This is a fantastic game but I have to give it 4 stars because I think the way EA marketed this game, i.e. as if they completely revolutionized the FIFA franchise , is a tad misleading. Maybe it’s just me but I found the whole ‘impact system’ that this release is centered around to be very over rated and , when I did experience it during games, to be pretty glitchy (more on that later).
1) Let’s start with my favorite part about this game – I feel that FIFA 12 really introduces a whole new level of realism into the franchise in that it really does seem to be a game that will require players to think differently in each match as the improved ball physics makes every shot move different ,even if hit from the same spot using the same power. One of my biggest peeves in FIFA 11 was playing against the hardcore FIFA players who mastered the game to the point where they knew where to shoot from, how much power to use – strategies which almost always resulted in a goal. I think 12 has gone some way to addressing the scenario of players being able to beat the game engine which will be a relief for casual players such as myself. Bear in mind , I think i felt similarly about FIFA 11 too so if i find myself once again getting scored on from the same spots, I’l edit this portion of the review.
2) Improved player AI – Absolutely fantastic. After playing about 10 games against the computer, I could really feel the difference. In fact, the only reason playing against the computer didn’t seem as fun as playing online was because i knew I was playing against the computer. The scores were always vastly different i.e. 6-0 in 1 game , 1-2 in another and the AI’s decision making ability ,even at the semi-pro level I am currently playing at is extremely smart. Case in point – I rushed my keeper on the AI player and the player actually chipped the ball above the keeper. Maybe it’s just me but I never saw the computer do that in FIFA 11 even at the ‘legendary’ difficulty level.
3) Defending – Ok I admit it – I was one of those whose defense strategy in 11 was to simply rush onto the opposition with the X button pressed. I tried the same strategy in ‘amateur’ difficulty in FIFA 12 and almost lost the game. In short, defending in Fifa 12 is much more about anticipation and interception than it is about tough tackling – just as is the case in the real sport.
4) Dribbling: Just like the improved bal physics make it difficult for the very good players to master scoring positions , shooting power etc. , the improved dribbling makes it very difficult for amateur players to just come in and steal the ball by just running into the player with the x button pressed when a player is pulling of a skill.
5) Commentary – Having 2 separate commentary teams certainly goes a long way towards not hearing the same thing again and again.
6) Graphics – Player faces have been enhanced to give a more real life look as compared to the glossy look players had in Fifa 11.
7) Other: As with recent FIFA releases, you really have to keep playing Fifa 12 to really see all the new subtle tweaks in the game that really add up to making a big difference and hence i will continue to update this section as and when i notice something really cool. Here are some I have noticed
a) Injuries: I actually had a player get injured mid run and just go down, possibly because I had maxed out his stamina and was still exerting him
b) Game customization: You actually have the ability to increase/ reduce several attributes of both you as well as the computer (on a scale of 100) such as shot speed, acceleration, pass speed, injury frequency, injury severity, goalkeeper ability etc. – kinda helps if you want to make the game even more easier/challenging in addition to the difficulty setting you selected.
How much of a difference does that make? I set my team’s sprint speed and acceleration to 100 and that of the computer to 0; in the previous game where all attributes were equal, I won 2-1 but with the edited settings, i won 35-0 , both at the exact same difficulty level.
Revamped Start Menu – Is cool but not a big deal for me. it’s just one of those things that gives you that ‘oh yes this is a new game’ feeling for the first couple of times but after that, you just feel indifferent towards it. Personally , I don’t think it improves or decreases the user experience but yes it does look a bit better.
1) Player impact engine: The primary reason that I consider this to be a negative is that i hardly ever see it come into effect in the game and when there is impact between players, the results are either over exaggerated or glitchy. 2 examples – The first was when I launched a sliding tackle straight through a player in the penalty box and it just made the player slightly imbalanced when he really should have gone down – no complaints from me as I avoided conceding a penalty but it will make it frustrating if i’m on the receiving end of one. The second was just plain ridiculous – I literally just walked into a defender but my player went somersaulting a few meters as if the defender had grabbed his leg and flung him full force. If it were Busquets or Alves who went flying, then i would commend the extreme realism in the game in that it really took player personality to a whole new level but it wasn’t a player known for being a notorious diver.
Perhaps I may change my mind about the impact engine but , as it stands, I am disappointed in this feature as this was marketed as some sort of revolutionary change in the game but I could hardly ever experience it and when I did , the results were disappointing. I assume EA will release a patch to address these glitches after which I will edit my review but personally, the inability of this feature to meet my expectations is the primary reason why I took off 1 star.
2) Sluggishness – At least a couple of times, the navigation took at least 2 seconds to respond after i pressed a button on the remote. Eg – I pressed ‘down’ to navigate from ‘Team management’ to ‘tactics’ but it took a little while for the selection arrow to move down. Not a deal breaker but it will be very frustrating if it continues.
3) Player attributes don’t change when you change the player’s position – Not sure why EA did away with this one as i found this to be extremely helpful. Yeah everyone knows that you can’t player Vidic as a striker but ,especially in the case of players whose preferred positions you may not be familiar with, it’s just a bummer that their attributes don’t change if you switch a specialist defender into a striker role and vice versa.
If it weren’t for the glitches and the fact that i found the impact engine to be grossly over rated, Fifa 12 would be a 5 star game. The game has a more solid , realistic feel about it and the tweaks benefit both advanced players as well as the casual players such as myself. Advanced players will find it much more difficult to master positions from which they will almost always be able to score, but ,in return , they will find it a lot easier to hold on the ball because of how much EA has tweaked the defending and the dribbling in the game. The less advanced players will benefit from not being frustrated to always see players score from those certain spots but will be forced to try to get better at the game because ‘brain dead’ defending is no longer an option.
Is the game worth 60 bucks? I don’t think so but , as is always the case, the fact that most online players will ditch Fifa 11 and the latest rosters will end up leaving you with little choice (assuming you mainly buy the game to play online). I bought the game when Amazon was offering a 20$ credit and am trading in my copy of Fifa 11 for 15 bucks so, for 25 bucks, this game is a steal.
I haven’t tested the Career feature yet and have never played ‘be a pro’ so i can’t comment on that but this is indeed a very solid football game and , money aside, will certainly provide a very satisfying experience. It’s the best Fifa to date and I look forward to playing it for the next 12 months.