into the job of international manager for players who don't fancy grinding away in Career Mode until their job-level rating meets the necessary requirements for a national call-up.

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