Here’s an interesting fact for you: if you pop along to Xbox.com and view the best selling items on the Marketplace of all time, you will not find the likes of Halo 3 or Modern Warfare in the top spot. Or in second, or even third. The top three spots are locked out by the FIFA franchise, because so many people get the demos when they come out. And now, its that time of the year again when football fans spend ages looking at their download percentage to go past 99%: the demo for FIFA 12 is now available for all on Xbox Live. I’ve had a few hours with the demo, and the following is my conclusions of the latest instalment in the series.
(A quick precursor to this review – there appeared to be a hiccup with actually finishing off the download of the demo; the first time it got to 99% and then claimed it would not download, and upon restarting the download it jumped from 1% up to 97%, before failure hit again. Clichéd though it may be, third time was the charm and it finally downloaded without a hitch. I saw some other complaints earlier on the EA forums, trust me: persevere and it will work)
- The first thing to take stock of is the new layout of the menus and loading screens. Gone are the days of vertical menus; now you have a horizontal menu at the bottom of the screen (split into the various game modes – obviously being a demo, only the Exhibition Match option is available) while Wayne Rooney does various actions in a little clip above in the main part of the screen. Rooney is the default arena player, so whether these little animations are linked to the player you choose for the arena is yet to be known. There are other little touches – when selecting a kit, you actually see a player model from that team, chosen at random, to show off the kit. Similarly, when entering a game, before the teams make their way to the pitch you will see a little animation of a player from your club doing something, from stopovers to shooting. Its artificial stuff sure – but it helps to break away from the very tired model EA have used for the last three years.
- Changes are also evident in the Team Management screens. Whereas before if you clicked on a player it showed their in game face, now you see a picture of the taken from the real world. Individual statistics are also now colour coded (a system that PES has had for years) helping you to distinguish where a player is exceptional –the more green there is, the better. Otherwise, the menus have the same layout to the last two years.
- Enough of the build-up though – how does FIFA 12 play on the pitch? For the demo, you have six teams to pick from: Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille and AC Milan. The game seems to have been built upon the relatively solid foundations laid by FIFA 11, meaning that as far as passing goes, you still have to aim and power it up correctly to get the ball moving. The most immediate change you will note is the new defending system, called Tactical Defending. You get a tutorial to the system when you first boot up the demo, but in game is where it shows….and its bloody hard to get used to. I must admit I am one of those FIFA players who tackles by mindlessly holding the A button all the time, and I found myself getting beaten in the demo a bit too often – leave a gap and the other team will really punish you for it. In my second game, Dortmund where able to rip my Barcelona defence apart and scored three very easy tap ins as a result. The other problem is getting the ball in the first place to attack, as the opposition will very confidently stroke it around while you madly jockey for position. I eventually got a bit more used to the system, but it seems like defending in FIFA 12 is going to be a long term thing to get used to. Or, if you don’t want to bother, you can turn it off and use the defending system used in FIFA 11 – its now called Legacy Defending and has to be selected in the Controller setup menu. Wise move by EA to stick it in there unannounced…
- Considering the high levelled nature of the teams in the demo, I cant really say that I saw the ‘Pro Personality’ system in its true form in my playthrough – I suspect Xavi’s passing will have more potential when compared to that of say, Macclesfield Town. However, you can see the new Impact Engine at work. After a few games of getting used to the new defending malarkey, I made it my mission to hack down as many players as possible in different situations, and no two collisions did look the same. I wasn’t able to cause any injuries, but I would suspect that this system will really come into its own over the course of a season. Good stuff. There are also some new animations implemented away from tackling as crosses can now be done on the byline, and if a player is close to the ball when it goes out of play, they will quickly pick up the ball and take a throw in without the need of cutting away from the game. The game in general also seems much quicker in terms of loading between screens, which can only ever be a good thing.
- To confirm, the player rating that were leaked at GamesCom are indeed the same in the demo. Messi is a 95 and can dance around a defence, while other players have had their stats noticeably boosted. Theo Walcott is a 97 in acceleration, and he can absolutely destroy a defender in a race to the ball.
- It seems that the design wizards at EA Sports have earned their money again, as the players once again have a eerie similarity to their real life counterparts. Just zoom in on Lescott’s face and you can see the attention given to the scar on his head. Rooney also looks much bulkier in the arena than in the last game, so we can live in hope that at least some of the other players in the game will have been given the same care and attention.
And that wraps up my intital thoughts on the FIFA 12 demo. No doubt as players get used to the system we will see some truly brilliant goals and the like, but in the meantime I leave you will some fancy passing I pulled off courtesy of Pato and Imbrahimovic. Enjoy the demo, and good day to you all.
EDIT: It also seems that EA have released the full soundtrack for the game, which I have listed below.
Alex Metric & Steve Angello – Open Your Eyes
All Mankind – Break The Spell
Architecture In Helsinki – Escapee
Bloco Bleque / Gabriel O Pensador – So Tem Jogador
Chase & Status – No Problem
Crystal Castles / Robert Smith – Not In Love
CSS – Hits Me Like A Rock
Cut Copy – Where I’m Going
Digitalism – Circles
DJ Raff- Latino & Proud
El Guincho – Bombay (Fresh Touch Dub Mix)
Empresarios – Sabor Tropical
Foster The People – Call It What You Want
GIVERS – Up Up Up
Glasvegas- The World Is Yours
Graffiti6 – Stare Into The Sun
Grouplove – Colours (Captain Cutz Remix)
Japanese Popstars – Let Go
Kasabian – Switchblade Smiles
La Vida Boheme – El Buen Salvaje
Little Dragon – NightLight
Macaco – Una Sola Voz
Marteria / Yasha – Verstrahlt
Monarchy – The Phoenix Alive (Kris Menace Remix)
Pint Shot Riot – Twisted Soul
Portugal The Man – Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)
Rock Mafia – The Big Bang
Spank Rock – Energy
The Chain Gang Of 1974 – Hold On
The Hives – Thousand Answers
The Medics – City
The Naked & Famous – Punching In A Dream
The Strokes – Machu Picchu
The Ting Tings – Hands
The Vaccines – Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
Thievery Corporation – Stargazer
Tittsworth & Alvin Risk / Maluca -La Campana
TV On The Radio – Will Do
Tying Tiffany – Drownin’