It’s that time of the year again when football fans everywhere clamor to their gaming systems for the latest release of the FIFA game franchise.  EA Sports is back again with some major changes to an already great EA Sports FIFA 11 game and it has been released to the masses.  Normally, we here at GaminShogun like to review games within a week of their release date.  EA Sports FIFA 12 has some major changes to their game modes so we wanted to take that extra time to run a few weeks of career mode so that we could bring you a solid review.  Let’s jump on the pitch and see what lifts the trophy or gets sent to the locker room for a cold shower.

What We Thought Was Cool

On Field Changes:

EA Sports FIFA 12 boasts an impressive number of changes to the on field gameplay experience.  This season we start with the all new “Player Impact Engine” that is the total game changer.  The impact engine turns up the realism to 11 by allowing the players to not only move correctly but collide like they would in real life.  Long gone are the days of clipping into your opponent when trying to go for the ball or getting stuck with your hand buried in their chest like an Indiana Jones film.  When two players come up against each other, the impact engine calculates behind the scenes what type of collision will happen.  This could mean your player ending up on his head during a 50/50 battle or simply getting tripped up only to recover.  here this is really shown is when you are charging for goal or going up in the air for a header.  The AI will often use their muscle to realistically push you out of the way causing a change in tactics. This has a tie in with the new “Pro-Player Intelligence” which ups the AI challenge in the game.  One of the downfalls of FIFA 11 was that the AI did not respond very well in some situations.  It was really easy to lob the ball into the box and score a header on almost every chance.  I am happy to report that in FIFA 12 it is really hard to score regardless of the level you are playing on and that really makes you feel like you are in an actual game.

The final two additions to the in-game changes are “Precise Dribbling” and “Tactical Defending”.  While the defending was greatly improved last year, FIFA 12 turns up the volume allowing a wider range of movement.  Players like Lionel Messi can be silky smooth as they dribble the ball past defenders or through their legs.  The ball moves just like the real thing in the game instead of acting like it is being pulled by polar magnets.  The new “Tactical Defending” system takes away the need to run at full speed at players to get the ball.  In FIFA 11 it was very easy to charge into your opponent with a tackle to win the ball for your side.  The new defending system puts a huge importance on positioning and intercepting passes.  Running at a player in this game usually ends up resulting in a juke or spin by the attacker.

Career Mode and Ultimate Team:

The Career mode was given a complete UI re-design for FIFA 12 and is much easier to navigate.  The news feeds can be searched using the right thumbstick and are not on some strange sub menu.  Not only are they easier to read but they supply a great deal of information.  In FIFA 11, news was shorts blurbs that didn’t really matter.  FIFA 12 news provides a story that leaves the player immersed into the world of the league they are playing.  Adding in match day media coverage that you as the manager choose and you have a winning system.  Player fitness and morale was always a big deal in the FIFA franchise but never had that real level of immersion.  FIFA 12 will show why players are upset with some even asking to leave the club.  The Career mode experience in FIFA 12 is vastly improved and offers the huge replay factor that single player gamers will be hunting for.  Well done by the FIFA dev team for making these changes!

Ultimate Team is the card collectible football game that has always come as DLC in years past.  This year, Ultimate Team is included in the box at no additional charge.  A huge plus for FIFA gamers that allows tons of replay value to both online and single player gamers.  Ultimate Team has received a fresh UI re-design that is easier to navigate and read through.  The game stays the same as in years past with no new notable changes.  There are new online and single player tournaments every week by the EA staff that allow the players to win coins for upgradeable packs.  You can also easily challenge your friends and play in single one off matches.  While Ultimate Team is one of my favorite game modes, I still don’t understand the need for player contracts.  For the casual player, contracts do nothing but slow down your game play and should be removed from the game.  It is hard enough to collect coins without having to worry about if you can actually use your players.

EA Sports Football Club:

EASFC is the shining star of FIFA 12.  The FIFA 12 community has always been one of the strongest out of all gaming franchises and the FIFA team has built on that.  Football Club allows the player to pick their favorite club and earn experience not only for themselves but for their home club.  As you play through any mode (no matter what team) you will do your part to see your club rise or fall through the ranks.  EASFC has a great and informative UI design that is easy to read for all players.  Each week is a dedicated season and if your team doesn’t make it then you might be bumped to a lower league.  You can also view your personal rank against your friends and compete in daily challenges.  These challenges are ripped from the headlines by the EA team and have the player decide the outcome of real world matches.  As an example, Manchester United tore through Arsenal recently.  The EA team might make a challenge that has you play as Arsenal to try and change the outcome of the match.  Every challenge completed adds more experience to your club and helps you a long the way.  EASFC is a huge addition to the series and here is to hoping it sticks around for many years to come.

What We Thought Sucked

The Commentary:

while being a bit nit picky I find myself playing FIFA 12 with the sound off most of the time.  The announcers are just very bland and I have a hard time feeling engaged with them.  I feel that it is time for a change in the roster as their are much more engaging announcers in the various leagues.  I encountered many weird errors in the commentary where the announcers would describe an event that never happened.  It was much better playing a podcast in the background then having to be pulled out of the game.

Final Thoughts

FIFA 12 is the shining star of football games and quite possibly could be the best sports game on the market today.  It is obvious that the EA Sports developer team not only love the game but listen to their community.  FIFA 12 is a train that simply can’t be stopped and is an instant buy for any Shogunite that is a fan of football or sports games in general.


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