Where there was once competition between FIFA and their competitor Pro Evolution Soccer (PES), FIFA now seem now have firmly regained control on the football game market. So much so that I, a non-football-game-player, picked it up on release day to give it a try.
FIFA 12 is a testament to how games should be upgraded. The mechanics have been tuned up and the pace is sharper, more realistic and flows more dynamically than previous titles…or at least, that’s the plan. For someone who hasn’t picked up a new football game in more than three years, the game is truly punishing.
In FIFA 12, they have introduced Tactical Defending, a defence mechanic that means you can finely pinpoint tackles and runs more realistically. For veterans of the game, this means that they can make their precise tackles look even more realistic and act more effective. For the rest of us it means that if you’re not precise, you’re going to lose…badly.
The difficulty system is also slightly flawed. I play FIFA 12 on the Pro level, and get absolutely hammered. But I play on Pro for two reasons: Firstly, playing on any level below Pro means you’re exempt from any of the FIFA leaderboards, which is an annoying thing to include. And secondly, I find Semi Pro too easy. It’s a sign of a slight imbalance when I can go to a Semi Pro match and win 4-0, then change to Pro and lose by the same margin.
Despite my lack of skill, FIFA 12 is still a surprisingly fun timesink and I’ve already put many hours into the various modes that are available. The ‘Be a Pro’ category is now simply quick matches, whereas the Career Mode lets you choose between playing your career as a Player, Manager or Player Manager. The transfer system is better than in previous games and I’m quite fond of the scouting system as well. The season runs on a day-by-day basis and during the simulation between days you’ll regularly receive various emails from the board of directors (manager), other teams with negotiation offers (manager) or your manager (player). These are usually quite informative, but can also be unnecessary. For example, when a player gets a red card during one of the games I played, I then received an email from the manager letting me know … we were both at the game, I saw it too.
Then there’s FIFA 12 Ultimate Team, which is another additional game mode of some worth but isn’t really explained too far beyond “Like manager mode but you buy cards which represent players/kits/badges/staff etc instead of actually buying those things”. Instead of transfers, you buy new player cards from the ‘Store’ in packs of Bronze, Silver or Gold; alternatively you can search on the in-game auction to pick up specific types of player/staff/consumable. It can become a bit annoying needing to purchase contract cards to keep your players able to play, and the whole setup just feels a little bit pointless to be honest.
I did doubt the lack of a manual when it came to things such as player development and skill moves but FIFA 12 appears to run on a ‘pick it up as you go along’ ethos. Overall, the game will give you a good stint of gameplay, but don’t expect it to welcome you with open arms, unless is tempts you into sucking up your ego and dropping the difficulty.