The uber-successful FIFA series returns with a new star gracing its covers. Jack Wilshere, joins Wayne Rooney on the cover, although this can be changed to suit fans’ favourite sides, meaning that Derby stars Shaun Barker, Steve Davies and Frankie Fielding currently are plastered on the front of my box!
Onto the game itself then. Over the last few years, FIFA has gradually taken the status of ‘best footy game’ from Pro Evo Soccer (PES), with its constant new innovations, meaning that every year, there is the most subtlest of differences in the ever-so simple gameplay. Some complain that EA, the publishers, take advantage of those ‘suckers’ who buy the game every year despite it being pratically the same game. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I am one of these ‘suckers’. Personally, I think it’s worth the cash, never £40’s worth (I only paid a tenner this year!) but it’s worth the yearly upgrade in my humble opinion.
A new major change is the social side to FIFA 12. At the very start, the player is asked to imput their favourite team and is told that with virtually every task they perform within the game, they will recieve ‘XP’. This is to level up their own user, and also add XP to their own club in a league table format. It gives much more of a purpose to the game, if the player knows he is helping his hometown club over the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, two of the best supported clubs in the country, half of whos’s fans don’t even live in the city! Aswell as this, new leaderboards have been added to create a much more comptetive user interface. It’s nice to see how your mates are getting on, and also to laugh at them continuing a major losing streak.
This year the changes in gameplay are the Impact Engine, Tactical Defending and Precision Dribbling. The Impact Engine is implemented to try and make the game that little bit more realistic, as it aims to provide more accurate moments of collisions between players. The way players collide in challenges, mean that as a result of a particular collision, an injury could occur and force the player into a substitution. It’s being hailed as a ‘gamechanger’, although, personally, during my time with the game, I haven’t noticed any huge improvements, sure there are a lot more body-checks, than previously before, but nothing too evoloutionary.
Tactical Defending aims to put more of a skill back into defending, rather than endlessly mashing buttons, as in previous iterations, players must now time their tackles to perfection in order to tackle a slaloming Lionel Messi. It’s divided many of the FIFA players I personally know, but I think it’s nice for a change, as it does require more skill to be able to pull off challenges. Precision dribbling enables the likes of Messi, Ozil and Nani to take charge of games, and go on sometimes unstoppable runs. Skills are also much more prevalent in the game, and really can make a difference in a tight match. The use of dribbling and skills is much more noticable, skills being harder to pull off at the right times, and dribbling being a lot easier, all with the correct players of course, John Terry is never going to go on an unbeatable 70-yard run, don’t worry.
Onto the game modes. Online is where I spend the majority of my time on any FIFA title and 12′ is no different. The ‘head-to-head’ section has been altered to create a Seasons mode. It’s a nice update, and puts a lot more meaning on these online games versus strangers. Seasons consist of 10 games, and the player can be promoted or relegated into various divisions ‘Division 10’, ‘Division 9’ etc. Unfortunately, draws actually stay as draws, rather than progressing onto extra time and penalties, as in older titles, but the points actually mean something now which is great. Another improvement is that teams are drawn together to play each other based on their ‘star’ rating, meaning that their are going to be no more Accrington Stanley wins over Real Madrid anymore, perhaps a shame for some, but I for one don’t mind! The ‘online friendlies’ are where friends can take part, and there is a good feature that allows the record between two players to be shown simply by going over someone’s name. The improvements to the menus of FIFA make it a lot more user-friendly that’s for sure.
Ultimate team is present straight from the get-go on the disc, which is nice to have, as it is very different in terms of creating your own team, top trumps style. Career mode is as deep as ever, allowing much more interaction between manager and player. It’s interesting to see as the Career mode becomes more ‘Football Manager-lite’ than ever, never being as deep as ‘FM’, but being certainly a big addition to what already is quite a huge game, proving its value, more than ever.
I’ve heard mixed opinions from my friends on the game, some complaining about the defending, some the ‘slow passing’, some about over-powered players. However, the game may at times, suffer from issues like this, but it’s the same for everyone regardless, plus it’s all new additions to gameplay that take time to be able to master properly. I mean, it hasn’t just become the biggest selling sports game ever, 3.2 million sales in a week, for no reason, it must have something ‘decent’ about it. In my opinion, FIFA 12 is the definitive football game out now, and based on what I’ve played in the PES demo, it isn’t going to be beaten anytime soon!