FIFA12: early first impressions

FIFA12 arrived yesterday—Thursday—after I’d gone out for the day. I started playing this morning. What with all the settling-in and menu exploration that goes on (always an enjoyable aspect of a new football game), I only managed to play 5 six-minute matches in Exhibition mode.

I like FIFA12. After I went overboard with FIFA10 and eventually recanted, I’m not going absolutely crazy about FIFA12. Not yet. But I’m ready for more, and looking forward to putting in some serious time over the weekend. Monday’s post will be a lot more in-depth. I can smell a 1500-worder.

I always open a new football game with England vs. Scotland. It’s become my football game calibration tool. I always rely on it to get an early feel for things.

All settings on default. I’m a great believer in playing a new football game out of the box, so to speak. For a little while.

I played all games on Professional. 3 of the 5 were England-Scotland; the remaining 2 were England-Germany. I lost all but one.

TACTICAL DEFENDING: This thing works for me. To defend now, you have to exercise skill and judgement—not just squeeze a few buttons and wait. No more homing-in pressure button. It’ll be a shock going back to PES’s traditional sprint-clamp model after this. I welcome it with open arms. It’s arguably the most innovative development in football gaming since ISS brought in the through-ball. That moved things onto another dimension; so does this. I know that the kids don’t like it. (I’m not laughing. I’m not!)

MAKE YOUR OWN FOOTBALL GAME: I never saw this coming. You can play with various sliders in a back-screen and effectively make your own football game. The passing and shooting values you prefer. You can even alter the heaviness/lightness of touch needed to pass and shoot. That is immense. There’s one galring drawback to this. With all the myriad gameplay settings that can be tweaked, the FIFA12 each individual ends up playing won’t be anything like most other people’s.

GENERAL HANDLING: This is what I’m most concerned with when I’m playing a football game. How does it feel to be in control? What’s the overall sensation of playing it like? Am I being allowed to play—or allowed to play too much? It’s too early for me to judge properly, but I liked what I felt in my 5 matches.

SHOOTING: FIFA12 has finally got it right, it seems to me.

My first goal—another finessed curler, a common type of goal in next-gen FIFA:

Are there negatives about FIFA12? Again this is only after one micro-session of play, but they are:

GAME SPEED: It feels noticeably faster than the demo to me on Normal. I  don’t know if it’s  the extended time I’ve spent recently in playing the PES2012 demo on -2 speed, or what.

ALAN SMITH: This man must have the best agent in the world. A nice guy, no doubt, and a decent CF in his day, but he’s a wet blanket on the commentary team. (That’s not anti-Brummie of me. It’s not!)

DARREN BENT: What is Darren Bent doing in the England team? I bet even Darren Bent wakes up at night asking himself that question.

Overall—after a ridiculously short amount of time, I know—my first FIFA12 impressions are of a great game of football.

Now why is that such a hard thing for some people to accept?

It’s not being disloyal to PES to like FIFA.

I’m not one of those PES fans with that stubborn and irrational belief that FIFA nowadays is all about flashy graphics and fancy tricks. FIFA’s graphics are good but not mind-blowing, and I’ve only ever done tricks by accident.

I’m more than ready to be told that I shouldn’t like FIFA12 for this reason or that reason. No doubt something is lacking in the interstitial animation matrix during the fullback’s overlap double-pop, and that kind of thing.

Oh what jaded epicures we have become!

Much more on Monday.


  1. @ BlueChampion- Thanks for the detailed review, possibly the most in depth I’ve read, in pure gameplay terms. Very good! Never tried swithching the commentary to another language, not a bad idea after hearing Champion waffling on about ‘order of the boot’ for the millionth time.

  2. not-greg i’m just about to start master league. I’ll let you know how it goes

  3. not-Greg, in your FIFA12 writeup next week, I would appreciate if you mention how the FIFA12 demo stacks up against the full game – Is the demo representative of the end product, gameplay wise?

