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E3 Coverage 2011 : FIFA 12

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To tell you the truth, FIFA and I aren’t the best of friends. From the first time I picked up FIFA 9 I just haven’t seen eye to eye with EA Sports. But don’t get me wrong, it isn’t because I am not into soccer, quite the contrary. I am a huge Chelsea fan and I never miss a game. So why don’t I like FIFA? Cause I down-right suck at it! Put a controller in my hand with FIFA on the other end and I have more chance of kicking the ball into my own goal than getting it past the half way line.

This then leaves the question begging; why was I the one covering it at E3? Well, FIFA 12 has said to be the game that anyone can pick up and play. The game first time players will love and the more experienced player will battle to master. So, after picking up my exclusive VIP EA media badge and cutting to the front of huge line of nerds all giving me gazer-beams, I sat down to see firsthand just what FIFA 12 can do.

All of you probably already know the biggest changes to this year’s FIFA. If you don’t, check out the above closed room video (that incidentally got leaked) that shows off all the new features. So instead of running over the basic premise of FIFA, I am rather going to focus on the changes EA have brought to the table in FIFA 12.

One of the biggest changes that seems to flow into all the features I am about to mention, has been the way players interact with each-other. Instead of the light, unrealistic PhysX we are used to from past FIFA titles, FIFA 12 now gives new life to the players in the form of mass. It sounds strange but bare with me here.

It may not seem like a big deal but for any FIFA fan, having a player put his arm through another player’s chest when he turns to tackle a ball that was nowhere near his feet in the first place can get a bit irritating at times. This was a huge factor for the fans and I pleased to say that EA has delivered in a big way.

Now players bump into each-other with force and as the controller vibrates, you get the sense of really being involved in the games. Now a tackle feels like a tackle and an illegal shove off the ball makes you cringe at the chance of a red. This is a crowning achievement for EA and a big step forward for FIFA and sports games alike.

The first big change is the new Tactical Defending system. This includes everything you would expect from a FIFA title but with a few extras thrown in for good measure. These include containing the player and running back to ensure your body is always facing the ball. Pushing and pulling the opposition off the ball and of course, the goal saving tackle.

Precision Dribbling goes hand in hand with the defending system, as now players have far more control over the ball. Changing direction has never been more fluid and it is all done at a incredible speed.

As I said above, the biggest change to FIFA 12 is the all new Player Impact Engine. Not only does this give the players mass, but it also determines the way the players move and most importantly get injured. Tackle a opponent and see him take the most realistic dive amalgamating in a true sense of physicality.

I can’t talk about FIFA 12 without bringing up the newest online feature, the Online World of FIFA. Finally fans will be able to import, track and rank their stats against other players from around the world. This is complimented with a mode that allows players supporting the same club to log in, update their stats and contribute into a giant XP pool that is constantly updated depending on how well the community is doing. Win a game for your side and XP is added into the pool.

Every week those XP points are divided between the community and can be used on player upgrades, new kits, buying new players and more. So for the first time, your actions on the pitch directly affect how your side is doing on a much larger scale.

Online World of FIFA has a lot of potential to take the game to the next level of interaction and community awareness. It is a great addition to the FIFA universe and one that has a lot of potential to grow.

On the flip side, while I was impressed by what I saw the other media in the room raised a lot of additional features the fans have been asking for but for some reason EA seems to be ignoring.

The realism factor: Hair movements, loose jerseys, player expressions, players warming up on the side lines.
World of FIFA additional options: Players should be able to transfer and sell players online to the opposition.
Build a Stadium mode: Choose the capacity of the stadium, where you are playing and the general shape of the stands.

Unlike my Rugby World Cup 2011 meeting, I asked a few questions on FIFA 12 that were never going to get answered. So in terms of the official commentators, stadiums and teams – besides the obvious, your guess is as good as mine.

Last Updated: June 14, 2011

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