FIFA Soccer 12

Manchester City Sure is Rich

We bicycle kicked our way through FIFA Soccer 12. Too bad we missed every shot.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: October 6, 2011
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Every year I say this will be the one that I follow soccer more closely. Yet every year I fail to follow through. Thereís nothing wrong with the sport and I love watching it on television. I canít really explain why I have a hard time becoming a soccer aficionado. So when I was tasked with the review of FIFA Soccer 12 it felt like the perfect way to get a crash course in the sport, its rules, and its players. I havenít played a soccer game in ages and I canít even remember the last time I played FIFA. I always took my friendsí word (since, you know, they were actual soccer players) that PES was the series to go with and so thatís what I played. So Iíve been out of the loop for a while and I missed FIFAís ascent to the soccer throne. Still, I knew that this was a series that was highly regarded as one of the blue bloods of the sports gaming world and my expectations were pretty high. Iím happy to report that FIFA 12 met almost all of these goals and exceeded at quite a few.

There is just so much to do in FIFA 12 I donít know where to begin. Managing and playing a team, creating your own player, ultimate team, online, and thereís a host of new features. I will try to touch on everything but let me just start by saying if youíre a soccer fan, Iím sure you have the game already. If you donít then I would suggest that you right that wrong because this, more than any other sports title, can last you for months. The Madden series has always suffered once the actual NFL season starts but thatís not the case with FIFA. Thereís always a new challenge and the player base is so massive that youíll never experience the same game twice. Itís the closest thing that sports fans will have to a RPG in terms of time spent playing. I canít even begin to imagine how many hours that fans have spent playing each game in the series. Itís kind of a cliche to say it nowadays, but I would start up this game wanting to play one match and end up playing five or more. I donít know whatís with the formula but unlike other sports games I wanted to play multiple matches in one sitting. It could take me two or three weeks of Madden to match the games Iíve played in FIFA in less than a week.

The major features I intentionally omitted above are the EA Sports Football Club and Support Your Club. At the beginning of the game you choose your favorite team and everything you do from then on goes towards an overall score. Every match, win, lose, or draw, levels up and gives your team a boost against fans of other clubs all across the world. You can track your progress against your friends as well but itís a sense of pride to try and help get your team to the top of the rankings. Right now Manchester United is at the top of the standings but I would venture a guess that it may change in time. By the entire fanbaseís play the team can avoid relegation and there are different rivalries, storylines, and challenges each week. These features have kept me playing more than any other sports game out there and itís such a simple, obvious addition.

The player impact engine is another of the new features and it makes a huge difference. Even though I havenít been on the soccer wagon for a while I can honestly say that I canít see myself going back to a game without this engine. One of the biggest problems I have with sports games is that they generally donít make the players feel real. In FIFA almost every slide tackle has a sense of realism as though youíre actually taking down another player. If you reach out for another player you feel that sense of keeping pace and playing defense as opposed to just standing in their way. Every source of contact has some sort of outcome and thereís none of this clipping nonsense that haunts other series on the market. Another small detail that I loved is the referees actually act like real refs. They will stay in the area of the action but get out of the way if needed. Itís leaps and bounds above the systems I saw in NCAA Football 12 and Madden NFL 12 where a ref could literally be run through as though they were some sort of illusion.

The AI is also far more advanced than any other EA sports game I have played this year. Thanks to the new pro player intelligence system the computer takes advantage of each playerís skill set. Instead of trying to dump off to LeGarrette Blount in Madden, FIFA takes advantage of the playerís strengths. This means you will see a lot of Leo Messi near the goal and Cristiano Ronaldo will take a lot of shots each game. Players that have better vision will also pick out better passing routes and the team will alter its attack strategy to its personnel. If youíre playing career mode and a team completely overhauls their roster or posts a transfer for a big star then the team will be drastically different in its next match. The AI is also a great matchup and each difficulty level is well balanced. On the easier difficulty you should have no problem winning 4-0, on medium it will probably be closer to 2-1, but on the hardest difficulty things become a bit hectic. If the AI is down towards the end of a match do not be surprised to see the fan appointed ďMessi ModeĒ where it blasts past your defenses. Never once did I feel as though things were too difficult though and I learned something new, particularly on defense, every match.
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