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FIFA 12 First Impressions: It’s the Small Stuff That Counts

fifa 12 FIFA 12 First Impressions: Its the Small Stuff That Counts

There is always that love/hate that people have with EA Sports games. People love it because they know that when EA makes a game, you are going to get almost everything you could ever imagine in a sports game. The license, the players and so on. And then, there are the things that you hate about EA games. With them scooping up licences, they tend to break their competition down (yes Madden, I am looking at you) and make their games unplayable. They change game elements and sometimes they even take small things out. For example, how much is it to ask for to get a decent halftime show? Ask 2K Sports to educate you on how to make a proper sports presentation hat will really immerse you into a game.

FIFA 12, like Madden 12, represents all of the love/hate that fans have had for the franchise over the years. Because truthfully, most of the changes in this year’s iteration are small tweaks.

Let’s start off with the fact that if you bought EA’s Season pass (20 bucks) you get the entire game downloaded to your PS3 or 360 for nothing extra. The entire game. Not a demo. You are then free to go in and start your career mode, download your game face etc. It lasts right up to the point of the actual day of release. If you are a hardcore EA Sports gamer, this will be up your alley because for one year you can get any EA Sports title and if you feel like it sucks, you lost nothing except money for the access and a few hours. Your miles may vary.

As for the game itself, the presentation screens remain largely unchanged from last year’s presentation short of the menu bars scroll at the bottom as opposed to the left side like last year. And for some it really feels at this point that you paid money for a roster update. But wait, here is where the small stuff kicks in that will determine your value of the game.

The EA Sports Football Club has been implemented that gives you XP for things you do within a game and it levels you up accordingly. Also if you support a particular club, everything that you and all of those supporters does goes into the pot and everyone levels together. Another side of this is that you get challenges to complete that earn you XP and unlockables. The challenge this week was to bring Chelsea back from their 1-3 deficit against Man Utd which started you off at the 49′ mark. After three tries, I still haven’t gotten past it because there is so much else I want to see and do.

The Career mode was where I really enjoyed myself on this game and again it looks largely unchanged except now, if you choose to be a player-manager, it’s a little bit more involved. Some of the transfers are indeed a bit more realistic (not to mention that the rosters are already updated to current status). And as an added touch, you get tips and warnings similar to FIFA Manager about how to go after players; if you go after players that play with your rival, you will get told that it will cost you a bit more. Also, the AI is a bit more aggressive about coming after players and that is one thing that was lacking from last year’s iteration. You may receive more that 3 or 4 offers for a particular player, but what I wished for is that if a team really wanted my player, is that if they were denied, they would come back with a higher offer. Also during the course of the season, players will tell you when they are unhappy or feel good about the team so pay attention to the morale of your side.

One other like/dislike I have is that because news articles are highlighted, you can click on them to read the full story but you can’t pick and choose which ones. You have to wait for it to be highlighted to bring up the story. Nice touch but sloppy in execution. Speaking of the press conference, it is a bit forgettable whereas a question may be asked about a match, you answer it, and that’s it. Nothing else. FIFA Manager handled this a bit better by showing you if morale went up or down or if your popularity with fans went up or down. The press conference is just another tacked on extra that should have been fleshed out to be as good as if not better than FIFA Manager.

So with all that said, how is the gameplay? It’s fine but one last bug I have to talk about and then I can get to it. The biggest little bug I have encountered so far is that the AI may have the game scheduled at one time but the lighting effect shows another. I had a game scheduled for 8pm. Once the game started up, the lighting effect was 1pm that afternoon which threw me off simply because it was a minor annoyance, but after seeing this happen two more times, it was irritating.

Gameplay itself is mostly unchanged but one thing I did notice is that there are additional sliders in the game settings you can set to control the pace of the game. You can change yours or the AI’s sprinting speed, pass control, shot power and more. Otherwise it’s the FIFA game everybody knows. As far as the tactical defending, it’s definitely a game changer.

