FIFA Soccer 12 Review for Xbox 360

FIFA Soccer 12 Review for Xbox 360

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Games with locked-in annual release schedules are often the target of ire and criticism from gamers and journalists alike. With so much competition on the market this year coming from the likes of Bethesda, Naughty Dog, and Epic (not to mention Konami and their own competing soccer title) some may opt for sitting out EA Sports’ FIFA Soccer 12 this year. However even if you only like soccer a little bit, that would be a catastrophically bad idea. As it stands, FIFA 12 is one of the best sports games I’ve ever played.

For starters, the game sounds amazing. The first thing I noticed while playing through my first few exhibition matches is that the announcers appear to be watching the game as it’s happening rather than just reading lines from a script. And it doesn’t matter who’s announcing. Whether it’s Martin Tyler and Alan Smith or Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend, it’s always good. It took a few days of almost constant play before any of the dialogue started to sound rehearsed or repetitive. There are also French announcers, and Spanish speakers are in for a real treat as legendary announcers Enrique “Perro” Bermúdez and Ricardo Peláez.

FIFA Soccer 12 Screenshot

While it would be accurate to say that this year’s game doesn’t look much better than 11, this is far from an insult. Visually, the athletes are accurate digital representations of their real-world counterparts, which is a real feat considering there are over 15,000 players and more than 500 teams in FIFA 12. Stadiums are also faithfully recreated, capturing what makes those locations memorable. And all this comes with a fairly steady frame rate.

EA Sports has made quite a few improvements to gameplay. This time around you’ll notice that the A.I. has been dramatically improved, as NPCs are now self-aware. In FIFA 12, the players all recognize their own abilities and play accordingly. This means that if AC Milan’s Ibrahimović is a goal-scoring machine on the field, he’ll be just as difficult to stop in the game. It doesn’t end there. Entire teams will act as a collective, changing their play-style based on the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.

Previously, collisions between players were handled poorly, to say the least. In FIFA 12, EA Sports is boasting about the new Player Impact Engine. When two players collide, the engine takes into account lots of varying factors and animates the players accordingly. The result, EA says, is a much more realistic and dynamic way of demonstrating player interaction on the field. This model also determines when injuries should occur, calculating the speed at which players collided and how their bodies would be affected.

FIFA Soccer 12 Screenshot

While the new Impact engine is a welcome change from the previous model, I feel there’s still a little room for improvement. There were times when things just didn’t look right. It’s probable the calculations behind certain collisions were correct, but visually things seemed a bit off. The animations were at times a bit wonky and had a tendency to break the illusion of watching an actual game. When everything clicked, though, it worked well enough.

All of these changes have a dramatic impact on defensive play this year. Timing a proper tackle or setting yourself up to receive an interception is all the more delicate now that the A.I. has been tweaked and players respond realistically to contact. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Virtual Pro mode.

FIFA Soccer 12 Screenshot

In Virtual Pro Mode, you can create a Player, Manager, or Player Manager (sort of like an agent) and advance through each of their career paths. Playing as a Player is pretty self-explanatory—you pick your team, sign up, and progress through your career one game at a time, playing through championships and that sort of thing. As a Manager, your goal is to choose the direction you’d like the team to go, picking the strategy for each match and building a great team. It’s also your job to manage the drama that comes with having a bunch of well-paid athletes under your care, so be prepared. A Player Manager takes care of the players on the lineup, but isn’t confined to watching the game from the sidelines. He can also join in the game on key battles.

The way the key gameplay changes come to light here take place when you choose to play through the career controlling only your virtual pro on the field. All of the players on the field will act independently of you, while at the same time taking your actions into account, factoring in things like your position on the field, which direction you’re heading, and your abilities as a player. None of this is new—far from it—but the way it’s implemented shows off just how much progress EA Sports has made with the A.I. and other aspects of the game.

The online component of FIFA 12 is far from lacking this year as well. That has a lot to do with the fact that they took a close look at the feedback they received from the community and made the necessary adjustments. The server issues that kept gamers frustrated during Online Team Play have been resolved, better matchmaking solutions have been presented, and they’ve found out a way to stop people from cheating their way to the top of the leaderboards. So, should you decide to spend some time online in FIFA 12, you’ll most likely find it to be a better experience that previous entries.

