When it comes to my favourite month of the year, I’d have to nominate the months of August and September as contenders. Why you ask? Because it’s during August that the new season of Premier League kicks off, and September is generally when the new FIFA is released. And the $99.95 (or however much you pay for games nowadays) question is – does FIFA 12 include enough improvements to warrant buying? I’ll try and help you answer this question by going through the major additions and improvements.
Probably the most “hyped” new feature is the Player Impact Engine. FIFA 12 has had its physics engine overhauled, and now features a more realistic interaction between players on the pitch. Depending on the type and area of contact, the players will react accordingly. It’s a pretty impressive addition, as it also impacts the types of injuries the players will receive depending on the contact. While it has to be considered the biggest feature, it was something that I hardly noticed. It’s due to the fact that when you’re playing a match, you cast your eyes on the whole field and would rarely notice the small details, but it’s good to know it’s there. And if you want to see a player upended by a slide tackle several different ways, there’s always the instant replay option.
I will mention that I have seen the videos on YouTube of the new engine reacting strangely and causing some strange collisions. Maybe that problem was only on the demo, because the review copy of the game I played had no issues.
My favourite new feature and one that is pretty obvious on the pitch is the Precision Dribbling. The dribbling has now been tightened, so the player has a greater control over the ball. It’s most useful when dribbling near the sideline or in traffic among other players. A gripe I had with last year’s FIFA was that I kept dribbling over the touchline, thanks to a heavy touch from the player. It was annoying. But now with the Precision Dribbling, the player will take smaller touches and allow you to navigate through tough areas. And now in FIFA 12, when the ball does go out and there is a player nearby, they will jog over to the ball, pick it up and set for a throw in. It’s such a small change, but one that is visually obvious and helps with the flow of the game.
FIFA 12 has also implemented new defensive techniques, where the option to pressure players by holding a button has been removed and replaced with the ability to contain the attacker. It probably makes defending slightly harder, but it’s something that I appreciated as it is a more realistic way of defending. You’ll now have to use your positioning to limit the options of the attacker, and use your position to intercept passes. Tackling is also more about timing, as the standing tackle when timed correctly will neatly take the ball away, or if you’re close enough to the attacker you’ll initiate shoulder to shoulder challenges where you push and pull at your opponent. I found the slide tackles to be more efficient than before, and found it a more viable option when defending. Of course, if you time the tackle wrong, you will lose momentum if you were running alongside the opponent or worse get sent off for a nasty slide tackle.
The Career mode also gets a few improvements, especially in the area of player management and transfers. The biggest improvement has to be the ability to stall the signing of a player. This is most useful if you need some time to either make a roster space or obtain extra cash by selling a player. It’s also cool that the A.I controlled teams will make bids on your players even if they aren’t transfer listed, so if you get a too good of an offer, you can sell that player and see if you can sign an even better player with that unexpected cash. There’s also squad reports that includes information about player’s morale’s, which affects the players mood and that may lead to demands of a transfer (much like real life).
The game’s visuals and sound have been improved, as the game looks awesome, especially the players. The players now look more realistic, especially their facial features, which looks softer and more human like. The game also includes 2 new commentary teams, with Martin Tyler returning and teaming up with Alan Smith after Andy Gray was let go after the incident earlier this year. There’s also the option to listen to the commentary team of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend from ITV.
FIFA 12 even includes its own version of social networking with “Football Club”. Here you can compete against friends by trying to earn more XP’s then the other, and also check up on their latest actions in the game. You can even use your XP’s to support your club, so the team moves up the rankings on the Support Your Club League Table. These features are cool, because even if you’re playing a meaningless exhibition match, you’ll still be earning points, which means that the match actually isn’t meaningless.
Virtual Pro returns for another year, and it had a sense of déjà vu, as it hasn’t changed from last year. The challenges needed to improve your pro haven’t changed, so you’ll be re-doing them all over again, which was annoying.
FIFA 12 is a fantastic game which showcases why this series is at the top at the moment. It includes several great additions but no major overhauls from last year, which isn’t a bad thing as FIFA 11 was a superb game. The new additions do improve the game, and if you’re a FIFA nut like me or you haven’t played a FIFA game in awhile, FIFA 12 is definitely a game that I recommend.