Off the pitch, FIFA 12 is aiming to deliver a complete football experience to really add a much needed level of depth to the career mode. EA are doing this by adding certain features that you'd find in management sims like Football Manager, chief among which is giving the players more personality.
Above: Players will now come to you with problems. If they're not fixed, they'll play worse
Keeping your squad happy is key to a successful season because if they're not in the right frame of mind off the pitch, then they won't be on it. While we couldn't really get a gist of this during our hands on, we're told that some player stats will suffer and make them less effective at passing, shooting and the like. If there's a constant miserable bastard within your squad, then it might make sense to turf them out to make sure they don't bring the rest of the squad down with them.
You'll also have to deal with retirements throughout your career in FIFA 12. Old horses can keep being trotted out forever and inevitably they'll be sent to the glue factory. Old age, rather than injury (but this may change), will be the defining factor and this will force you into a) bringing a reserve team player in or b) reaching into the transfer market to find a replacement. The latter of these two options has had a serious overhaul this year too.
Above: Do you take the risk of another season with the ageing Drogba or cash in on him before he retires?
In a move which is supposed to capture the excitement of Transfer Deadline Day, EA have introduced their very own version. In the January and August transfer windows, the final day will come with a countdown clock until it officially closes and updates about, which players are hoping for specific moves.
You might be sitting tight, thinking your squad is fine but then on the last day you receive a mega-money bid from Manchester City for your best player that is not only tempting but makes said star agitate for a move. If you force him to stay he'll be annoyed, but if you stick to your guns you'll keep your world beaters together to challenge for honours. It's quite the tricky situation.
Above: "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out then, Jens"
Other new stuff in FIFA 12, includes a levelling-up system that will be used throughout the game. Any match you play will reward you with XP and this will unlock, as yet unknown, features. It will also count towards the EA Sports Football Club supporters points. This is an evolution of the supporter mechanism in FIFA 11 and allows you to collect point for your favourite club and take them to the top of an online league against supporters of other clubs. The more you do with your favourite team, the higher you'll climb.
There will be leaderboards in your game to track and compare your goals with people on your friends list. So, for example, you'll be able to see when one of your mates has been promoted or relegated in their career mode. And, more interestingly, it now feels like you can really welly the ball with massive power this time around, which is now less floaty than some of the shots in previous games.
We're still not sure how the finished article will be as there's still some time to tone down certain abilities in the game because last year EA dialled down the incredible dribbling skills from preview to review stage. But as it stands FIFA 12 is a cut above previous outings and feels like a more authentic game of football than ever before.
June 11 2011