Coming off of a wonderful year in 2010, with over 51 game awards and over 42 million copies of FIFA 11 sold, it was almost a sure thing that FIFA 12 was going to be impressive and even more ground-breaking. It also doesn't hurt that EA has had unimpressive press briefings at E3 for the past few years, so the anticipation for select titles was heightened.
So what's new in FIFA 12? A whole lot of stuff, including the mission to make FIFA available everywhere. Because soccer is one of the world's most popular sports, EA wanted to connect every gamer to the world's sport and vice versa.
First, a couple of new features to help the game along. We'll start with Tactical Defending, which allows you to not only control when and how you go in for a challenge or tackle, but also control where your body is in relation to the ball to make sure you are always goalside on defense. There was an issue in FIFA 11 where you sometimes just couldn't get in the right position to make a play on the ball, even though last year's game was miles (or kilometers) ahead of the year before it. Along with that came Precision Dribbling. Tired of taking a touch too far forward and the defense immediately takes it? This year you can control exactly where and how hard each touch on the ball will be, so you can remain more in control and slip past defenders with ease just like the pros. The last enhancement added was the Player Impact Engine. Gone are the canned animations regardless of how a tackle appeared, but the good news is that they didn't go straight to rag-doll physics. Instead, a patented EA system will allow players to react realistically to where contact is made, which will allow for less arcade style playing and more accurate response. Soccer (football) is all about "feeling" the game, and these enhancements truly make you feel like you're in the game.
There is one more thing that perfectly connects every FIFA fan in the 2012 version, though. Want to know what it is? We have the scoop after the break.
The big thing this year for FIFA is the EA Sports Football Club. Similar to NHL's EA Sports Hockey League, the EASFC puts you right inside the game and makes you feel like you're a part of something bigger.
You can select your favorite team and defend it with pride as EASFC is a live service that will allow you to socially connect and compete with not only your friends, but with every FIFA player worldwide. New challenges and storylines will be added in weekly that will reflect the teams' real-life counterparts. You can then complete those challenges, gain experience points and progression, and then move up in a local and worldwide leaderboard. The game makes you want to keep playing to try and get better and beat the tougher objectives.
The best part about this is that the service is going to be completely free. Yes, you'll still need you EA Pass, but if you've decided to stop supporting GameStop and their awful tactics, your fresh copy of FIFA 12 will already come with the Pass in tow.
Last year's conference seemed like it was all about open sandboxes and interactivity wit the console, but this year seems like it's all about leaderboards, progression and connectivity. To me, it feels like FIFA 12 has taken the lead as far as making the service worthwhile, interesting and properly priced.