FIFA Soccer 12 Screenshot

There’s the EA Sports Football Club, which works a bit like Need for Speed’s Autolog, allowing friends to compete asynchronously and post news of their accomplishments to Facebook. Then there’s Support Your Club. At the beginning of the game you’ll be asked to pick your favorite soccer team. Everything you do in the game earns you XP points, and you level up to unlock gear and things like that. The XP you earn is also counted toward your favorite team, and scores are tallied at the end of each week to determine which club has the most active supporters. FIFA Ultimate Team, which works sort of like a fantasy football league, allows players to buy, sell, and trade players from within the community and then compete with their teams either online or offline.

There are a lot of “carrot and stick” gameplay elements like this that are meant keep the player motivated, and I’m delighted to say it’s all done tastefully. The game controls fine, though there’s a slight learning curve for timing things properly, but the controls are fully customizable.

When all is said and done, the fundamentals of the sport are extremely well represented, and as of this writing you’d be hard pressed to find a better soccer game.

Players look and act like their real-life counterparts. Animation can be a bit stiff at times. 4.0 Control
Controls are good, but come with a slight learning curve. They’re also fully customizable. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound is easily the most impressive I’ve heard in any FIFA title. The score was also enjoyable. 4.4 Play Value
There’s a lot to do here that will keep the most dedicated completionists busy for some time. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Player Impact Engine—Two years in development, the new physics engine is built to deliver real-world physicality in every interaction on the pitch. Experience an infinite variety of natural and believable outcomes in every contact. Players feel more resilient on the ball, push and pull during the fight for possession, and recover from light challenges more easily, preserving their natural momentum.
  • Pro Player Intelligence—CPU players have been infused with self-awareness and aptitude, enabling them to make decisions based on their own skills as well as the strengths and attributes of their teammates. Players who possess exceptional vision, for example, will see opportunities for through balls that other players won’t. Real Madrid’s Kaká will be more likely—and quicker—to pick out a run from a teammate farther away than a player with poorer vision. Additionally, teams will vary their attack based on the strengths of their players on the pitch, and the weaknesses of opposing players, creating a more authentic experience and greater variety of matches.
  • Tactical Defending—Re-designed defending mechanism fundamentally changes the approach to defending by placing equal importance on positioning, intercepting passes and tackling at the right moment. Tactics and timing are crucial.
  • Precision Dribbling—Enjoy new ways to take on opponents, more time on the ball to make decisions, and complete control of the pace of the game. Utilize close dribble touches in tight spaces, on the wings, and even while fending off an opponent.
  • EA SPORTS Football Club—For the first time ever, everything within FIFA Soccer 12, and against friends, is measured in a meaningful way. Every match matters. Earn experience points and level up to build status. Track friends, challenges, and status through the web. Share and compare accomplishments and spread the news on social channels like Facebook. Plus, real-world storylines will drive content. Gamers will relive crucial real-world events through regular challenges so that FIFA Soccer 12 will look, feel, and play like the real-world season.
  • Support Your Club—A central experience in EA SPORTS Football Club that enables fans to represent their club and compete against rival clubs in everything they do in FIFA Soccer 12. Earn club points to lift your club higher in the Support Your Club League Tables or help them avoid relegation. Virtual league tables are reset each week to create new challenges, renewed rivalries, and fresh storylines.
  • Career Mode – Now driven by the same drama, storylines, and emotion as the real-world game, factors such as player morale, on-pitch form, wages, and league position will drive outcomes in the game. Users will face more decisions and factors than ever before, with their consequences being played out on and off the pitch to test your resolve as a manager all season long, with bigger decisions to make and more dynamic outcomes. Evaluation logic has been improved to reflect a player’s true value, a new scouting network feature has been added to discover new talent, and the excitement of Transfer Deadline day has been expanded to increase the emotion, urgency, and drama of that special day.

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