FIFA 12 Xbox 360 Review

November 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Xbox 360, Features, Reviews

Publisher – EA Sports – Developer – EA Canada – Genre – Sports – Players – 1-22 – Age Rating – 3+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSP, PS2

FIFA playing second fiddle to Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series is now a distant memory, with the roles reversed and the latter series now playing catch up. It took EA a lot of time and effort to gain the crown, and I very much doubt that they will want to relinquish it any time soon.

This year, FIFA plays a different game of football – certainly with the defending, in any case. Defending is now a lot more skill-based, and is no longer as simple as holding down pressure buttons, with players now marking opponents in possession of the ball, and you can also send the closest AI defender in to attempt a challenge. You can also jostle to pull players back, although this is a tactic that can get you penalised if you make use of it too often. With all the previous said, defending actually requires active tactical thought, which is a first in my experience.

As for being in possession of the ball, the new Precision Dribbling feature is exactly as described. This new system really allows you to have precise control over the ball, making it easier to retain control during tight moments and in other situations. It’s a brilliant inclusion, and is yet another feature that adds to the realism.

EA haven’t stopped there with the realism. The introduction of the Player Impact Engine also adds in some unscripted real world scenarios, and was apparently two years in the making. Bar the odd occasion, players come together a lot more authentically, with momentum causing weighty and painful looking collisions (injuries sustained are now based on calculations from the engine) making the matches feel and look more heated – just like a real football match.

The Player Impact Engine does bring about a few problems, namely in some of the referee’s decisions. A nasty collision blatantly caused by another player can go completely ignored, although on the whole the referees do a great job with keeping up with each match situation.

The above features are the major changes to the on-pitch action, although there’s also a number of new modes and features.

First up is the EA Sports Football Club.  This allows you to choose the club you support, and then whatever you do in the game will earn you XP towards the success of your team, contributing to the position of the team in the online league. But you don’t necessarily have to stick with the team that you support – the game kindly allows you to switch between teams and still contribute to your supported club’s position in the league.

There’s also the brand new online Head to Head Seasons mode, in which you begin in the lowly tenth league, and by winning matches against other players you can receive promotion, although relegation from higher leagues is also possible. Each season consists of ten matches, and certainly adds some tension to one-on-one ranked matches.

As for returning options, the Career mode hasn’t been left untouched, with an easier to use transfer system and a new dramatic countdown, which marks when the transfer window is coming to a close. Speaking of transfers, you’re now able to stall deals if you’re undecided whether to let a player move on. If you’re not using players enough, some will come and vent their frustrations at you, which will put a dent in their morale and could lead to them wanting to cut any ties with your club.

Visually, the game is once again great to watch, but now even better thanks to the Player Impact Engine. On the aural side, commentary comes from Martin Tyler and Alan Smith or Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend, with Andy Gray no longer on the microphone. Commentary is typically good, but does repeat some lines all too often, while the crowd, as always, seems completely into each match.

FIFA 12 is the series once again on top form. EA have fiddled, tweaked and overhauled enough of the game to make this feel like a more realistic and significant advancement over all that has gone before. While Konami have work to do with the Pro Evolution Soccer series, EA aren’t going to give up the fight easily.