Review: FIFA 12

YOU ARE THE 12TH MAN

Developer: EA Canada
Genre: Soccer
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Compatability (PS3): 30MB Mininum Space | HD 480p / 720p | Online Multiplayer 2-22
Compatability (Xbox 360): HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-16 | System Link 2
Rating: 8.8

At the heartbeat of any analysis regarding the current top football video game, there will always be the notion of a generation defining physics engine. No matter how hard either franchise, Pro Evolution Soccer & FIFA, has tried in the past to add little shameless add-ons to a game, it will always bore down to a successful simulation playing off against a playable and enjoyable video game. Along with this idea would be the need to create a great balance both in attack and defence, then tweak or tighten certain aspects. So then the argument would always arise; why should gamers pay £40 twelve months later only to see the gleaming new sponsor that famous Accrington Stanley away shirt and Adidas’ new F346750 football boot? Although the other argument would state that radically changing a playing style of a game could see prospective buyers running for the hills in terror or throwing their children through the TV in all out FIFA rage. Well here then is EA sports latest rendition.

Most of the attacking elements in FIFA 12 remain similar although slightly refined; the main focus comes from the age old skill of defending. Remember the days when it was so easy just to hold down a button to hone in on an opponent like a scud missile, whilst simultaneously conjuring your next counter attack to its most intricate detail, not anymore. With FIFA 12 comes a whole new way of nipping attacks in the bud with ‘tactical defending’, the sole addition that becomes the base for most of your success and indeed early on, failure and frustration like no other. Added to the ‘Holy Trinity’ of development improvements comes two new features which have been several years in production; the player impact engine and precision dribbling. But firstly the defending aspect, which most would agree, will at first leave you more frustrated than Mario Balotelli’s landlord. Learning the new tactical defending will come primarily from a lot of patience and practice against the computer, just like a leaky defence that just conceded two quick goals, if you go chasing the ball; you will get taken apart piece by piece. FIFA 12 tries to introduce structure and shape to a defence, making sure you only need step in to make a tackle when necessary. Just be safe in the knowledge that this new system works beautifully but is still in its infancy, as is the sometimes hilarious player impact system; now each bone crunching tackle or indeed aerial challenge will be unique thanks to this new design. It can sometimes be as infuriating as the tactical defending, when teammates collide with each other leaving a gaping chasm in your defence for the attackers to stroll through. These are all works in progress but add to an already maturing game. Coupled with this is the pro passing system which makes some through balls seem like poetry at times and the importance on player attributes. Before there was little differentiation on player models, if a player was good enough then he would ultimately excel in most areas, only the most basic functions would let that player down. Whereas now a player like Fernando Llorente, who would be your typical target striker, relies on balls to his feet and being able to hold the ball up, flick long passes on with his head and win crosses with his head in attacking areas. Try to play balls in front of him and try using skill to turn defenders and more often than not you will come unstuck. This goes for most players who specialise in certain areas of the pitch, a feature that was promised in the previous game has finally come to fruition.

Fernandoh: Even a shaky Arsenal back four stands back and lets Torres embarrass himself in front of goal yet again.

Finally, a respectable managerial career has been re-established within the game. Since FIFA 09 the user has had to contend with fairly under par scope and longevity. Although not all of the aspects from the older career mode have been implemented, new aspects have been introduced. Again, pick your team and board difficulty, at least this time if you try to test yourself with a stern board the targets will be realistic and reflect in your performance. Unlike FIFA 11 where a career set on legendary board, even if you won the quadruple and scored three hundred and fifty two goals, a sacking would be inevitable, if you were lucky to get that far. Surely Roman Abramovich doesn’t own every team on FIFA. Scouts have been re-introduced, which benefits the lower clubs who cannot afford silly wages and signing fees, a star rating from a variety of scouts dictates how successful your pursuits into different areas will be. Once a player has been spotted you will need a few months to gauge whether they will make it. You will be able to compile a youth squad on this basis and then have to choose to sign or drop a flourishing prospect. Again this would be much more beneficial to a smaller team to able to have your youngsters grow.

Player power is all too relevant in modern day football, what with the like of Wiggy Rooney and Carlos ‘there’s nothing in Manchester’ Tevez around. This has been implemented wonderfully into this new edition of career mode. You will have to balance your squad and match your player’s ambitions on playing and silverware throughout the season. Many a player will come to you and discuss a certain aspect of his happiness or fitness; this can also be checked on the squad report option. As many a Manchester United manager will find, my Rooney will usually want away from Old Trafford, reflecting his real life issues. In some cases, offering the player more money many have the desired effect, but if the board can sometimes rule with an iron fist and sell your starlet behind your back, the ruddy swines. It is about time an emphasis has been put into rotating and utilising a healthy squad. There is still definite scope needed to improve this format and other fundamental aspects of career mode, like basic improvements to a stadium, especially if a player wants to start with their local club (AFC Wimbledon etc) and build them up into an unstoppable ‘franchise’, changing their ‘shed’ into a cauldron of dreams. Or even pre-season interactive a pre-designed training, breaking up the utterly pointless and instant simulated pre-season friendlies. None the less, a much needed update from the last time out and one which will keep the player occupied for a good few seasons.

