FIFA 12 Gameplay Preview

by on May 20, 2011

In the aftermath of the FIFA 11/PES 11 war, the gaming community is still pretty divided as to which is the better football title. Many people are still true to the FIFA franchise, but PES 11 managed to up the ante and win some of the fans back, maybe even stealing a few from FIFA in the process.

So now we are into a new year and the war is about to recommence as EA Sports have come out swinging. Back in April, the developers held a webcast to show off some of the new gameplay for FIFA 12. Can they win the war and drive PES into the dirt? or will they be sent off for a horrific challenge? Let’s see what they have to offer!

EA Sports have always strived for realism with FIFA, and this year they have gone all out. They said that they are “making a revolution not an evolution” for FIFA 12 by fixing the obvious little problems that the previous title had, but also making some big changes to just about everything. They have created something they call the “Trinity” of gameplay to greatly improve the title, namely Tactical Defending, Impact Engine and Precision Dibbling.

Tactical Defending: There have been some fundamental changes to the defensive gameplay for FIFA 12. In the previous title, you had to hold down a button to make your defender approach the opponent with the ball and put in a conservative tackle. But now, EA Sports have created something they are calling “Contain”. This time when you hold down a button your defender will hold off or jockey away from the opponent but not put in a tackle. Essentially he will automatically track him, but you can change the distance away from the opponent by simple using the left stick. From here on you then can time a tackle to ensure that you win the ball, so by having a little patience and waiting for them to make a mistake or waiting for the right time to strike, you can get a tackle in and win the ball, making the whole defensive aspect a lot more rewarding and very engaging. You can still call in a second player and instead of him charging in, he will also jockey the opponent and also will move into a position to limit his options.

Tactical defending will incorporate the skill of real world defending into FIFA 12 by making you think more about positioning and can potentially create some new and diverse opportunities for both sides.

Precision Dribbling: In FIFA 11 you could obviously dribble but the turning circle of the player was actually quite large. In real football you see players able to dribble the ball within a yard of space. Thankfully for FIFA 12, this has been incorporated and in doing so, it can get you out of some tricky situations, which in turn gives you more time on the ball and gives you more time to think about attacking options which will create for some interesting opportunities. Also with close control you can still dribble whilst shielding the ball. So if you are shielding from one defender and you see another one coming in to tackle, you can potentially dribble away from the pair of them and continue the attack.

To make this work, your player will now have three speeds instead of the two in previous FIFA games. You still have jog and sprint but now there is also control speed. This change of pace will also allow you to precisely dribble the ball where you want it and pull off some fantastic skills to get out of trouble or get past defenders to score, Messi style!

Obviously, not all real world players are immense dribblers and the developers are aware of this. If you have the likes of a strong player like Kevin Davies of Bolton Wanderers, he will use his strength to prevent the defender from obtaining the ball and get a pass away. But for someone like Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United who is a very good dribbler of the ball, he can use his mad skills whilst shielding to get past the defender.

The developers have put in a lot of time and effort into these two parts of the “trinity”, allowing the creation of more chances in the corners of the pitch, or to create some great hold up play as well as buying yourself time on the ball to make decisions, therefore making the entire experience a lot more engaging and more importantly more fun.

Impact Engine: As we all know, FIFA 11’s collision engine was rather flawed. There were lots of irritating stumbles when a tackle went in that rather ruined the experience because they were used to disguise pops. There was also occasions where players arms would clip through one another. This time around however, the developers have created the “Impact Engine” to greatly improve all of this, which they say will build the foundations for new features in future releases. But is it any good?

Looking at the footage, it looks absolutely fantastic and a massive leap forward. The collisions look amazingly realistic, just like you would see in real life and because of this, it allows the game to flow better, so be prepared to see some massive crunching tackles going in. But before you start to worry about people getting silly by chopping legs away and sending your opponent cartwheeling out of the stadium, the developers have made sure that this does not happen. So the once, maybe twice a season horror tackles will be just that, if at all. They have also ensured that you won’t get the repetitive stumbles, as they claim that tackles won’t be the same recurring ones, because it all depends on how hard the defender has gone in. If the defender knocks you slightly, you can shrug it off and carry on, but if he goes in hard you will go down, depending on what angle he came in at.

It’s not just all about tackling though, and should you fire off a shot and milliseconds later you get tackled, you won’t do that silly stumble, but fall over in the way you would expect a player to go down. In essence, the tackling and impacts are exactly are as you expect them to be, with no clipping and popping which has to be said, is what FIFA should be.

Injuries also play a big part in the impact engine, and these are also highly realistic. Should you go for a header and land awkwardly due to a loss of balance, the player will gain an injury accordingly, making twists and sprains possible and more likely. You can also get injuries if your player is tired and stretches for a ball and ends up pulling a hamstring. But all of these injuries can recur if you don’t rest your player adequately, very much like in real life. If you have a big game and your top player hasn’t fully recovered, you run the risk of re-injuring him.

The final part of the gameplay that was talked about was the player A.I. This year they have taken Personality+ to the next level and called it Pro Player Intelligence. As you know, the best players on FIFA 11 were given extra little boosts in their specialisation, so to add to this, the developers have added an extra layer of awareness with regards to their own skills and also towards their team-mates based on whatever situation they find themselves in. For example, If you have Peter Crouch in your team as your be a pro player, a winger will put a cross on his head so he can go for goal or nod it down to someone else. But if you have someone who is shorter in the box, the winger will attempt to pass to someone else and work the ball in another way.

That doesn’t mean if you have Crouch in your team you’ll win all the headers, as the Pro Player Intelligence goes for all players, so if you had the likes of Rio Ferdinand in the defense he will react accordingly and attempt to head the ball away, so your positioning is absolutely key to allow the A.I. winger to get the right ball in for you. All of this has been designed so you feel like you are actually playing with the team and not some dumb computer A.I. and the whole aspect of the games A.I. will balance the Pro Player Intelligence between defender and attacker accordingly.

Another aspect of the A.I is the player vision. Some players have better vision than others, so the likes of Cesc Fabregas who has fantastic vision will see that killer pass a lot quicker than the likes of Ji Sung Park, and in FIFA 12 they have made sure that the players with the best vision as well as passing will be as close to real life as possible with the use of Vision Maps. These are arcs of view that you won’t be able to see but because you know a player in your team has a high vision attribute, you know that when you go for that quick killer pass the ball will get to the intended target, and the quicker that you get the vision attributes up, the larger the Vision Map will grow.

In summary, there are a bucket load of new additions to FIFA 12’s gameplay and it has to be said, it looks very interesting and exciting. It will make you play a more tactical game, instead of the direct way that previous FIFA titles played. The collision detection seems to have been fixed now and the Impact Engine looks very impressive indeed. The fact you can now dribble within a yard of space will make for some fantastic attacking play, and a massive improvement in controlling the defensive side means it is now more about skill and timing, instead of simply holding down a button. The chaps over at EA Sports Canada looks to have done a sterling job with FIFA 12 so far and we are all drooling with anticipation to hear more! Be sure to stay tuned to God is a Geek for further news and developments for FIFA 12!

To hear even more about these new FIFA 12 gameplay features, check out our Pre-Season Friendly, FIFA 12 Podcast here!

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