FIFA 12 Hands-On Preview – Simulation Nation
Written Monday, July 11, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Aside from FIFA 12’s focus on its new physics engine, EA Sports is looking to instil a bit of depth into the franchise’s new career system for this year’s iteration. So, we headed across to EA’s UK base last week to take a glimpse at these new upgrades to the career system, while also getting some more hands-on time with the latest title, and it’s very clear from our sneak peak that EA Sports is working on adding a ton more depth into the career mode to make it a staple in the franchise for many years to come.
Before EA Sports’ Mr FIFA (trademark pending), David Rutter, delved into the new career mode upgrades, he first wanted to touch upon the My Football Club initiative that EA unveiled at this year’s E3. In short, it’s FIFA’s version of Autolog in some respects and gives your results across all modes a meaning. It’s basically a meta-game of sorts that will take your results and performances, combined with your favourite team, and then portray them in a FIFA wide league. With XP, week-long seasons, global and friend leaderboards, a news section, promotions and relegations, and real-world scenarios, it’s very much an integral part of FIFA and could well be something we'll be seeing in FIFAs for years.
The meat of EA Sports’ focus in FIFA 2012 – from a features aspect, anyway – is the newly revamped career mode. In an attempt to create a more personal and in-depth experience, EA has added a ton of simulation-esque aspects to its career mode. This can take the form of various new elements, ranging from the impact that the new ‘true injuries’ gameplay element has introduced, all the way to the new player morale and transfer initiatives.
We saw the true extent of the true injuries and media elements in full flow when Rutter lost Milan midfielder, Mark Van Bommel due to injury. After underperforming without him, the media picking up on this fact, Rutter decided to rush the Dutchman back, which in turn, the media question. One win later and a sublime performance from Van Bommel to boot, and Rutter is lauded by the press for the risky move. It’s a risk vs. reward situation, with it potentially going the other way as well – aggravate the injury or play poorly and lose – so beware.
The career mode also boasts such things as more intelligent season expectations – which is actually revealed in the game’s mid-game commentary – interviews with players to see their expectations, youth scouting, player morale – with players indicating whether they’re happy or even whether they’re retiring at the end of the season – and so on, but it’s the fleshing out of the transfer system that will turn most heads. Notably, transfer deadline day.
As in the real world, the last day of the transfer deadline is an important part of the season. Now boasting increased fidelity and a countdown timer to show how many hours are left, the final day of the window has become a game in itself. With you able to keep an eye on the news feed to see who’s happy/sad/transfer listed, you’re able to keep up to date on all the news on that infamous day – as well as seeing how much money has been spent! It also boasts improved and quicker searching, meaning you can sniff out your next target in an instant; and with things like advice from your Chief Exec, the ability to unsettle unhappy players, see info on who’s happy/sad and now the ability to stall negotiations, you should have the tools at your disposal to really invest some time into the whole transfer malarkey. This works both ways though, with players and opposing teams being more intelligent and aggressive as well. The new career upgrades though in all, according to Rutter, are designed to give you more control over the squad and improve the authenticity. And that they do.
We also got a hands-on with the latest game code and judging on an afternoon of friendlies taking control of Liverpool, Tottenham and Koln, amongst others, we can report that everything is coming together nicely. The physics engine in its current state can affect the game in a number of ways, with crunching tackles particularly more satisfying than ever before, but also with realistic jostling as well. A bit of tweaking is in order we’d guess to refine it before it ships, with players sometimes reacting very unnaturally with one another, but it definitely feels like a meaty addition to the franchise that will play a very positive role.
It’s the simple things that make FIFA 12’s experience feel like the most complete football experience yet, one that you possibly shouldn’t be without… and this is coming from someone is very cynical about the yearly update cycle in such franchises. I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of FIFA’s dribbling system, much preferring PES’ setup over EA Sports’, but FIFA 12 definitely gives you more control over the dribbling aspect, now making it possible to actually run at players and dazzle them with skill. That’s balanced up with the Impact Engine though, meaning that it’s not a matter of Suarez skinning every man on the pitch.
Even simple things like being able to hold position while players run at you make the world of difference – I mean, properly, like making yourself a big target, keeping your eye on the ball and back to goal. For me though, one of the most infuriating things with FIFA in years gone by was having a ball pass inches past your man and you’re just left screaming “Stick out a bloody foot, will you!?” Thankfully, now they can, and it’s just one of many things that will undoubtedly make FIFA 12 one of the best football games since FIFA 96… you know, when you could unreservedly deck the goalkeeper just because you felt like it. With the new career mode looking superbly robust and teetering on the line of becoming a management sim as well, all EA Sports needs to do is refine the physics collision engine and then we really don’t have any grumbles. Even the sluggish menu system from FIFA 11 is no more!
FIFA 12 is scheduled for a September 27th and September 30th release in North America and Europe respectively.