Manchester City Sure is Rich
When it comes to the controls things are a bit hard to pick up. Every button seems to have an important use and some have two or three depending on the length you hold or press them. The precision dribbling lets you pull off some sweet moves, including going right through a defender’s legs (which is actually a trophy) and the tactical defending places a huge emphasis on positioning. If you can keep an opponent ahead of you and stay in their lanes you’ll be successful more often than not. Though there were times I almost felt like I needed an extra hand but eventually I settled into a comfortable usage pattern with everything. Be careful about tackling all willy-nilly though, because the player impact engine can work against you. Every bit of contact is measured and the force of the collision can cause some nasty injuries. In my first game of career mode I lost Kaka for four months with an ACL tear about ten minutes into the match. I did notice that injuries seemed to happen quite often though the majority of them required less than a week of recovery. Even with that said it seems like the players teeter on the fragile side so I suggest exercising a lot of caution on when you choose to tackle.
Speaking of career mode, it’s beyond anything I have seen in a sports game. You can be a player, manager, or player-manager and each has its own drawbacks or perks. Right from the start you can see the huge difference in team revenues and the budgets each team is allowed. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Manchester City has a budget bigger than the entire MLS and of course, cash is everything in the world of soccer. The smaller guys will have to invest their limited resources wisely, perhaps splurging on a great scout or two to improve the youth squad. To be blunt I didn’t fully understand how the transfer process worked in soccer. I guess it never clicked with me that the player’s old contracts were terminated and the new team had to come to an agreement, unlike here in the good old U.S. where a player is usually traded with his deal. Career mode is the closest I have ever found a game to getting the general manager experience right. You have to talk to the media and try to come up with the best speaking point and evaluate everything to do with your club. Sure, it might incite the fans and cause the team to take a major step back to move that fan favorite but the posting fee could triple your budget. You also get emails from executives who remind you of expectations and when it gets to the transfer deadline day things go bonkers. I have worked out a transfer, gotten turned down by a player in contract negotiations, only to lose him to a rival. The differences between leagues, countries, and individual teams makes every club its own challenge and gives the game near limitless playability. Be a pro mode allows you to create a player and level him up through a series of challenges and tasks in a game. The only problem with this is that once he's in the game it's impossible to get him out. I had to delete my game saves to get back the default rosters because I didn't want some 62 overall striker running around on Real Madrid over superior players.
The ultimate team mode is basically the same as Madden. You start out with a bunch of less-than-desirable players and as you win matches you accrue points that can go towards purchasing more, and better, packs. It’s more expansive than its NFL counterpart because of the various tournaments. Each tournament has its own difficulty and these are updated on a weekly basis. If you want to bypass the hard knocks of building up a pool of cash you can just spend some real moolah and buy gold packs right away. It’s a good way to unload some of the extra cash you have on the PSN and it does make life more simple. It’s still a money grab, though, and I would wager that most of the top teams were paid for. The online also had a bit of a face lift and you can play ranked seasons. There’s a ton to do here but I’ll just admit that I got stomped every time I tried to play online and will probably never reach the top of the mountain.
FIFA 12 is the closest thing to a complete sports package on the market. There’s so much detail in the game that it’s really a marvel to behold. There’s even two broadcast teams and each has their own set of lines to alleviate the repetitiveness found in most games in the genre. I said earlier that every match was a learning experience and I must say that I still can’t claim to know even half of all the game has to offer. I don’t have to tell you that if you’re a soccer fan that you will love this game, but if you’re just looking for a fun game that provides something different each time you play then you’ve also come to the right spot. There are some quirks that prevent it from being perfect but it’s easily the best sports title I have played this year. For me this game was a learning experience and it may finally be the kick in the pants I needed to follow through on my goal to become a true soccer fan.