EA Sports, is well known and critically loved for their sports games. From Madden to NHL to Fight Night and the recently released NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, EA Sports is probably the biggest dog on the playground. Now, we have the latest entry in their highly lauded FIFA franchise, based upon the most popular sport in the world. Does it live up to the EA Sports pedigree?
In a word (okay, well, six words): FIFA 12 is a GREAT game! There I said it! Without a doubt EA Canada really made soccer (or football, depending on which country you’re in) into a very accessible experience for everyone, even the non-fan. Let’s face it, learning a new sport is like learning a new language (well...for me it is). Things begin with a tutorial, where they introduce defensive maneuvers and teach you all the necessary controls that you will need to be successful on the pitch. Many improvements were made on the gameplay, including Tactical Defending and Precision Dribbling. Tactical Defending is such a big step that it even has its own tutorial all to itself. Essentially, it changes how players defend, putting more emphasis on slowing enemies rather than running head on and hoping that the ball gets to your teammates. Everything new is presented right at the beginning of the game, which helps everyone get into the FIFA 12 groove immediately.
Everything is much tighter this time around, and every move you make is much more precise. The kicks, the passes, the goals and blocks all feel authentic. In fact, it draws you in so much that each time the ball hits the net, you can’t help but want to just jump up and cheer. The new thing about FIFA 12 is EA’s implementation of the “Impact Engine”, where it improves collision variety, accuracy, and momentum preservation. This makes the game more authentic and adds a new degree of realism to it. Even if you don’t play and let the AI control the match, i.e. just watch as a spectator, it feels like you are watching a real game.
FIFA 12 features many modes to choose from. The Career mode is broken down further into either a player, player manager or team manager mode of play. Essentially, all three feel the same, but I chose to be a player just so that I can create and play with my own team. Within the Player mode, you simply edit and create your player. While within the Player Manager mode, you are introduced to player transfers and offers - where you are mailed offers by other teams who want your players - and you can still play the game, just like the Player Mode. Lastly is Team Manager, which is A LOT like Player Manager. The only thing different is you are in charge of even more managerial duties, such as buying other players from other teams, changing squads, formations tactics etc.. You can roll through an entire season via simulation if you choose, but simulation is a bit of a drag because you can’t skip ahead to your games. You have to wait for every day to simulate through until your game day comes. You can literally sink in hundreds of hours in the career mode by itself.
Other modes, aside from Career, include the Be-A-Pro mode, where you can be one player in a team and play exhibition matches, and you can also be a goalkeeper. The soccer fans will be pleased to see all of the teams available, from United States MLS, Brazil’s Ligo de Brasil, Denmark’s Superliga, Italy’s Serie A and Serie B and Spain’s Liga BBVA and Liga Adelante. It should prove satisfactory for any soccer fanatic. The teams are up to date with the latest player rosters. You can also create your own team, and customize other teams as well.
Enemy AI has been improved from the previous versions of FIFA, making more intelligent decisions and bumping up the challenge quite a bit. It will make you work your cleats off for just one goal. When you pass a ball, enemies will try to intercept, and when you shoot, goalkeepers put it all on the line to prevent you from scoring. Even the defensive choices that the AI players make has improved. Many times, you will feel as if your only choice is to kick the ball, even if your in the middle of the field. The AI puts it all on the line, trying to get the ball from you and score, just as a real life team would. Naturally, which ever difficulty you pick will factor in, and yes there is a big difference between Amateur and Legendary. Semi-Pro, its fairly normal, but when you set it to Pro, it gets tough, while setting it to legendary is virtually impossible for anyone other than the uber elite.
The Multiplayer options are decent, allowing for the creation of your own team and pitting them against others online. You can play in play Cup matches, which are needed to advance in a Tournament Tree, playing through until reach the Cup. Also available are Season matches, where you have 10 Divisions with 10 games per Season, and you try to advance from Division 1 to 10. The servers were a little laggy, but it was very easy to find people to play with. Hit the play button, and it will search for people in your Division. This will make new comers to the franchise feel welcomed. Like any other EA Sports title these days, an Online Pass is required for online play, so those of you looking to nab this used may want to take heed that an additional purchase will be required.
EA Sports also launched EA Sports Football Club, which is like a social network of sorts for FIFA fans. You can track other players standings, and see how well you stack up against them this season. When you play a game, it registers there, and when you lose a game, sadly it also registers as well. It’s a way keeping track of your standings and every achievement you made and want to make, when your away from home. Best of all, it’s completely free! But you have to have a copy of FIFA 12 to enjoy it. We are seeing some companies establishing web services to compliment their retail products (such as Activision and Call of Duty Elite), so that they can show off their skills, goals and achievements online, and in a community.
When compared to other soccer titles on the market, FIFA 12 looks really good. Everything, from the environments to the player models, look nice and crisp.The shadows, player movements and ball handling really sets it a part from all the rest. Even the stadiums look wonderful, the level detail, the lighting, and even the people in the cheap seats look good. I did some comparisons and the stadiums look just like their real life counterparts. There are some points where the crowd does feel as if they are on an animated loop, but that doesn’t happen too often and only noticeable with a discerning eye, so you don’t feel that sense of being watched by crowd robots. The weather effects are present and accounted for, when it rains it looks dark and wet (you’ll even notice the clouds!). One knock, if you want to call it that, against the presentation is that there really isn’t a big difference between FIFA 11 and FIFA 12. While everything does look good and crisp, it hasn’t really changed from last year. There isn’t much difference in the players, the hair still looks painted, although the uniforms do look good. Ultimately, these are just minor gripes as it does not affect how the game feels and plays, compared to FIFA 11. The commentary sounds great - Martin Tyler and Alan Smith are the default commentators - and it also supports swapping off to different languages, with different commentators. The guys on the mic offer intelligent insights on the game, and feel realistic.
FIFA 12 is solid a successor to FIFA 11. Aside from the familiar graphics, there are a lot of gameplay changes on tap here that will please fans, especially with how precise the controls have become. As far as I’m concerned, FIFA 12 is among the best sports games I have ever played. This game sets the bar for ANY soccer game. There are loads of things to do, from the career mode to the expansive multiplayer. Kudos to EA for once again reminding us why their FIFA franchise is the best on the market.
Release date : 2011-09-27
Publisher : EA Sports
Developer : EA Canada
Gameplay : Sports
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