FIFA 12 Review: This Game is a Game

Tackling Tackling

But when you’re actually fighting a relegation battle, how does the game play? FIFA’s three highly touted new features this year are improved AI defense, a re-worked physics engine, and true 360-degree dribbling — all three can be considered big successes. Morever, they work in concert to radically transform the way the game is played.

The revamped dribbling technology gives players unprecedented control over their movement with the ball. The ability to navigate tight spaces, shield the ball from opponents, and goad them into lunging the wrong way transforms a game that has historically relied more on accurate passing and aggressive defending.

Good ball movement can still win games, but you’ll have be more selective with your passes. AI defenders in FIFA 11 could often be exploited by preying on their inability to track runners and their tendency to charge quixotically out of position, but these tendencies have both been largely corrected. Now more than ever, a successful goal-scoring move in FIFA 12 resembles its real-life equivalent.

The first time you see two players crash into each other and go down in a heap, you’ll notice the new physics engine in action. EA has spent two years developing a system that models interactions between players in real-time, which has far-reaching consequences. Big players can push small players out of the way. A subtle tug from behind on a charging dribbler can cause him to take a bad touch and lose the ball. Injuries are even realistically modelled — if an opponent’s avatar falls on your Virtual Pro’s knee, he could sustain ligament damage, putting him out of commission for months.

Taken together, these three features revolutionize the way defense is played. Because dribblers are so elusive, defenders are given new tools to stop them. Holding the left trigger causes a defender to “jockey” his opponent, attempting to stay in front of the ball — an old feature that has been beefed up in FIFA 12. A new “tackle” button mapped to B/Circle peforms multiple functions: when you’re in front of a player, you’ll attempt a standing tackle, but if you’re behind him, you’ll engage in some of the above-mentioned subterfuge, grabbing a shoulder in an attempt to throw the dribbler off his game. This can be a risky proposition, and if you hammer the button, you’ll be called for a foul. Regardless of where you’re standing, you’ll often have to risk a standing or slide tackle to steal the ball.

Double teaming the player with the ball has been relegated to the right bumper, which is likely to cause experienced FIFA players some initial confusion. Thanks to the improved AI, however, this ability is less crucial – AI defenders are generally more willing and better positioned to help out than they have been in the past. If you prefer the old controls, FIFA 12 makes it very easy to switch back.

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10 Comments on FIFA 12 Review: This Game is a Game


On September 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm

nice in depth review, thanks!


On October 4, 2011 at 1:07 am

Nice balanced review, even if I did myself find the new controls (based on the demo I played) stiff and erratic compared with Fifa 11. I still am finding it difficult to justify spending full price “updating” my copy of Fifa 11 which I still enjoy.


On October 5, 2011 at 10:46 am

Yes, it is a great game! What’s not great though, is that EA didn’t resolve the on-line cheaters problem!! FIFA12 is an innovation, graphics are better than 11, the playing is more fun, and movements, special movements, ecc., have improved a lot. but don’t play on-line if you have the intention to play an honest game, FIFA11 was and FIFA12 is ALREADY full of on-line cheaters and this is getting really SAD because EA isn’t doing anything about it and doesn’t respond to complaints about this matter… Am I the only one with this problem??? It’s not funny any more, sometimes my players hardly move while the opponents players run like hell, get every ball, the goalie stops everything, ecc, ecc, ecc. EA DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! By the way, I don’t read anything about that in your nice review…

PC Gamer

On October 6, 2011 at 3:52 am

I have not picked up a football game since 3-4 years ago as I just got bored with them. It was great to see that the PC version of this game is a thrill to play. It just feels so good and it’s very addictive too.


On October 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm

THG is right 100% I cant believe how many cheaters theres online, i just dont get it, the only time i cheated in a ga,e ever and for jus a couple of times was when i used to play medal of honor, i just cant undersand how these kids spend time just to find ways to play this way and believe me if after 2 weeks of fifa12 there are players capable pf scoring me 10 goals in 45 minutes without me havng a chance to even touch them or the ball tthere is sometyng wrong for sure, i mean they could be better than me , no doubt but im sorry ive been playing since fifa98 and i cwn definetely tell, buttom line, great game, too many cheaters, EA incapable of blockng the


On November 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Well, we’re about a month later now. Nothing changed, rather worsened. The higher you get up the ranks the more cheaters. If you check the statistics online of the top players, you’ll see that most of them win their games by 3-0. At a certain point I was starting to think something was wrong with my pc or broadband, made a compete new pc (was planning to anyway) with extreme performance, had my provider check and power up my broadband… and… nothing, same , same cheaters, same “I WANT MY MONEY BACK”. Sure, in a certain way it has become fun to try to beat them, but let’s be honest, it’s not exactly fun to be squeezing the game pad trying to get to the ball or outrun an opponent… In some games, over and over again, even before an empty goal, I keep shooting on the post… LOL Jesus EA, you really aren’t able to get these guys out??? Suspend them from online competition games for a few days, then a few weeks, you’ll see, they’ll stop doing it! and please don’t continue answering my complaints saying there are no cheaters, EA admitted in the end, just not capable of doing something about it ( is resetting them to the lowest of levels enough? Is it fair to the beginners that are in that level??? EA, another proof of multinational that cares about their pockets, not about their customers, they know we’ll buy it anyway, year after year… So since they let people cheat, I guess they will let us make illegal copies…??!?!?!


On November 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Really EAQ, this is becoming very annoying, there’s no more fun playing on-line. What’s the use of making the best on-line sports game ever if you can’t take on the cheaters problem????? Money, money, money…


On December 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

What has really changed nothing really same hacking bullssh#t.oh forgot so easy to win pens same crap different number y not listen to what ppl want everyonme buys it and puts money in ya company so surely we should be heard


On February 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

Cheating is so annoying, that I’m only going to pkay online friendlies from now on with people I actually know!

Come on EA, it ruins the game.


On March 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

yeah i have to agree about the cheaters. I just had a game where every time my opponent lost the ball, he’d press the pause button before the game has recognized that I have possession. Obviously this interrupts all the rhythm in my play. I’ve made desperate bad tackles in important games and I know how pissed off you can get when you lose but to go out and use tactics like this is the act of a total . These people need to stop playing because they obviously have no love for the game. My policy now is to not play against people who choose to be R madrid and Barca. Not everyone using these teams is a cheat but I find people who use the slightly lesser teams actually have an appreciation and knowledge for the beautiful game.

all the cheating ’s, they obviously don’t have a girlfriend or anything good to do with their time but come and piss off the rest of us. just so they can make it a little further up the ranks.

You real fifa players keep at it and i look forward to playing a FAIR game of Footie with you all!