Platform Xbox360, PS3
Release Date Out Now.
It’s that time of year again, time for another outing of FIFA but rather than the usual small tweaks and team sheet updates, this year’s FIFA 12 sees some dramatic changes. They do build on the already stable recipe but it is fair to say this year’s changes are game changing.
EA talk about Revolution not evolution with FIFA12 and they are not wrong, the biggest and best improvement is the real time physics engine. Rather than a series of preprogramed animations for contact everything now happens in real time. So the tiniest clip to the heftiest leg breaker, all cause different reactions from the opposing player. This is what makes the game look real you can even catch the player twice and it will actually change his falling direction. Players now stumble and find their feet again and you get a particular satisfaction from upending players like Bellamy.
It does introduce an new problem though and that’s players stopping after the ball hits them, blocking a simple cross and getting the ball to fall to your feet should result in a simple clearance, but on more than an occasion the ball has caused the defender to stop dead for a split second but it’s enough for the striker to get the ball again in a dangerous position.
Vision is the second main addition, this is individualised to each and every player, Fabregas for example has a much greater field of vision that say Richard Dunne. What this allows is for the player on the pitch to spot that extra option others might not see, to have that almost sixth sense of not only knowing where your team mates are but also where they are going to be in a few seconds time. Letting you play that sublime through ball no one else would see, to spot the out player in the open on the far side of the pitch. The greater the field of vision, the better your chance of making that extra special pass, the better the player the bigger the field of vision.
The third and most controversial change is the tactical defending. EA have removed the “Press” button which was the bane of online play. Coming up against a defence like Chelsea all the player had to do was hold X and they would go and win the ball. It made defending simplistic and boring while crowding out the attackers. Tactical defending causes the players to stand off until you initiate the tackle. It takes some getting used to and is getting mixed reports from players some love it some hate it but it’s an improvement for the better, it just not quite there yet.
Its main problem is that your other defenders have a habit of standing around ball watching as the attackers waltz by. After a lot of games I was starting to get to grips with it at Semi-pro level but any move up to Pro (which I would normally by quite comfortable at) is met with a flurry of silly goals. In turn then when attacking it’s sometimes easier to slowly walk with the ball in the penalty area rather than to pass it to try and score as the defenders just seem to shield you when they should be sticking a foot in.
Goal Keepers are also causing problems not coming for crosses, I’ve lost count of the number of goals scored past me 3 yards from goals. Anything in the six yard box the keeper should be on top on in a flash.
The Career mode is my hunting ground, the whole interface has been cleaned up a lot to make navigation easier. You can take the role of star player of your own creation, or take the role of manager or even player manager. The option is there to control just your own character, or the whole team when playing matches. This of course puts you in the Premier league (if playing with UK team) and all related competitions, you have to manage the squad. That’s not just who plays and where, but also man managing as players loose form, get tired, look for more on field time and pick up injuries, all the time protecting their massive egos.
The transfer system has been improved but fans of any managerial series will find this extremely basic but it is there and it does work for all the teams, players move around the clubs quite a bit and they even have the added excitement of transfer dead line day which counts down the hours remaining in a Sky sports vibe.
The game could really do with another level of difficulty in the middle, the disparity between Semi-pro and Pro as mentioned above is way too big. I will go from (whilst playing with Everton) to beating Man City 4-0 on Semi Pro to losing 2-1 to QPR on Pro. I’m sure once I start to master the defending this will shrink and I will be able to take on the might of Stoke without much trouble.
Presentation as with all EA Sports games is top notch the characters not only look like the real thing but also act like it, they have the same run, the same mannerisms and even the same trademark celebrations. Andy Grey as you might expect has been replaced by two new teams, one for domestic games one for European games.
Overall : After playing both the Football titles this year FIFA really is streets ahead, as much as it pains this diehard PES fan to say.
The first ten games I was blown away by it but as you get to the latter half of your season the problems start to make a bigger impact on you, while nothing is beyond fixing I just hope the Team patch it rather than wait until next years outing.
It still hasn’t quite shaken off its silly past, relies to heavily on creating that “Sky” moment on the pitch and still has too many tricks for the players to do. The advances in defending while not perfect are very welcome and EA have to be admired for putting it in. Tactical defending, the vision engine all mixed with the real time physics engine really do go a long way to making FIFA the best football title this year.
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