Review - Fifa 12

It seems like only yesterday that EA regurgitated another soccer title to add to their Fifa franchise, however here we are, Fifa 12 was released at the end of last month and smashed opening day sales records across the UK as well as being the most sold Fifa title across the US. So what's all the fuss about? Is this really the best Fifa title to date or just another Fifa game full of age old mechanics with some additional fluff thrown in?

I'm not a huge fan of single player titles anymore, if a game has an online function I usually throw myself straight at it but with more skill based games such as Fifa, you have to at least have a warm up game or two. After a few minutes of watching my shots fly over the crossbar in Arena Mode, I decided to jump into an Exhibition game, and what better teams to do it with than iconic rivals Manchester United and Manchester City. The new cut-scene introduction is quite tasty, some nice stadium views and it really builds up a high amount of excitement, only real drawback is that people skip these 90% of the time so feels like a wasted addition but an attractive one none the less.

EA Debunks Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion
The whistle blew and I began the first half, it took no less than 4 minutes for me to lose all ability to play through laughing at the new physics engine, Rooney had totally flattened Silva, it looked like the little guy had been hit by a tank, it was that harsh. I eventually stopped laughing and was able to un-pause the game, only to find that Rooney and Silva were both running around the pitch on one leg, which is pretty difficult to do at maximum speed. The video below shows the same kind of glitch that I came across

The physics engine is probably the most obvious addition to the matchplay itself, at times it's very realistic and great fun, at other times it's totally broken, ridiculously humorous and about as unrealistic as Unicorns and Leprechauns. The bugs don't occur to frequently so it's not terrible, and when it's working correctly it really does add a new level to the game, it reminds me of the first few games that had rag doll physics, I'm sure EA can polish it for the next Fifa but I do feel they pushed it out a little early, despite the fact it spent 3 years in development.

If you can stop laughing at the ridiculous back flips and broken limb animations for long enough to play the game, it's easily one of the best soccer experiences available. The A.I seems far more realistic than other Fifa titles, making runs, covering positions, overall, showing more awareness than they have done before.

Over the years Fifa has introduced new feature after new feature, playing Fifa 12 makes it feel like they've really hit the nail on the head, making small improvements to finesse passing, trick stick animations and other mechanics, making for much smoother game-play. The first few games I played with friends displayed some amazing soccer talent, back-heel 1-2 moves, cheeky little flicks and turns and some really crisp nut-meg action. With a bit of practice with the trick stick and close dribbling controls, combined with the finesse passing, you can play build up soccer as good as Arsenal or Barcelona.

With previous Fifa titles, I always felt tackling was far too easy and intercepting the ball was to difficult. It feels the total opposite with the introduction of the new defensive mechanics. It takes a few minutes practice but after you've got the hang of it, you can easily cut out any pass made in your own half with a very high success rate, simply get the A.I to chase the player in possession while you quickly switch between other players positioning them to intercept the pass, it works far too often. The tackling requires more skill than previous Fifa games and does feel more realistic but it's so random at times. One game I played I counted 6 tackles on 1 player, after each tackle the ball either deflected straight back to the player or went to another player on the oppositions team, using the close control button makes it very difficult to be tackled, to the point of where every player that can perform level 4 skill tricks is as dangerous as Messi when running at your defenders. The defensive tools is a nice addition but it's another new feature that I feel lacks polish.

So having played a few matches with friends and against the A.I, I decided it was time to take my talents into the world of online competition. Excited at a number of game modes I'd not tried before and in awe of all the pre-release hype of Ultimate Team and Be a Pro, I was excited as all the geeks that showed up to midnight launches, before you curse, I was one of those geeks.

The online play is probably one of the most frustrating aspects of Fifa 12, it could have easily been its defining feature but as with previous games, it falls short. There's no shortage of modes you can take online, basic Exhibition games, Head to Head Seasons, Be a Pro, Ultimate Team, the amount of choice available would suggest that there's a good chance you can find a mode you enjoy. Sadly, this isn't the case as practically every online mode has a bug, exploit or mechanics issue that makes the average player nerd-rage more than the fat kid that lost his World of Warcraft account.

Ultimate Team
It seems EA have mastered an art plaguing the worlds greatest scientists for decades, the art of human cloning. Not only can players duplicate the top stars in the game, they can also sell them on to other players. This practically destroys any fair players chance of competing on any real level, I would like to think this atrocious bug will be fixed at some point but 2 weeks down the line, it's still an issue.

Head to Head Season
This bug appears to be prevalent in all online game modes but it rears its ugly head in Head to Head mode more than others, certain players have the ability to force their opponents to disconnect using some kind of third party software. If you're unfamiliar with this game mode, you basically play in your own little league, against other players and have to meet a certain point quota to avoid relegation or get promoted. When an opponent forces you to disconnect, it counts as a loss and could result in you losing 7 games worth of work if you don't get promoted because of that last game.

Any Online Mode
This is one of the most discussed topics on the official forums, goalkeeper abuse. I'm not going to draw you a schematic but switching to control your goalkeeper at certain points during your opponents attack almost guarantees you won't concede a goal, removing the need for the new fancy defensive tools they've added.

Fifa 12 could quite easily be the greatest soccer game ever released but not right now, the constantly abused bugs and issues with the mechanics makes it far too annoying to actually sink time into any of the in-depth modes, leaving you with basic Exhibition modes with your friends or playing solo through the typically dull Career mode. They have made an announcement regarding a patch that will make “drastic changes” to certain mechanics and maybe then Fifa 12 could live up to its full potential but at the moment, you're probably going to spend more time trying to tear your own face off than enjoying the game.

Article by - Blaine Smith

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