FIFA Soccer 12 Review

By Jonathan Deesing - Posted Sep 30, 2011

FIFA 12 represents not only the best FIFA effort to date, but one of the best sports games out there. Precision dribbling and improved physics make for a damn perfect soccer experience. . .almost.

The Pros
  • Complex and responsive buttons for every action possible
  • Insanely realistic physics make for the most realistic sports game on the market
  • Vast career options
The Cons
  • Complex and responsive buttons for every action possible
  • Auto switching between players can be frustrating
  • EA Online Pass is required to play online

FIFA 12 Review:

A single grandmother lives in the other half of my duplex. Ever since I started playing FIFA Soccer 12 with my roommate I have a sneaking suspicion she’s looking for a new place to live. Because everything that makes FIFA 12 so good, at the same time makes it maddeningly frustrating. And when we get mad, we get loud.


How wide do you want your nostrils?

From the jump, one of the most stunning features of FIFA 12 is the sheer number of options you have. I started off by choosing my team from a miles-long list of professional clubs and then creating my own player. The depth of customization was surprising; I could choose the exact nostril length and width of my player (I went with “finger-wide” for convenience).Your team remains your default and you can rack up experience with them to find out online which team has the most loyal fanbase.

Initially you may spend a few hours just trying to figure out which gameplay mode to check out first. Career mode features the ability to be either a manager, player manager or your own custom player. All of these offer different opportunities for soccer geeks to slake their insatiable thirst for more soccer.

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When yelling “goaaaaaaaaaaaaaal” becomes a kneejerk reaction

After spending some serious time fiddling around with all of the campaign offerings, I actually started playing the game. You know, soccer? What makes FIFA 12 stand head and shoulders above other sports games isn’t a bunch of fluff and campaign modes; it’s the Impact Engine. The physics engine new to this year’s game makes a clear distinction from earlier installments top to bottom. Slide tackles look impossibly realistic, and with a little practice your players begin to look like they’re responding to your thoughts, not your fingers.

Unfortunately, this hyper-realism comes with a cost – a steep learning curve. Even long-time fans of the series will initially find the new defending and dribbling mechanics difficult to pick up. These features make the game both delightful and exasperating. You may press a button to head a high ball, but by simply pressing it twice you’ll kick the ball out of bounds on the far side of the pitch. But, just like anyone who memorized Raiden’s fatality in the original Mortal Kombat can tell you, practice makes perfect. A lot of freaking practice.


Another frustrating aspect is the auto-toggle between players. While it usually runs smoothly, more than once I tried to slide tackle just as it switched and my new player ended up slide tackling a grass monster. One of these times was during a particularly heated match and my player ended up getting my roommate a free penalty kick. Needless to say, my poor neighbor learned some fun new words after that goal.

The multiplayer offerings vary from simple exhibition matches to season and tournament matches you can customize with your buddies. For vanilla head-to-head online, the game not only matches you up by your skill but the individual skill of each of your players. So if you’re playing with a piss-poor team you don’t have to worry about getting matched up against Manchester United. Fair warning for anyone planning to pick up FIFA 12 used; you will have to pay for an EA Online Pass if you want to play anything online. EA is apparently really struggling for scratch.


Even becoming a fake soccer star takes practice

Much like any real soccer match, FIFA 12 can have you pulling your hair out at many points. EA Canada has taken a major step forward in creating an even more realistic soccer game by allowing players to control just about every movement each of their players make. While this can be difficult at first to get ahold of, once you have the buttons locked down, FIFA 12 feels about as natural as a soccer game can. The sheer amount of campaign and customization offerings ensures soccer fans will stay busy in between watching their favorite teams on television.