I'm currently playing through ALL teams from EVERY league in FIFA 11 with a friend and through the countless amounts of games we've already played and enjoyed, we notice the same two problems - the frustrating dribbling and disastrous defensive eff ups. So thank Jeebus, and more importantly EA, for remedying these problems in FIFA 12.
Our previous hands-on experience
touched on the physical changes to FIFA 12's engine, with players now reacting realistically to tackles rather than in a set stock of animations, but I'm here to go in two-footed on some of the other new treats that await in FIFA 12. After all, I managed to cram in 26 games during an extended hands-on session and picked up some need-to-know facts along the way.
Above: Lionel Messi adds 'levitation' to his list of magical footballing skills
Dribbling is devastating
The good news for cack-handed FIFA players is that you no longer have to rely on the right stick twirls and swirls to trick your way past defenders. It's great for mocking opponents but in truth twiddling the stick - unless you're an expert - is like spinning a roulette wheel and hoping the right number drops out. In FIFA 12 you can beat a player with close control and the right player.
Above: OK, it's Andrei Arshavin here but he's almost as devastating on the ball as his team-mate, Samir Nasri
Enter Arsenal's Samir Nasri - destroyer of worlds. Well, not worlds but definitely defences. My instant reaction to the news that the dribbling had been fixed was to give a silent shout and tiny air-punch in celebration. As we only had Arsenal and Chelsea to play with I chose the Gunners because they have more flair players to try out this new control system with. A couple of runs with French international, Nasri, left my opponent with twisted blood as he turns them inside out with close, quick movements. You have far more space thanks to the new defensive system in place (more on this later) which means defenders can be isolated and ripped to bits.
Holding R2 for precise control (I change the default buttons) keeps the ball really close to Sammy's body. Chelsea's Ramires is trying to dispossess him - he can't. He's being made to look a fool and keeps stepping in for tackles and leaving himself off-balance. Finally my frustrated opponent dives in to try and snap Nasri's little legs, but a quick flick of the left stick and he's leapt the danger leg and left the Chelsea midfielder on the floor in his wake. Magic.
The whole system is an evolution of Personality Plus from FIFA 11. PP aims to make key players stand out from the rest of the cloggers by emphasising their individual traits. It's worth mentioning that at preview stage with FIFA 11 there was talk much talk of Iniesta Touch - a phrase coined to describe how the Barcelona midfielder could keep possession in tight situations even against powerhouse defenders such as Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic. The results were incredible, and as David Rutter - FIFA's line producer - admits, it had to be dialled down as it was creating super-players.
Only time will tell whether Samir Nasri will have his winged-heels clipped, but right now it's a welcome treat. EA are planning to drip-feed us with more Personality Plus attributes until the launch in September, but they did give us a taster of how giant players like Peter Crouch will become a real force to reckon with in the air. It's exciting and we can't wait for more of these.
On the next page... injuries, tweeked defending and more