As a way to combat those FIFA players that play the game like relentless, goal scoring terminators, FIFA 12’s online helpings require you to use this new defending gubbins. And do you know what? It makes the online experience far more enjoyable.
Indeed, I’ve spent most of this review complaining about FIFA 12 but online is where it really hits its stride. The changes feel organic here and it creates a level playing field for the time being, well before folk find exploits again.
Best of the new features is the head-to-head league system. You start in the bottom division and have ten games to play against opponents of a similar ability/star rating (you start with a half star rating). Win enough points and you’ll be promoted to the league above, but fail to do so the following season and you could be relegated. It gives your online play more purpose and taps into that deep-seated competitive streak that will see you plugging away for weeks in a quest to reach the top.
Above: Crosses into the box are even deadlier than last year
Another much needed tweak in FIFA 12 is the ability to change formation, tactics and players of your chosen team before you even connect to your opponent. This sees an end to the 35 second panics and inevitably leaving your best player on the bench by accident.
Offline multiplayer is still the business, and reigns supreme at lunchtimes here at GR Towers. It’s all about that human factor and the mistakes people can make that creates such a perfect multiplayer experience and more importantly translates superbly from what you’d see in the Premier League each week.
From long range pile drivers from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo that bring you out of your seat to last ditch murder tackles that are an insta-red but maybe preserve your fragile 1-0 lead because your opposition can’t take free-kicks properly, it’s all here. And with the precision dribbling coming into play, you can now have some real fun jinking past your players with the likes of Messi and Nani. If I were rating it solely on multiplayer it would be a 10, no doubts. But I’m not, and unfortunately there are still faults hungover from past FIFAs.
Back to the solo play, and the career mode has had a cosmetic overhaul. You now have news stories about transfers and injuries that pop up in the main career hub. Players will now come to you with problems like not getting enough game time or that they’re thinking of retiring (*Sniff* goodbye, Giggsy) and there’s a greater emphasis on rotating your squad due to multiple injuries, including off the ball sprains, so it feels a bit more like being a manager. There’s even a Transfer Deadline Day bit where a running total is present on screen of how much has been spent in panic buys. Sadly, it’s lacking depth.
Above: Oddly enough, David Silva, arguably City's best player, always ends up leaving
The news stories quickly become repetitive and the infamous Inbox of dull e-mails still exists to let you know about such things as fixture changes and injuries. The hub is less than inspiring and lacks the excitement of say Madden, NHL or even NBA 2K. It’s just a series of menus to flick through and although the loading times have been taken down a jot, simulating the days to the next match is still lumbering. I found myself checking real-life e-mails and playing iPhone games in-between these bits.
Pro tip: You can only enter negotiations with a potential signing a few times each transfer window. This little 'gem' only came to light after I tried to sign Sneijder for United for slightly less than the asking fee only to be told by the game that I couldn't try for him again yet. He signed for Man City two minutes later.
I’m constantly surprised by the lack of fan service in the career mode from FIFA. I know I’ve been spoilt by Football Manager’s unparalleled depths, but if Sports Interactive can make spreadsheets seem fun then surely EA can. Surely, it must be priority #1 for FIFA 13.