‘FIFA’ brings about phenomenon

Photo Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Annual franchises have the pressure to deliver each year, but “FIFA Soccer 12” triumphs due to its new gameplay improvements and numerous features.

The most impressive gameplay improvement in “FIFA 12” is Tactical Defending. This replaces the old system where your player could launch himself at an opponent with the hope of stealing the ball away from him, and is thus a much more realistic approach. When you start playing the game for the first time, a tutorial quickly explains this new aspect. For veteran players, this change may take some time getting used to, but if done properly, you’ll be able to force mistakes from your opponent.

Tactical Defending isn’t the most desirable part of this year’s game, but it rewards you for being more defensive-minded. Patience is key with Tactical Defending, as tackling is a tool of last resort. From personal experience, I can tell you this; mistime one tackle, and you’ll be left watching your opponent score a goal. “FIFA 12” also gives you the option to switch back to last year’s system, but once you adapt to the new system, you won’t go back.

Another gameplay improvement is the Player Impact Engine. Throughout the entire summer, EA Sports stated that “FIFA 12” would be the most realistic soccer game ever made. After two years of hard work, player collisions are now simulated with pure realism. The collisions react to a player’s mass and velocity and sometimes leads to improbable and funny-looking encounters, but such accidents are rare.

There are some glitches with this new addition, however. The referee’s inability to distinguish a fall from a foul can be annoying at times. Instead of separating those collisions into “foul” or “no foul,” the referee trusts his judgment. This problem isn’t only found in “FIFA 12” – watch any soccer game and you’ll find that it’s a big issue today. After all, how many times do we see a player dive to the ground in order to obtain a call?

The last new gameplay improvement of “FIFA 12” is Precision Dribbling. This subtle addition is arguably the best in this year’s title. This feature allows you to control the ball in small quarters, which proves to be incredibly useful in final minutes of a match. This doesn’t turn each player into a Lionel Messi (unfortunately), but it can buy you an extra yard or two to trigger a shot and score a goal.

In addition to numerous gameplay improvements, there is an abundant amount of new features in “FIFA 12.” Career mode has been revamped with more drama and options, which give managers a more realistic appeal. Additions such as transfer deadline day and the ability to create a youth academy have been added to give the game a modern feel. However, these new additions are laid out in such an uninspiring manner that it can be a fairly plain experience.

The player-only career mode is unfortunately a letdown. The mode hasn’t changed at all from last year apart from the gameplay improvements.

Ultimate Team returns to “FIFA 12” and is now available for launch. This mode enables you to earn, buy, sell and trade players to build your own dream team. You do start with a weak squad, but the more time you invest in playing, the more coins you will earn, enabling you to unlock more players.

EA Sports Football Club is yet another new feature that makes the game even better. It provides players with weekly challenges that awards “experience” for their teams. If EA is able to support this feature all year-round, it can prove to be a great addition.

When it comes to online multiplayer, “FIFA 12” is the same as its predecessor. There are numerous different modes such as “Head-to-Head,” “Head-to-Head Season” and “Pro Clubs.” Head-to-Head is the typical one-on-one game in which each player picks a team to play against their opponent. Head-to-Head Season allows you to challenge your friends to play a full season against you as well as several others. And just like last year, Pro Clubs allows you to create a team by using your own created players.

Lastly, the game’s presentation is slick and splendid. From the team selection screen to the field, the graphics are polished and lighting effects are amazing. Because of their access to official licensing, “FIFA” is unrivaled in terms of authenticity. Teams look the way they should and top players look exactly like themselves. The only area that lacks in graphics is the crowd. When you score a goal, the crowd does cheer, but that’s the only thing they seem able to do. They also all look like they are related when seen in close-up shots.

“FIFA Soccer 12” comes back strong this year with numerous gameplay improvements and new features. The presentation and graphics look great, making “FIFA 12” one of the top sports game of the year.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5