    The PES12 reviews coming in are good, but FIFA12 reviews are consistently slightly better.
    Like you, I’m only committing to one football game this year, so I figure I’d give FIFA12 demo a fair shake before dismissing it out of hand like a PES fanboy. I’m loving the PES12 demo though, so it’ll take alot to topple the status quo! 🙂

  4. BlueChampion—I finished the review, a great job. I was pleased to find somebody else who’s always thought PES’s graphics were perfectly fine. Even on the PS2. Only PES2008(PS3) disappointed me in this regard, and that was entirely due to slowdown and v-sync tearing.

    My only slight disagreement is about the demo goalkeepers (the 1.0 keepers, I suppose). They’re atrocious and I’d be unable to take the game seriously long-term if 1.01 doesn’t improve them. Those constant pat-away are not acceptable at all. They can’t be excused as mistakes. Once every few matches would be realistic. Loads of times per match (every soft shot they face) is way out of proportion. I’ve yet to see the improved 1.01 keepers so I take yours and others’ word for it that they’re much improved.

    Cheers again. I cannot wait for the day when my PS3 hums to the sound of PES2012, er, spinning inside it.

  5. Filbert—after playing WE9LE with Korean commentary, I can confirm a change of commentary language is a breath of fresh air. You end up weirdly attuned to their voices and lines, even if you can’t understand a word of it. Except the WE9LE guy’s almost orgasmic ‘shoooooot!’ whenever a shot is taken.

  6. danny—I look forward to it and don’t worry about spoilers on my account (unless you want to avoid them for others of course).

    Basically, all I want to know is: is it bloody great or what??!!

  7. diego—yes there’s some degree of sulking in the PESverse about FIFA12’s reception in the gaming press. I think the view goes like this: a PES fan who professes a liking for any FIFA game is being disloyal to PES, and implicitly supports the average reviews given to PES2012 by certain websites and magazines.

    Needless to say, I don’t agree with that (and I’m not saying you or anyone in particular holds that specific view).

    Reviews I can take or leave—last year they were similarly rapturous about FIFA11 and faintly dismissive of PES2011, but I disliked FIFA11 a lot and only a few horrific technical niggles (IMO) stopped me loving PES2011. So the reviews are neither here nor there, really, in my opinion.

    I can give you an indicator about the FIFA12 demo vs full game right now. In my current view, if you disliked the demo, you’re unlikely to like the full game.

    My full view won’t be out of the oven for at least another week—I’ll try to cover it on next week’s posts.

  8. “the order of the boot” made me laugh. Every football year there are tons of little phrases that get on your nerves, that’s definitely one of them. I always used to change the language (to Spanish so I could hear Gooooooooool!) but I though last year you couldn’t.
    They say “shooooot” when someone takes a shot here in Japan too. Also a shot from outside the box is met with “middle (or midoru) shoot!” which explains the PES stat from years gone by.

  9. not-greg i’ve played a few hours master league and so far it’s all going great. It seems very similar to last years master league but with some added bells and whistles.

    This year it’s harder to buy players which is somthing im happy with, last year it seemed that most of the big players were too easy to sign. There is also an option to switch off some aspects of last years mode such as as buying new coaching staff and devoting money to fan club and youth development

    Gameplay is still amazing. The keepers are definitely much improved over demo 2. They still do make the occassional blunder but far less then before.

    If i had to make any complaints about the gameplay then i would say that there is still a slight random feeling about the shooting. Often shots will not quite go in the direction you aim but thats a minor complaints. overall its awesome stuff

  10. Hey, not-Greg, I’ve got both games here in the US. PES Master League on the way, and it’s gonna be amazing. I can’t help but buy into the rumor of goalkeepers being improved in the full game (PES), but it’s weird to me as I don’t remember downloading the so-called patch. For now I only care to confirm that keepers are just fine and try to catch more vs. patting. PES is most definitely back and I am truly enjoying it.

    Fifa will definitely get some playing time but mostly online. I am hoping to share my personal reviews on both games independently in the near future only to understand my preferences and not to influence anyone’s opinion, lol.

  11. Grilled Seabass—‘the order of the boot’ is a known phrase to me but I can imagine how baffling it must seem to those younger than 30 or so. Similarly the constant references that football commentators make to ‘Keystone Cops defending’. What do those under 30 make of that reference?

