FIFA 12 (PS3)
In life there are many great rivalries Ali vs. Foreman, the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones, Ben & Jerry's vs. Häagen-Dazs (ok, that last one might just be me). In the realm of console football (or soccer if you live in the US) games it's FIFA vs. PES.
Today we'll be taking a look at the most recent FIFA game release by Electronic Arts, FIFA 12. It's been a few months since FIFA 12 came out however in the January sales it may well be on the wish list for some with money burning a hole in their pocket.
FIFA 12 is the nineteenth release in the incredibly successful series, which in itself is quite an achievement. The original FIFA game was released almost 20 years ago (mid 1993) and the fact that the game continues to evolve and be enhanced highlights its massive popularity.
Just in case anyone isn't familiar with the series, FIFA 12 is a football video game available on multiple platforms such as Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC (Windows & Mac). It offers solo and online modes as well as a career mode.
FIFA 12 offers us the chance to play with teams from 29 leagues from 22 countries. One of the great aspects about the FIFA series is that it's a fully licensed game, so that we get the proper team and player names and don't have to wonder which team North London refers to in the real world.
Electronic Arts have made a number of major gameplay enhancements to FIFA 12, including the Impact Engine, Tactical Defending and Precision Dribbling.
The impact engine has been under development by EA for a couple of years and is designed to improve the variety of collision animation, accuracy and attempts to preserve any momentum of the players involved. The impact engine is one of the biggest changes EA have made to the FIFA series in sometime, and is seen as a game changer. Having played FIFA 11 we can certainly see the difference the impact engine makes to gameplay, making FIFA 12 much less predictable and feel far more organic. The impact engine also manages collisions between players without the ball, and effects how injuries are sustained by players during a match.
The tactical defending system takes defending in FIFA 12 to a whole new level by changing the approach players need to take to defending in game. Equal importance is now placed on positioning of players, and intercepting passes instead of just being solely focused on making tackles. Defenders will now look to usher players into areas of the pitch that make them less dangerous, slowing them down and containing them until they make a mistake. The old style of defending, now referred to as legacy defending, can still be used in offline games and online friendly or unranked matches.
Precision dribbling in FIFA 12 allows us to have much better control of the ball, and to be able to shield the ball even while still moving. No longer are we rooted to the spot if we want to hold players off, now we can do it while moving to a better position. EA have also added close control skills, allowing us to take smaller more frequent touches of the ball, very useful when we find ourselves near the byline.
FIFA 12 also includes a much improved artificial intelligence system called Pro Player Intelligence. This system makes AI-controlled players react much more realistically to the skills and capabilities of their opponents and teammates. So if we are playing a team that has a striker that is strong in the air then we can expect lots of crosses into our box to defend.
As with other recent previous FIFA games FIFA 12 offers both a career mode and online play. The career mode allows us to take a player, either outfield or goalkeeper from the low leagues to the biggest clubs in the world.
Online play in FIFA 12 has a plethora of options wrapped up in the new EA Sports Football Club. This new feature offers somewhat of a social network experience within FIFA 12, allowing us to track friends and gain experience.
In FIFA 12, Electronic Arts have taken the opportunity to refresh the presentation on the front end of the game. The familiar vertical menus have been replaced by a side-scrolling menu bar system. The new layout works well, but those familiar with the FIFA series might be a bit confused for a while until they become used to the new layout.
As per usual the player models in FIFA 12 are very good, and it's very easy to identify the more popular professional football players from their in game models. The animation on the models is also very good, and with FIFA 12 EA has added a couple of new celebration animations, which is always something to look out for.
The stadium environments are very well rendered and look really good. The environmental effects, such as rain, snow or wind, as well as the time of day the match is set are also very well rendered in game.
The presentation of the matches themselves has also been updated, with the pre-match information presented in a more televisual style and a new default camera angle.
Depending on your view, commentary is either a great thing or a terrible distraction from gameplay. We love it, and for the first time FIFA 12 offers us a choice of two broadcast teams. Sky Sports Martin Tyler returns as the main commentator alongside Alan Smith. Smith replaces Andy Gray, who has featured in previous FIFA games however following some rather unfortunate comments caught on mic was dismissed by Sky Sports last year.
Joining them is the ITV commentary team of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend. Best known for their TV commentary of ITVs coverage of the Champions League Clive and Andy provide commentary for any tournament games we play in FIFA 12. There is also an option to set Clive and Andy as the default commentary team, if we prefer them to Martin and Alan.
The in match audio, commentary aside, is as good as ever. All the appropriate oohs and ahhs are made from the attendant crowd at the right times, as well as the usual football chants.
FIFA 12 also continues the use of random music played during our navigation of the in game menus.
FIFA 12 is an excellent football video game and includes some major changes over the last iteration of the series. Having played FIFA 12 and previous versions we can say that it does play differently and feels like much more organic experience.
The new features certainly have an impact on gameplay, and those familiar with the old style of FIFA will go through a period of adjustment to become used to the new way of play. However this keeps the game fresh and we thoroughly enjoyed the new style of play, especially the new tactical defending system. 93/100