Who’s the scouser in the wig? Again FIFA’s attention to aesthetical detail is quite stunning, facial features and player reactions are much improved, even this cheeky swine’s hair transplant. There’s 30k well spent then ...

Online modes have again been revamped. A much more user friendly league format has been introduced, with ten divisions and ten games per season. With the same point format as any league, the challenge is to climb up each division by attaining a set amount of points to either get promoted or hang on for another season. The bar is also levelled when you select your team; chose a 3 star team and you will only play against someone of the same level. These changes bring around a relevant, competitive edge. Friendly games amongst Xbox Live pals are now quantified in a mini league format. With EA Sports Area, players can also organise with companies to play for money and prizes by registering through Virgin Gaming as well. All of these aspects were again a much needed update to a section of the game that was beginning to lose touch with gamers. This has introduced a new format with a gradient of difficulty that wouldn’t terrify people new to the online football experience. Ultimate returns again to both offline and online, although again it is very hard to maintain a level of objectivity to a mode that rewards the player for spending Microsoft points in order to progress quicker, to the point that many achievements are based around the ultimate team mode in FIFA 12, in order to entice you further down the MS point rabbit hole, an all too familiar trend with EA Sports and frankly, quite disappointing. Like any top trumps game, your quest is to buy pack of cards and try to attain the perfect squad and pit your wits in another league format against CPU or players appointments. A fresh relief to the usual format but restricted to the amount the player plays and pays.

It cannot be stressed enough how FIFA 12’s design team have taken a brave and giant leap, no doubt turning some people away from the manual side of ‘tactical defending’, yet if this step was not taken it would just be another football simulation, slightly tightened and dusted. It ultimately brings around a feeling that was never relevant in football games before, that feeling of satisfaction when perfectly executing a standing or sliding tackle, arguably as much as scoring a goal. This brings around fantastic and fresh competitions between friends, and easily the most horrifically frustrating feeling when you first step out against the evil CPU opponents. Game modes, especially the career mode have had a much needed tweak of depth. Certain marquee players attributes have been refined enough to differentiate them from one another, adding a great level of depth and personality to teams playing styles. It only states to reaffirm FIFA as chief in the pursuit for sports video games greatness. With the gap now widened further by an ever dwindling Pro Evolution Soccer series, the only fear now would be complacency from future developments. Yet with a firm base to improve on, FIFA 12 and its future heirs are going to be a tough monarchy to dethrone.

Reviewed by andrewhunter316 – December 3, 2011

Graphics
With FIFA 12’s new physics engine, this is the best looking FIFA game. Visual detail is quite stunning, facial features and player reactions are much improved from its predecessors.
 
Sound
The usual sound effects, just right. Commentary is awesome.
 
Fun
You may be shocked and surprised with FIFA 12’s innovations, but once you get the hang of it, you will be scoring goals for a very long time.
 
Final Score

 

Responses

  1. A very good review. I like the fact you keep your own colours hidden for impartiality. I have to disagree with you on your Ultimate Team analysis however. Fair enough ms points are the way to build your team quickly, but the varied competitions and entry requirements make it a refreshing challenge. Anyone can win with a top team but can you build a team of bronze players from the lower leagues that can still compete. And for me the excitement of opening your packs if cards is exhilarating. (I am a obsessive collector though).

  2. I find the game utterly frustrating! Imagine, a commentary team of Mark Bright, David Pleat and Chris Waddle and thats what level of frustration we’re talking. That may, largely, be down to my complete inability to defend. How else would Victor Moses be scoring a wonder goal, after a mazy 50yrd run? Far too many high scoring draws in my season! However, it is a beautiful looking game and the need to score the perfect goal keeps me picking up the pad time and time again.

    ps Well written review as per usual.

  3. The best football sim ever. Fifa is getting more realistic in every edition. Very good review.

  4. Great review Andrew for a great game

  5. EA Sports are really doing a great job with FIFA. Each year they add really cool stuff like for example this year the online seasons are really amazing! Best football sim so far! Nice review andrew! Great Job!

  6. What will put most of todays ADD generation off is that you have to be alert for every second of every match. Fiddle with Facebook on your mobile, or drift off into a sticky-trousers dream about Janey from work for just a second and you will concede. I can imagine this alienating 80% of todays messed up people.

    The career mode still has an odd way of passing over all of your success – with a distinct lack of achievements on offer. Surely winning the treble on Proffessional setting is worthy of a pat on the back!? A virtual trophy cabinet would also make it a bit more encouraging to stick with the same career mode rather than loading up a new one after the 3rd season.

    But the biggest frustration is still the AI spikes which can turn players who have day jobs in a Bolton chippy suddenly taking on the whole of a Premiership defense and setting themselves up for an overhead Scorpian Kick. But this will always be a payoff of FIFA being a videogame.

  7. Great game. As much as I think it can be quite unforgiving at times, the reviewer is right about the delight of executing a perfect move. I like the changes to career mode and improved graphics and as difficult as the tactical defending can be to master it feels more natural: tracking the man and timing your tackle.

    I am disappointed by the lack of career related achievements! As the person above commented – is the treble not a worthy achievement in EA’s piggy little eyes?

    Good review; I’m looking forward to seeing what else it has to offer.


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