FIFA 12 is a great game when you get on the pitch and actually play football. The off-the-pitch issues are what plague it most, which sort of makes it realistic and close to real-life, just not in a way EA Sports – and certainly not the way the fans – expected it to.

Pros
  • Tactical Defending is a great addition
  • Precision Dribbling gives players a lot more time on the ball
  • Nice, solid presentation
Cons
  • Impact Engine is a bit wonky in places
  • Both Online and Offline game modes are plagued with bugs

FIFA 11 was a very strange game, in that it brought out a myriad of reactions – often polar opposites – from us at different times during the game experience. The convergence of the offline game modes into one Career mode was a welcome move, as was the move to a less-automated passing system. The superhuman defenders and numerous bugs, however, were routinely subject to deluges of expletive-filled outbursts. Ultimately though, FIFA 11 wasn’t a significant enough upgrade over its predecessor to warrant a purchase, even if it was drastically different.EA Sports have looked to change that with FIFA 12, as one might have noticed with all the pre-release “best FIFA ever” talk. We dismissed that as the perennial hype machine, but come September 30 we were actually left wondering if we were a little too quick in our dismissal of the claim, with the biggest reasons for that being the changes in gameplay.

FIFA’s gameplay changes have followed a bit of a trend recently. In their quest to get ever-closer to realism, EA Sports have focused on a particular aspect of football each year. Two years ago, 360-degree dribbling was introduced, and last year it was the passing system that got a revamp. This year, it’s the turn of the aspect that has stayed pretty much untouched for more than a decade now – defending.

If you thought defending in FIFA 12, like in every other recent FIFA, would be about holding down the A or X button (or the D key) to press and tackle the opponent, think again. Tactical Defending, as the feature is called, takes the focus away from pressing and closing down to a more positioning and timing based system. You are encouraged to intercept the ball, or contain the opponent in a specific area to stifle the attack.

Conclusion
FIFA 12’s gameplay is extremely solid and is only a few Impact Engine tweaks away from being excellent, but the numerous bugs and issues that plague both the offline and online game modes are quite the mood killers. One can only hope patches are on the way, but we’ve seen EA Sports do this year after year, and there are no signs that lead us to believe this year is any different.

The bottom line, though, is that FIFA 12 is a great game when you get on the pitch and actually play football. The off-the-pitch issues are what plague it most, which sort of makes it realistic and close to real-life, just not in a way EA Sports – and certainly not the way the fans – expected it to.

 

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