Reviewer: Soroush Smith
Release Date: 2011-09-27
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Wed 19 Oct 11
Each year since 1993 EA has released a FIFA video game with the year moniker attached to it and each year they manage to push the boundaries of graphics and gameplay. This year FIFA 12 is no exception with the introduction of the Player Impact Engine, built to deliver real world player physics to the playing field, as well as Tactical Defending, and Precision Dribbling.
The addition of the new Player Impact Engine has brought new life to FIFA 12. Subtle changes like the faces are never perfect but they seem to at least get the facial expressions to fit the situation. Even though the crowd still has that 90's 2D look, no one really has the time to pay any attention to it anyways. Of course, what is really boosted in this game is the physics engine which is something that really makes the animations of the game come to life. Compared to the previous versions where you have players phasing through each other, and sometimes the ball would go through the fingers of the keeper, the new engine corrects that and every bit of touch is registered which can effect a player’s position on the ball. The physics engine is a new push towards the new generation of FIFA games with the added realism, but it still has its bugs. At times it seems as if sometimes the feet are ignored, and the ball will occasionally pass through the player’s feet. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be a game changer on both sides of the field. Another bug, though a more comedic one, is that sometimes when your player is tackled, instead of falling, he'll do some weird whirlwind spinning move and then pass out on the ground. This may not change the game, but instead of your player just stumbling and returning to play, about 5 seconds is lost, because of this fiasco. If you aren't too purist, these faults can be easily ignored, but it can still change the game flow.
When it comes to sound, well the sound never seems to change to be honest. It's always the same, kicking, passing, and crowds cheering. What has changed from year to year is the commentary with more jokes, quotes or expressions of excitement being added; this year more than 10,000 fresh commentary lines have been added keeping the game sounds fresh. A second English broadcast team has been added with broadcaster and former England forward Alan Smith joining long-time commentator Martin Tyler as the primary voices. Rounding out the commentary is Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend who call the tournament matches although you have the option of choosing your preferred commentator for any game. The commentary is pretty dynamic, given the new "Head to Head Seasons"; if you haven't been winning too many games then they could make a statement about how you may not win the game you are currently playing, based on your current form.
The depth of player engagement is what makes this game special. There's so many features to play, ranging from creating a virtual pro to playing in EA cup seasons, with all the old features in addition to the new head to head seasons, allowing you to show your dominance and prove to your friends who's really the pro player. An all new Career Mode has been added which takes storylines from the real world and integrates them into the game affecting the outcome of matches. The online game mode for FIFA 12 has seen major changes with the addition of ‘Head to Head Seasons’ which balances out the ranked quick matches. This innovation more focuses on your own gameplay allowing for easier promotion through the divisions although the thresholds get harder as you get closed to Division 1. The matchup procedure is also greatly improved and now you pick your club, kit and lineup changes first before searching, allowing you to find a closer matched opponent.The second and third major gameplay change that has been implemented in FIFA 12 are Precision Dribbling and Tactical Defending. Precision Dribbling will give you a better touch on the ball for a better feeling of handling and more control of the game overall. The precision dribbling also helps on making split second moves through players or even keep the ball away long enough for a give and go. Tactical Defending has been vastly improved as you will see when the defenders actually position themselves correctly and move to intercept the ball more accurately. The AI defense now actually attempts to block shots, and is quite successful at times, which is much better than them just standing and watching the ball like before. Perhaps it may be built into the game but there are still times that the defenders tend to ball watch as usual, and sometimes they don't even mark the correct players, which can allow your opponent to have an open shot. making the defensive play a lot more interactive. There's no more holding thing B button and waiting until the AI gets the ball, you actually have to tackle the ball yourself or you can use RB to mark the player with the ball while you mark another player, though occasionally the AI will steal the ball for you without any help.
Rounding out the improvements are innovations to the artificial intelligence system called Pro Player Intelligence which seeks to match the interaction between the players on the field depending on their position, abilities and skills. The players will utilize their own strengths and take advantage of opposing player's weakness while interacting with the team as a whole depending on their teammates. In other word, Kaka will use his amazing dribbling skills like Kaka in real life and Ibrahimovic will strike the ball like only Ibrahimovic can do in real life.
Although EA seems to never fix some old problems that have always lingered in FIFA, the game always ends up being an amazing experience that is worth every penny you spend on it. There is no other sports game that can give you as much joy as defeating your friends or opponents and, what really makes this game separate from the others, is its unique ability to make you jump up and celebrate for every goal you score or get angry for every missed opportunity or game you lose.
GameTestLab received a copy of this game from EA for review purposes.