We have a lot of conversations behind the scenes about certain franchises being milked and the first title that is always brought up is the FIFA series which has a yearly full release which is sometimes seen as a simple squad update that could have been accomplished via DLC.
So after ploughing hours of my life into FIFA 11 I was given the job of quickly finding out that’s changed in FIFA 12 and doing a quick review on it. That was over 50 hours of gameplay ago and I’m not closer to narrowing it down.
EA made some subtle but brutally important changes for the way you play FIFA 12 and it has honestly changed the game entirely. There has been a lot of complaining online about the new defensive techniques as FIFA 12 now offers tactical defending by default which generally means you need to worry more about your placement and positioning than just hitting B to try and steal the ball away.
Other gameplay changes include the addition of more skill moves and crucially player collision physics as well.
The collision physics adds a nice dose of realism to the game and give us the added enjoyment of being able to completely take someone out with a solid crunching tackle after they’ve skilfully dribbled past you for last time. However at the same time it gets confused at times resulting in your player flying through the air after the smallest of collisions and the hilariously annoying fact that if your collision takes both players down it’s virtually impossible for them to stand up again as they keep colliding and falling over again.
But all in all the new additions are well implemented and have taken the title that one step further forward.
The career mode has been beefed up but maybe not in the best of ways. Players now give you feedback during the mid-game breaks and while that is sometimes useful, for example Gerrard asked me to give him a break as he’s getting tired, it’s also very annoying when some virtually unknown defender starts complaining that he never gets a game and there’s no ability to respond and tell him he’s never going to play.
The transfer system has been beefed up as well with the AI behind the computerised transfers being improved upon. Now every club is given a transfer policy so that the top clubs have the money to splash out on the big name transfers while other clubs will only look for cheap up and coming players and the like. When a larger club sets their sites on one of your players it can start a bidding frenzy which ended in my selling Daniel Agger for 32 million Pounds which enabled me to finally bring David Villa to Liverpool.
Granted he’s not settling in so well but it was a fun experience wheeling and dealing and that’s really why we play games isn’t it?
But for me the most important and annoyingly addictive change that has been made is the inclusion of Head to Head seasons. No longer do we have to play people online in random ranked matches but now there is an incredibly smart division system that has been implemented behind it.
You start in division 10 and then work your way up to be crowned supreme ruler of the world and all it’s colonies. Or that’s what I expect will happen since I’ve not managed to get above the 7th division yet.
Each division lasts for 10 matches and you are given a minimum amount of points required to avoid relegation and then a set number of points to secure promotion. You are then pitted against people in the same division as you with a similar starred team and away you go. Generally I got destroyed online and it’s far more of a challenge than the standard leagues or friendlies that you can play.
It’s a novel way to avoid having to physically put teams into leagues and then hoping that everyone completes their matches which is generally impossible. At the same time it’s nice playing against people who are at a similar level to you and the chance of being thrashed 15-0 becomes remote after you’ve played a division or 2. I’m now securely sitting in the 9th division and have come to the realisation that I am really not very good at FIFA 12 but it’s still one of my favourite games in the collection and is possibly the most played title I currently own.
The rest of the FIFA experience appears to be as it was before, the only other substantial change was the addition of the EA Sports Football Club where you choose which team you want to support and then every time you win your club receives some points and then moves up or down the world league.
I was told it was going to be a large social networks that will link me with my friends and enemies and keep me coming back for more. In reality it’s a waste of time and I can’t remember the last time I checked or cared what it had to say. Maybe in the future it will be improved and made into something special but right now all it’s good for is putting me on a guilt trip that I’m negatively affecting Liverpool’s position on the table with my constant losing.
FIFA 12 may not be miles ahead of FIFA 11 in terms of gameplay but it’s easily the best football game on the market with an intense and well developed gameplay system
Design and Presentation: 8.5/10
While reviewing this title I was twice asked by different people if I was playing or watching a real game. The menu system is clean and well worked but the fact that I need to go through 4-5 screens just to get into a game is very frustrating. EA needs to clear the clutter and give me a “Yes I want to play now with my default team and formation” button.
FIFA 12 will keep any football fan happy for the next 12 months and with the new online Head to Head seasons there is very little chance you will get bored or require any greater challenge.
If you have FIFA 11 you don’t need FIFA 12 but you also won’t be disappointed if you upgrade. The Head to Head seasons alone are worth the price of entry and throw in the squad upgrades, new dribbling and defending abilities along with the collision engine and you’ve got yourself a very good game indeed.
I’m sure the pro’s will be able to say exactly what’s wrong with the FIFA gameplay but I’d recommend FIFA over it’s competitor any day of the week. FIFA 12 is the premier footballing experience.[Reviewed on the Xbox 360]
Last Updated: November 14, 2011