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FIFA 12 Weekend Thoughts

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This is a hard game.

I received my copy over the weekend and have spent a good bit of time with it and yes, this version of FIFA is different than last year, particularly the physics engine and the controls.

There’s still some of the same CPU shenanigans going on (you can almost feel it when the CPU is about to score, there is still way too much standing around by players off the ball and CPU defenders, regardless of ability, are ball stealing tackling machines.)

I scored my FIRST goal on Professional difficulty last night and it was literally a jump out of your seat moment…

”Take that DC United!”

Truth is, getting a quality shot is proving terribly hard on Pro level – so much so that I took the difficulty down to Semi Pro for a few games, only to discover that the CPU on that level is putrid. So it’s back to Pro with some slider adjustments. (Yes, FIFA 12 has sliders!)

The new physics model, dubbed the Player Impact Engine, has produced some really cool moments. I saw a YouTube video with a bunch of bugs where players were walking around with one leg…I haven’t seen anything like that yet. I have seen players fall over one another, and a delayed foul called several seconds after the fact – which was really cool. In addition, players no longer can start/up/turn on a dime. Well, unless controlled by the AI.

As a result playing defense is an extreme challenge. The new controls (Tactical Defending) are taking time to adjust to because you are required to be a finger ninja in order to maintain defensive pressure. Press RB to ask for pressure from a teammate, press A to defend a player, hold LT to sprint, and oh, don’t forget your thumb stick. It’s tough. Scoring is proving a challenge and I think I need to learn to use the new Precision Dribbling. Oh, that’s the LB button, I think.

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I played a head to head game which was a blast as when you have TWO people struggling to learn the controls and playing defense like a team of 4th graders, it’s A: funny and B: nice to get some breathing room when in possession.

FIFA Ultimate Team is annoying – as much as I like the EA card side game in NHL, here games appear to me limited to 6-minute halves which in a soccer game is just dumb. Playing on Pro? Good luck scoring ANYTHING with 6-minute halves as the default. I hope I am missing a setting but the game isn’t letting me change the time setting in that mode.

I haven’t touched career or played online but so far I REALLY like what EA is trying to do here and the physics is noticeably better than FIFA 11, I just wonder if I’m simply no longer gamepad efficient enough to get what I should out of this game.

Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

9 thoughts to “FIFA 12 Weekend Thoughts”

  1. I picked this up earlier today, really looking forward to digging into it…unfortunately, due to a business trip next week and a little upcoming car racing game that I’m going to be reviewing at Gameshark, I probably won’t get to really feel it out for a couple of weeks. When it will be competing with Dark Souls and like, every other game coming out for the next two months. Good thing this is one of my “keeper” titles.

    I’m very much a casual soccer fan (i.e. I watched all of the World Cup, I can easily identify Rooney, and I know all about both Pele and Maradona) but I’ve always loved the FIFA series going back to ’97. A lot of the more discreet simulation-y aspects have never been that important to me so long as it captures the feel of a match and provides enough strategic and tactical options…I am a little worried that this one might tilt the pointer more towards complexity for complexity’s sake…and I’m too proud to use casual controls or play on the lower difficulties. It always seems like the CPU is either too hard or too easy.

    I skipped ’11 in favor of the World Cup edition, which I really enjoyed. Glad to hear that there are some substantial changes though.

  2. I hate that feeling in FIFA games when you lose the ball on the opponent’s half and you can feel it in the air as the AI sets itself up for a goal with very little you can do in order to stop it. Depending on how close the match is to being over I find myself intentionally committing blatant fouls in order to break their pace. Sure it might get one of my guys kicked out of the field but at least it’ll prevent the other team from scoring…

    I like hearing about the inclusion of sliders; they’re a very welcome addition.
    I feel that, especially in sports and racing games, being able to set the game’s difficulty to a spot I’m comfortable with and then slowly creeping it up as I get better at the game increases my enjoyment much more than going through the huge jumps in difficulty of preset difficulty levels.

  3. I’ve been playing the demo a bit and am still struggling to get ahold of the new system. I like that the new tactical defending system slows down the pace of the game, but when you’re AI teammates won’t make any off-the-ball moves in the final third of the pitch, it’s pretty frustrating. Also the CPU is extremely efficient at passing and retaining possession. I found sometimes the most efficient way to defend is to not do anything. If you contain too much the CPU will literally run the ball all the way across into the other half of the pitch. Tackling is really hard so you’re best off only using it in very, very clear tackling situations.

    Football Manager 2011 was on sale on Steam for $10 as the 2012 version is coming out soon and I grabbed that. I’m wondering if there is room in my life for both FIFA 12 and Football Manager.

  4. Little upcoming car racing game? You’re not reviewing Forza 4 by any chance? That should make interesting reading.

    Also, can you still identify post-hair-transplant Rooney?

  5. No, it’s a remake of the old Commodore 64 game Pitstop.

    Not really, it’s Forza 4. I did GT5 for us last year and I really liked it (rather more than a lot of critics). Very interested to see what Turn 10 is bringing to the table this time. Lime green 1970 Challenger, here I come!

    As for Rooney…it’s the ears, not the hair!

  6. Hey, they could call it Pitstop II! No, wait… I’ll certainly be interested to read your thoughts (I’m trying to avoid the ‘R’ word, it’s too loaded) on Forza though. GT5′s an ongoing love-hate for me, so much that’s nearly great, so much that’s really bad.

    And I’ve been too busy laughing at Rooney’s new rug this season to have even noticed his ears recently. It’s the only consolation I have when he’s scoring so many.

  7. Yeah…love hate…that’s pretty much how I feel about it after almost a year of playing. There are things that are just ridiculously great about it- I _love_ the very directorial, very personal feel to it. It’s a very, very specific vision and PD completely sticks to their guns in it. It’s got this crazy, almost fetishisic quality to it, but at the end of the day it’s really a car ownership simulator first and foremost, a racing simulator second.

    I actually traded it in, anticipating Forza 4. Forza is more about the driving, I think, and I’m looking forward to the new cars and some of the new features. I do hope it isn’t quite so…analytical…as 3 was, I think the addition of more Top Gear material will help that a lot. I believe Jeremy Clarkson is your “host” i n the game, I actually think that’s really good that they put a human face in there among all the stark white screens and clean lines.

  8. I eschewed a writing job last night to get in a couple of matches (NY Red Bulls v. DC United and FC Barcelona v. Real Madrid). Damn, it’s good. REALLY good. There’s definitely a more organic, physical feel to the action. The new tactical defense options definitely add some complexity and it is going to take some practice to make the most out of them, but it feels like there’s so many more options to get possession and contain the offense.

    There is kind of a weird AI thing I noticed though…if you’re jockeying with one player and pressuring with another, the AI (at least on Pro) will sometimes do this weird thing where they’ll run the ball back all the way to their own goal. Maybe it’s just a fluke, but it did it like three times with me. I was just like “OK…”

    I didn’t score any, but I held DC United to one and Real Madrid to two in eight minute halfs.

    Pretty awesome so far. Also, points for including the Crystal Castles song with Robert Smith.

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