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The time has come. The wait is over. Soccer fans worldwide are losing sleep, growing beards, missing work, and ignoring significant others. Why? Because the worlds most popular soccer video game, FIFA 12 has finally made it into our homes and the result couldn’t be better.

With the entrance of this video game behemoth into my life (and the lives of millions of other soccer lovers across the world) it’s officially time to put everything else on hold. So before you head out and snag a copy for yourself, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth your hard-earned money to splurge on EA Sports newest title. Well, is it? Yes. Definitely yes.

Getting Started
As soon as you get the game up and running, you immediately are shown a tutorial on the new ins and outs of defending. You definitely notice that EA has attempted to make defending as intricate as attacking has become over the years. With the tried and true method of just running right at an attacker to snare the ball officially becoming obsolete, true defenders will need to spend hours and hours to become proficient at stopping attacks. The first several games you play, especially if you play against a decent team, the new defending controls will result in you looking foolish from time to time. However, when you start to come to terms with the new defending, it becomes as fulfilling to stop a rampaging Lionel Messi as it would feel to unleash a 35 yard net-buster.

This new defending is yet another massive step (leap, perhaps) towards EA creating as realistic of an experience as possible for people (like me) who will never step out onto a professional level pitch.

Shooting and Ball Control
The next place you enter is the arena, and you begin to put Kaka through his paces and you realize that the ball seems to have a little more “weight” to it and it take a pretty full power bar to send something into the stratosphere this year. What does this mean? It means that when Christiano Ronaldo or Steven Gerrard looks up from thirty yards, the rockets will fly. Expect the long-distance shooting ability become just as important in the game as the tap-ins were in FIFA 11. This will definitely change a lot of stuff online, since the majority of goals in the Pro Club mode last year came from simple tap-ins (and from finesse shot “cheaters”). The Finesse shot has also become more of what a finesse shot truly is. It is designed to allow you to just put a shot on target. Can you still beat keepers with ridiculous looping shots? Yes, but not nearly as much. The online players that played a wide mid and broke inside just to curl one into the top corner will find their jobs much harder this season.

Playing with Friends
What other modes have FIFA introduced? They’ve introduced several modes to allow you to compete online with your friends. Whether you want to just play a quick match against a friend or you want to create a league with a couple of people on your buddy list, FIFA has made it possible. They’ve also created a mode where you can show your allegiance to your favorite club so that the whole world can see it. In EA Sports Football club you choose your favorite team and help them either rise or fall in the table by gaining experience points during your FIFA experience. EA has also put a feature within this that allows fans of all teams to compete. It averages out the experience gained across all of your fans. For example, since Manchester United will have A LOT more supporters than West Brom, it allows the fans of the smaller team to genuinely compete. In fact, during the first day of online play, West Brom was on the top of the table for most of the day. Where were Chelsea and Man U? The bottom half of the table, so number of fans isn’t important, but how those fans earn experience is very important.

Adding Music and Other Features
A lot of FIFA 11 features are still available, including the ability to add music to your game (it isn’t a real home game at Anfield without “You’ll Never Walk Alone” playing), the ability to add created players, teams, and tournaments (although the creation centre has been significantly upgraded), and the rolling scoreboard along the bottom of your screen so that you don’t even have to stop playing to make sure that your team wins their current fixture. We do see some face-lifts on the cleat selection when creating a player and a whole slew of new balls to use when playing in a game. Personally, I was happy to see the new Total90 boot available and the Nike Seitiro looks awesome in the game. You also have all the new kits available (the new kit selection screen makes all of the jerseys look gorgeous) including the always sharp Real Madrid home kit.

Career Mode
As always with FIFA, one of the most important game modes is the career mode. With FIFA 11 having a very stripped down (and often criticized) manager mode, I was very curious to see what 12 had changed to make the experience more immersive for the average player. After I moved the entire U.S. national team onto a lower division team in England with the edit team feature, I began a player/manager career mode. After going through my pre-season games and seeing Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City buying everything in the transfer ticker on my screen, I was ready to get the season underway. Before my first game, I received a message from Landon Donovan telling me that he thought his form was really high and that he believed that I should start him in the upcoming game. After a smooth 3-0 victory and a brace from the “in-form” Donovan, there was a message placed in the “Current News” ticker that was essentially an interview with Landon talking about how I had made the right choice to play him and how he had rewarded my faith in him. With this type of stuff showing itself within the first weeks of my young career mode experience, it has definitely made me look forward to playing this until the dream of FIFA 13 starts to invade my nights.

I also saw farther down on my calendar that I would actually be interviewed by the press, and this is definitely a feature that FIFA has borrowed from its Football Manager franchise and it is definitely adding to the managerial experience in 12.

Manager Mode
As a manager you are also responsible for hiring scouts and creating a youth squad so that your future is as bright as your present. You also have to manage player morale during your career, with lower morale players experiencing a significant form drop. This career mode is definitely the most in depth in years, and it will totally envelop your attention while you play FIFA.

This game has made changes to help create the best possible experience. Messi can’t be shoved off the ball as easily as in the past. Even Ronaldo can’t dance “skill move” style from the half-line into the goal, and it takes real skill to defend anything. Shots can fly in from 35 yards if you create the right space, but you won’t see the finesse shot become used almost like a cheat code. Multiple announcer options give cup games a true sense of occasion, and the commentators will even make statements about transfer rumors that are taking place in your game. The players and equipment looks even more realistic, with Rooney even having his hair plugs!

The game still has things to fix since your virtual pro won’t be getting the call up to international fixtures in your career mode, and the league badge on your team’s arm won’t change if you get relegated or promoted. It also might need to bring back past manager mode options such as the choosing of your sponsor to make the manager mode ever more immersive. The game will always improve with every new edition, so I’m sure EA is already hard at work on creating the next great soccer game.

So why are you still reading this? Get FIFA 12 NOW! This game is as close to perfect as we’ve seen since PES and FIFA started making games. Snag it from Soccerpro.com right now and be playing the world’s game in the highest quality possible before you know it. I would definitely say, without a doubt, that this is the best soccer game to hit the market.

Written by: Andrew McCole, cyberized soccer fanatic, soccerprose.com


About the author: Matthew Wall


I've played soccer since I could walk thanks to my father and love keeping up on all the latest gear and gab. I'm in my twenties, and I'm lucky enough to have found work in search marketing for a leading soccer retailer after completing my M.A. at Georgetown in 2008. My team is Liverpool, and national side is Ireland, but I've also got a passion for GAA and a number of sports. Feel free to give me a shout on Google+


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