I have seen possessions won and lost based on how hard players play on the ball. There is definitely a lot more jostling and shirt pulling this year and it’s not simple to just take a ball away from someone like last year’s edition. Also I do like that if you hit a bumper button another player can be called over to help contain an attacking player. If you don’t like the tactical defense, supposedly it can be turned off but I haven’t attempted to yet because it feels a bit better.

I haven’t experienced any of the graphical glitches so far that has been reported to have cropped up but one thing I have noticed that a lot of player models haven’t been changed or aren’t 100% correct. Patrice Evra is still a bit too dark considering his skin tone and David De Gea is clean shaven and I wish I had a way to edit that! Wayne Rooney of course is sporting his weave and Bacary Sagna sports his two-tone short locks. There are of course many new animations added because of the new engine involved and yes, the game does move well and the dribbling has improveed also. I feel like I do have a little more control over moving the ball around and not losing it simply because someone got close enough to swipe it away from me.

This year you have two choices for your commentary team and I have used both and so far, they’re not bad but EA still needs to take notes from 2K Sports on how to do commentary. 2K games such as NBA 2K11 had a dynamic system where the commentators could take stats from a previous game you have played and inject them into the game that you are currently playing. Why for the life of me can’t EA do this for Madden and FIFA franchises? Laziness? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your player who shot 60% on target on a team he faced twice last season could do it again today and you know this because of the commentary? Wishful thinking, I know, but then I won’t rant on about the static looking and sounding crowds either.

I have not played any games online as of yet, nor have I been able make time to try Football Ultimate Team but I will do so upon release of the disc on Tuesday, so obviously I cannot comment on that aspect.

In the end however, FIFA 12‘s minor changes especially those in the Career mode and tactical defending will keep you playing. There are a lot of minor additions to the GUI and menu interface that gamers wanted. But, the only ones who will be hard pressed to buy this are the same ones, who like myself, get sick of the minor updates for 60 bucks (like Madden Football) and are hoping for more. At least for futbol fans, you do have an alternative: PES 2012. As long as you can live without the licences, you are OK.

Rating: 8/10.

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20 Responses to FIFA 12 First Impressions: It’s the Small Stuff That Counts

  1. Sam says:

    Did they change player development or bring back the academy/player scouting?

    • Steve says:

      Yep! Player scouting is back with the youth academy. You get 3 scouts. I haven’t finished a season yet though so I don’t know exactly how good/bad/different player development is, as far as getting +1 after a run of good form, etc.

      • Sam says:

        Yeah I didn’t like in ’11 where you had to physically play players for like an entire season for them to progress at all and loaning them never did anything as opposed to ’09 and earlier versions where youth players would progress in training.

  2. canyid says:

    Please tell me they allow you to control email notifications in manager mode. Player needs a rest? I don’t know; I’ll check on game day.

  3. JC says:

    Two questions. First, around the EA Season Pass, can I buy the game outright and then get it delivered via download? Or is the download only for the preview and I have to buy the game the old fashioned way? I’d love to have the title available for me right now (I’d buy it now and start the download), but not if it only lasts until release day (tomorrow).

    And second, on the subject of career mode. Do clubs get relegated/promoted? Meaning, is there a chance of seeing Blackpool in the EPL after the first season or do this handle this in a different fashion?

    Thanks

    • canyid says:

      Clubs do get relegated and promoted in FIFA 11 – I’m sure it’s the same in 2012. It’s fun taking a League 2 team and seeing if you can take them through the ranks.

  4. Jake Islas says:

    Disagree with a lot of what you say is “unchanged” or “minor”, but I really don’t understand how you can say the gameplay is unchanged. There’s a completely NEW Defending System which changes the gameplay in EVERY WAY. Which anyone who has read about the game on this site or anywhere on the internet already knows, and anyone who has played the demo as well. I’m struggling to believe you have actually played the game.

  5. Harry says:

    Ok everyone let’s start BACKWARDS….

