While these schemes are too fiddly to realistically be used during play, the latter comes into its own if you're playing as a manager. Think of it as barking orders from the touchline, if you will. If you've got a keen eye for a pass you might find yourself cradling the GamePad during five-player gaming sessions, where the pad-holder plays the mentor role, directing runs, tactics and plays for the rest of the team.
There are some teething problems outside of EA's control...
FIFA 13's myriad innovations show us Wii U has the potential to become the format of choice for local-multiplayer footy games - for as long as it takes for Microsoft and Sony to show their next-gen hand, at least. As you'd expect from a first attempt though, it isn't quite there yet. Some teething problems are out of EA Canada's control - such as the fact that the Wii U will only support one GamePad per console at launch. That's something Nintendo will address shortly afterwards with a hardware update, but when we asked if similar compatibility could be patched into FIFA 13, we were met with confused expressions. They won't know, apparently, until that update goes live.
Other shortcomings are symptomatic of a team still getting to grips on bold new hardware. We're not talking about technical issues, we hasten to add - even at this early stage, FIFA 13 is as crisp and smooth as any FIFA we've seen on 360 or PS3. Of course, considering it's running off of last year's FIFA 12 engine, that is to be expected.
Instead, the main problem is one of application. Our primary emotion was one of being overwhelmed. The touchscreen's tab system opens up a dizzying array of options, but selecting the right tab during the heat of battle is a fiddly experience. The menu screens themselves closely resemble those from the Xbox/PS3 versions, which is to say that they're poorly optimised for touch screen control.
Finicky menus actively discouraged us from tinkering with them during play. A cleaner, more intuitive interface would help it feel more cohesive with the action on the main screen. We expect this is going be a recurring trend as third-party developers bed in to the new hardware.
Growing pains aside, this is a confident first effort that points to FIFA having a strong future on Wii U. Whether or not it'll become the FIFA format of choice over the long haul will depend on control systems the Wii U's rivals pull out of their locker, but one thing is for certain; once you've experienced the satisfaction of having all that tactical power in your hands, you'll never go back.