Sep 28, 2011

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FIFA 12 Review

FIFA 12 Review

FIFA is EA Sports’ most popular franchise. Though we in the States look at Madden as the flagship title, FIFA is the new worldwide king, and there’s a good reason why. Every year fans are rewarded with a title that always improves on the previous year, and FIFA 12 is no exception. This year’s title brings much improved AI, which makes it the toughest FIFA game to date, a new physics engine, revamped online modes, more precise dribbling, and new defensive controls. Veterans of the franchise will have to change the way they play the game, but once you get used to everything you’ll realize it’s one of the best FIFA titles you’ve ever played.

The initial shock that will come when booting up the game is the new defensive mechanics/controls. Gone are the days where you could simply double team a player or rush at them to take the ball away. Now you’ll have to position yourself to make a tackle or intercept the ball. Making it a bit harder is the new tackle button. Hitting the circle/B will cause your player to make a standing tackle. The last few years you could just hit one button and rush at the player, but now you have to get in position and time the tackle. There are few things that will help ease you into this new mechanic. Your teammates are a bit smarter on defense this year, so they will often be in better positions. Also helping you are improved jokey/strafing mechanics. Check out this defensive tutorial for a more in-depth look at the mechanics:

What this new “Tactical Defending,” as EA puts it, brings to the title is a much more realistic defensive game. While you are learning the controls you might end up giving away a few cheap goals here and there, but you’ll just have to get used to playing a bit less aggressive on defense. However, the new tackling system will definitely frustrate some fans from time to time even after getting used to the mechanic. This is because the player will lunge at the ball even in cases where a simple jab will take the ball away. If a player happens to get past you, you can hit the tackle button to jostle or slow them down by pulling on their jersey. This happens constantly in real life, and a lot of times it ends up in fouls; however, in this game you won’t get penalized too much for using it. Still,  every now and then it will result your player being carded.

The improvements made to the Defensive AI might change the pace of the game, but only slightly. Not only do you now have to change the way you play on defense, but on offense you must adjust how you attack as well. The same attacks might work on lower difficulties, but once you amp up the difficulty, the AI gets much smarter and will be better at intercepting passes or anticipating through balls. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to score, this just means you have to think of more realistic ways of attacking. Helping you on offense is improved dribbling. EA has been working on improving dribbling mechanics every year, and every year it gets better and better. In FIFA 12 you have even more control over the ball. You can use close dribble touches in close quarters or on the wing, and the difference in control between the players is even more apparent this year.

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Everything comes together thanks to the new Player Impact Engine. This new physics engine has been talked up all year, and has been in development for two years. This engine adds to the realism of the game with more realistic animations and collisions between players. There are moments where a player will be able to recover quickly from light challenges, rather than stumbling forward uncontrollably like last year, and the challenges for the ball–whether it’s in the air or on the ground–are much more physical and realistic. Harsh collisions look harsh in the game, and the weaker challenges don’t faze the player even if they are on the ball. Injuries also occur more realistically thanks to the new engine, which takes into account the contact between players. While the engine can cause some ridiculous animations, those are few and far between, contrary to what many people saw in the demo.