FIFA 12 Review
The game has changed. Well the game is the same, it’s soccer, but EA is overhauling physics across the board this year. FIFA 12 is no exception to this and, as with their efforts on their other sports titles this year, most of FIFA 12′s updates are to the underlying systems. What does this mean for you armchair strikers? Well, this year you’re getting not only the most realistic soccer game yet, but one of the most authentic experiences in a sports game, period.
There are a ton of game modes in FIFA 12 so I suggest starting with creating your Virtual Pro. Create an on-pitch version of yourself, set your appearance, style of play and a number of other details that set your footballer apart from the rest. As you compete in the game’s many modes your Virtual Pro will be earning experience toward his stats. You can jump straight into the action with the Be A Pro mode, in which you’ll simply choose which two teams are participating in the match, with the camera following your Virtual Pro. Or you can tackle the Career mode in which you place your Pro on the team of your choice and compete in league play.
The Career mode is very deep, as usual, and you can choose to run it as a Manager, Player or Player Manager. I would recommend Player Manager as you have full control and get to play in the matches, but those who want a more focused or realistic experience may want to choose one of the other modes. From hiring scouts to develop your Youth Program to hiring and firing players, Career Mode has it all. Amongst all this, you will also be earning XP that carries over to all game types. My only complaint is the Simming. Days where you have nothing going on take surprisingly long to Sim. It can be frustrating if you’re looking to jump into Career for a quick match. There are also some curiously long load times when you load the game and when trying to save your career. Nothing serious but it’s worth noting.
Now that we have all that out of the way, how does FIFA 12 play? It plays like a game of soccer. By that, I mean, it is the most authentic experience you can have without actually being on the pitch. I’ve played a bit of soccer in my youth and I can tell you, first hand, everything you are doing happens exactly how it would in real life. EA’s new Precision Dribbling and Player Impact engines are the stars of the show.
As always, while waiting for the game to load, you get to control one player and square off against a keeper to get a feel for things. I suggest you try charging straight through the keeper a few times or try getting really close and dribbling around the keeper. These are both great ways to get an up close look at the new Precision Dribbling Engine and the Player Impact Engine. Your efforts are now real time instead of being a series of animations. If someone only clips you with a tackle you no longer go down in a heap every time. Balls can be punched through keepers a well as defenders. Aerial challenges for goal kicks now produce more realistic results as to where the ball ends up.
Players contact with each other is handled much more realistically this year thanks to the Player Impact engine. Every part of each player is a real object with its own physics, making for much more realistic looking jockeying and challenging. It’s not often that a video game truly makes me want to go do something in real life but FIFA 12 succeeds on so many levels that it made me want to see if my cleats still fit.
The other big addition to FIFA 12 is the EA Sports Football Club. Specifically the Support Your Club feature. Support Your Club is like a fantasy league that you get to actually play in. Set your favorite club and track their progress, not in the real world, but online in FIFA 12. If you want your club to be the best in the game, get online win some matches. With EAS Football Club you can also track the progress of your friends, your own Pro Club and participate in challenges for bonus XP. The best part is that you’ll be controlling your Virtual Pro across all of the online modes, earning experience and upgrading his stats at all times. The sheer amount of things to do online in FIFA 12 is a perfect complement to how much you will actually want to play this game.
FIFA 12′s achievements aren’t for the casual footballer. Sure there are a few for completing specific game modes, but a lot have to do with specific in-game feats of skill. Dribble between an opponents legs, a nod to the new physics engines, or score a goal with a bicycle kick, to mention a few. I enjoy it when achievements reward you for getting better at playing the game rather than just finishing all the levels or collecting all the things.
FIFA 12 is close to perfect. I have never played a game that is more true to the actual experience. The game is fun to play and the long list of game modes do a great job of keeping you invested. EA is going to have a lot of trouble topping this effort next year.