  12. danny—cheers for the update. Master League is what it’s all about. So long as the supporting gameplay is adequate—that’s all I ask! (cf. PES2010)—that’s my year more or less sorted out. If the gameplay is actually great, that’s a bonus.

    I was messing about on the PC last night and found time for a quick go of PES5—the best that PES has ever been in many opinions, including mine. The game is frantic end-to-end action with little or no build-up play from the CPU, and all the same old faults that have been in PES for a decade or more are present in PES5. Including the fact that sometimes the game will seem to disregard your directional shooting and do something else. I can live with PES’s faults as long as they’re not overbearing, like the stumble and step-around etc. in PES2011 came to be for me.

  13. StephWheeler—FIFA12 has made things interesting, to say the least. I’m becoming a big admirer of it, and will say now that it could be the best FIFA since FIFA09. Check out tomorrow’s post, which I think will interest you in particular.

    Please do post your full ‘findings’ as and when they’re available. But please, if you do a PES-FIFA comparison, no football game metaphors! Reading the various reviews and comparison pieces over the last few weeks has been wearying. If I have to read one more time things like ‘PES2012 has come trotting out of the tunnel, fresh from its half-time oranges’, or that FIFA12 has ‘scored a late winner’, or anything like that, I’ll be somewhat cross.

  14. Had an interesting weekend playing FIFA12.
    Put in an extended session on sunday, played a variety of friendlies, a bit of Ultimate Team, played one online match (and yes my opponent DID use the GK select exploit) and I still beat him!

    My findings after about 6hrs solid play is that I really like FIFA12.
    My initial concerns wer over the stale game play due to the fact the AI seemed awful, after more play time I have adapted to how FIFA12 needs to be played and as a result have enjoyed it more and got more from the game.

    FIFA12 really does lend itself to playing patient probing football. try and bomb forward and go from attack to defense in 2 passes and more often than not you will be denied.
    Playing a more patient probing side wways passing and moving game I found that more opportunities open up, although the AI is still not on a level with PES12.

    Started a new career mode, Player Manager.
    Wanted to choose a decent Championship side and see if I could get them promoted in the 2 weeks I have before PES12 lands, so chose Birmingham City.
    Won all 3 pre-season friendlies but have made a less than confident league start, by winning 1 and drawing 4 of my first 6 matches.
    Im playing on professional difficult, and im finding it a real challenge.

    The longevity of career mode is still up in the air but so far I havent encountered any glaring bugs or issues.
    I have though, managed to sign both David Beckham and real Madrid legend Rául for my Birmingham side, both 2 year lucrative contracts in the last years of their careers. Realistic!? maybe not so much.

    The most important point is that Im enjoying FIFA12 and hopefully as a result the next 2 weeks will fly by!

  15. Paul—I feel much the same about FIFA12 right now, as today’s rapturous post will show (with a nice surprise in it for PES fans!).

    As you say, it remains to be seen how Career Mode will last, but I’ve already had a peek—playing three matches with a team whose name you’ll see mentioned in today’s post—and it seems much more polished and coherent.

    With PES2012 now just over a week away, I’m also going to play as much FIFA12 as I can. I think it’s a great game, and with the new defensive system I’m even tempted to play online. I won’t though.

  16. Great to hear you’re having a good time with FIFA. I remember an equally rapturous introduction back in 2010 for it to quickly peter away so it will be interesting to read your thoughts in a month or so.

    DONT play online until EA patch or fix (they have to) the GK select issue. Its awful, it ruins online hence i only played one game.
    Look for ward to a post lunch read of the new thread.

  17. Paul—It was about now—four days after release—that the FIFA10 rot started setting in. I’m alert to the early signs.

    I was never actually going to play online. 😉

  18. The FIFA10 rot… I still haven’t gotten over it yet! FIFA has not crossed my mind, the number of faults in the FIFA10 career mode simply put me off the franchise again… FIFA 10 was the first since FIFA 96 for me and it’ll be the last for a while to come, my fingers still feel burnt…

  19. Pete—I remember it too, which is why it’ll be a long time before I fully hang out the bunting for FIFA12 (and PES2012). I always try to remember that even if I’m having a great time on the game(s)

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