    Jake: Read….read…..READ: Game play is MOSTLY unchanged. Meaning if you pick up a controller and played 2011, sure you can play. But I also said: TACTICAL DEFENDING IS A GAME CHANGER. Meaning everything else with the basic gameplay is relatively same but using the TACTICAL DEFENSE ADDS TO IT. Most of the defending has been here before but it’s really fleshed out. You can believe whatever you want, but I have played the game and just because I didn’t gush over the tactical D doesn’t mean I haven’t. Anyone that has played any EA Sports game knows that they always give you a small change year after year and try to sell it as some BIG implementation….no different here. Tactical Defense is a plus but IN MY OPINION, it’s not a big deal to me.

    JC: If you buy EA Season Pass, it allows you to download and play the full version of the game until it’s released. The only thing you need to buy is the Season Pass. Once the game comes out the download becomes inactive and you cannot play it.The good news is that if you play it on the 360, everything you do now, carries over once you buy the game and put your disc in. As far as relegation and promotion, I haven’t played a full season yet, but I am sure that it’s still there.

    Canyid: sorry buddy…go read those e mails.

    Sam: Yes academy and scouting is back. This time around also, you have to hire scouts from your budget and then select a region for them to go to and report.

  6. Harry says:

    Jake,

    Let me also add too, that is the whole point of the title…it’s the small stuff that is a game changer and sometimes it’s the minor tweaks that has the largest impact.

  7. JC says:

    Thanks Harry. Odd they don’t let you buy it outright, since you’ve already downloaded it, but I guess that’s just me, wishing all media was available for download. The days of needing physical discs should soon be over (but not soon enough as far as I’m concerned).

    I haven’t played a FIFA game since 2006, and it was the World Cup game. Before that, Road to the WC. Can you describe how they do the leagues and the promotions / relegations? In other words, can I start in the Championship and work my way up? And how far down do they go? League 2? Deeper?

    Thanks again.

  8. Harry says:

    No, they dont let you buy it outright as its a better way to let you experience the entire game early to let you make up your mind if you want to buy it upon release.

    As far as the leagues, I habent checked that far in, but I am almost sure however they had that set up before, it is there. i am guesssing you want to play with a lower teir team and get into top flight? You should be able to do it.

  9. Sam says:

    Harry, you probably have not played a whole season yet, but is there any benefit to loaning players in this version? In ’11 youth players never gained any points even when getting regular time loaned out.

  10. Harry says:

    Sorry I dont know yet

  11. Jake Islas says:

    Well I guess that’s where I disagree with you, and of course you’re entitled to your opinion. I think the Tactical Defending changes every other aspects of gameplay, especially in tandem with the Precision Dribbling. It gives you more time on the ball, it means you have to break down defenses because you don’t have ridiculously high pressure, it means you can’t just spring passed defenders, and it means you can’t just get possession back by holding down the pressure button. While I would agree with you on past titles that the changes were small, on this year’s game I would have to say a defensive overhaul is a big change that affects multiple aspects of the game. But that’s just my opinion, my review to come…

  12. Harry says:

    Jake, that’s all fine and good. give us your opinion but remember, my most important point is that it’s not a bad game at all, I like the changes and thankfully the changes don’t break the game (like they do in Madden) but whether the Tactical D and the dribble is a huge game changer, in my eyes is up to the individual…as a matter of fact, do me a solid; drop your review on Amazon’s site (where I posted mine today under Dredded Panthyr) so that way the game can get a bigger boost.

  13. Rye says:

    You can scroll through news articles using the right thumb stick… :P

  14. Nathan says:

    Worst review ever its like he never played a fifa game in his life.

  15. Harry says:

    Yeah…I just caught onto that a few days ago…hahahaha!!

  16. the guy who knows says:

    Just one thing that bugs me, its called football please remember this americans because if you say soccer to the rest of the english speaking world you are likely to be laughed out of the room and called a know nothing noob. just some friendly advice.

    • The Gaffer says:

      What about Soccer AM, Gillette Soccer Saturday and Pro Evolution Soccer? Don’t be so hypocritical.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

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