Soccer has become one of the most watched sports here in America. It’s on ESPN, it even has its own subscription based channel for people like myself to follow the games over seas. What has contributed to this sport becoming popular here in America…FIFA of course. EA Sports released their annual soccer sim FIFA 12 recently with some upgrades to gameplay, creation, online and career mode. Will these changes make FIFA Soccer 12 the game to beat or can we expect EA to miss wide right…yes…it happens in soccer too. Here’s our review of FIFA Soccer 12!

FIFA Soccer 12
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Canada
Rating: E – Everyone
Players: (1-7) Offline 2-22 (Online)
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac OS X, Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Vita (2012), Xperia Play, PlayStation Portable, 3DS, iOS

The Good:
Career Mode
This year, Career mode is NO JOKE. After spending a full day trying to manage my team and play through games I realized that I am a halfway decent player-manager that doesn’t know how to manage money well. While you go through career mode as a player manager, you’ll notice how difficult it is to buy a player during the transfer window if they’re apart of your rival’s team. They’ll let you know how much they REALLY want for that player and if you don’t give them that much….you can go screw yourself. I’ve always felt that the FIFA Franchise has had the most in-depth career mode out there, but this year settles it. You will find yourself spending a lot of time in career mode either managing a team or building your future Ronaldo, either way, you have a lot to do once you start this mode.

Online
Online this year has a couple of new things as well. For instance, Head to Head Online Seasons. Even though its ranked matches spun in a new way, but the idea is absolutely new to the series. You play up to 10 matches a season and earn points towards being promoted up a division or being relegated for losing matches. This totally works for me and is better than just going through a regular Ranked match on FIFA, it spices up ranked matches a bit. Online for this mode and other was pretty smooth as well, I didn’t encounter major lag with the moderate firewall setting the game said I had. Also, for the first time FIFA 12 features Online Leagues that support up to 32 Players.

New Player Impact Engine
This new engine named “Player Impact Engine” adds a whole new level of realism to the game. While playing a game, you’ll notice small things like trips and different reactions to tackles. This helps the game a lot, especially when it comes to injuries which is also tied to this new engine. Its something they call “True Injuries” and it will affect the way you manage a team in career mode as well as how you attack with the ball. If you’re wondering why it would affect the way you attack, because you would quite possibly want to avoid as many diving tackles as possible if someone is trying to injure every player on your roster (It can happen).

Defensive A.I.
A.I. this year has stepped up a lot, no more running around a defender and shooting for goal. This A.I. makes you work for it, as it should if you are facing a team with a high-powered defense. I’ve noticed the tactics I used last game just won’t work here and that I’ve had to adapt to the situation more and more each game. Its small things like that which makes FIFA 12 one of the best Soccer sims out.

Creation Centre
When this feature was announced for FIFA 11, I absolutely LOVED the idea of a web-based creation tool. This feature was included after the success of the Team Builder feature they unleashed on NCAA Football fans. This year, its bigger and better. You are now able to USE your CREATED TEAM in the CAREER MODE, the downside to that is that you need to pay for a pack from the FIFA Store to unlock that ability. That aside, they added the function to import logos for your team and sponsors. Player creation has been modified to where you have a couple of new options to play around with. They also added Tournaments to the creation centre that you can download at anytime. Overall, this is one of the best iterations of a creation feature EVER and it can only get better with FIFA 13 and later games.

Graphics
This game looks great, and it should to complement the new features added to the game. Player models have gotten a slight upgrade compared to last year and presentation shines through as well. Even my virtual pro with photo game face looks awesome, just sayin’.

The Bad:
Why Pay For Packs?
I’ve been guilty of purchasing some of these packs after the game has been out for a while and want a way to spice up the game afterward. However, it’s very rare I do that and the fact that I have to pay to unlock certain features on FIFA 12 that should have been made available to be unlocked through gameplay is crazy. For instance, I mentioned earlier you need to buy a pack to unlock the ability to use your Creation Centre team in Career Mode. That’s not the only thing, there are other pack you have to buy to unlock licensed teams for tournament use and packs that are available to unlock more celebrations and position preferences. The cost varies from $0.99 to $1.99 and for the All In One pack its $7.99 which unlocks all Creation Centre content for use.

Passes Go Stray
Something I thought was fixed on FIFA Soccer 11, has made its way back in FIFA Soccer 12. Sometimes a pass will go to another person or get intercepted when you’re trying to pass it to the guy RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. It’s happened more than a few times and cost me games where I should have won by maybe 1 or 2 points. It’s quite an annoyance and hopefully a patch will come out and fix how passing works.

The Bottom Line
All of the shortcomings aside, FIFA 12 is absolutely worth the time and effort. The great additions to this series brings a more realistic approach to the game and with the upgrade of the Creation Centre, it’s going to keep you busy for a while. Speaking of busy for a while, It’s a MUST that you check out the Career Modes and wreck your brain like I have trying to manage a team or building that future hall of famer. FIFA Soccer 12 is this years Best Sports Game, and yes I’m calling it now. Go out and buy this game now, its available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC, as well as some other platforms and will be out for Playstation Vita next year.

This review was based of a Playstation 3 retail copy of the game, sent to the reviewer by EA Sports for our consideration.

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