Product Type: Electronic Arts PS3 games
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Fifa 12 (PS3)
FIFA 12 (PS3)
Member Name: alexandjef
FIFA 12 (PS3)
Date: 07/03/12, updated on 07/03/12 (59 review reads)
Advantages: Rewarding gameplay
Disadvantages: Steep learning curve
So, a couple of months ago my newish found love for football and my spanking new PS3 reached a natural conclusion when I shelled out £35 for a second hand copy of Fifa 12 - raring to get stuck into the football game that, from what I read was the best in the series and had outstanding reviews.
That was a couple of months ago, and I've only just started to score half decent goals, so what happened?
I am pretty new to sports, both in and out of the virtual world. Apart from a brief stint at the gym and the occasional game of badminton, I have in the past stayed pretty far from sports. Recently however, maybe its because I got older but I've got more interested in sports generally and specifically football. Having not played a football game for years I knew I had a lot of catching up to do but I assumed I would just be able to pick up and play FIFA 12. I couldn't have been more wrong, the learning curve of this game is almost vertical - a warning to gamers like me new to FIFA, expect to spend the first month or so extremely frustrated with this game. To be honest, after the first week I was ready to trade it in, its very tough to get to grips with - but thankfully I stuck it out and after a few intense day long sessions I wen't from very bad to just bad - a few weeks later and I've only just managed to win a game on easy. Its that hard. I'm no newbie to gaming, I've played been the proud owner of many gaming console and plowed many hours into them, but so far, I've not come across a learning curve as steep as FIFA 12, and - conversely, I've rarely had such rewarding gaming experience.
This is also a timely place to interject with a heads up for new players on buying this game old Vs second hand.
------New Vs Second Hand-------
Games publishers, and most notibily EA the makers of FIFA 12, are trying to push gamers into buying games new rather than second hand. I can see the logic, but as a consumer its a little frustrating - especially as its a trend really taking off. To do this, many games come with a printed code in the box for DLC (downloadable content) that has a one time use. Buy the game new and get the code, put the code in and get some extras. Sometimes the extras are just fun, but EA take it one step further by having this online code being the gateway to online play. So, if you want to play online you must buy the game new - as if you buy it used chances are the previous owner has used the code and it will no longer work. I wan't to say this is a despicable practice and it for the most part is. The only saving grace being you can buy the code via PSN or Xbox live for about £5 - so players who bought it used can play online. I bought it used and had to buy a code, and considering I paid £35 then £5 to play online it was out of pocket by a few quid as to buy it new is £37. Its worth noting you will struggle to get this game cheap, search online and in second hand shops and you might be lucky and get it for £25, but usually its about £30 at the time of writing, so to be honest its worth getting this new and coughing up the full £37 - so as despicable as EA hold on its customers is, its working. If only the music industry could figure out how to do something similar. As well as this EA encourage heavily being connected with your friends and having an EA account that tracks your play through all FIFA games - so being keen on customer loyalty is something EA make clear from the start.
But anyway, back to the game.
To a new player like me, the options when you start are not only vast but a little confusing. As when I first got it I couldn't go online not all options of play would work, and digging further some options required a further purchase - something I haven't made but friends who play it recommend coughing up the £7.99 to play as part of live seasons. This is a feature EA somewhat shouted about in previous games from what I can gather and rightly so - its a great, if a cheeky idea - in that you can play as part of leagues as they are happening in reality complete with actual transfers and injuries. I have to be honest, I was tempted to buy this when I first got it, but considering I was so bad I decided it would be a bit of a waste - I'm glad I did but its something I'll do in the future.
'Live season' aside, there is a whole host of game modes from the straightforward - 'Tournament' and 'Exhibition' to 'Virtual Pro' and 'Career Mode' - from the off this game should extensive playtime, seeming so opened ended you could play this forever without really reaching a conclusion. There are enough games modes here to keep a varied range of players happy - if you just want a quick one off match, then you can jump right in or if you want to have a full play through of the Barcleys Premiership then that is here too. In fact, lots of tournaments are available to play from here from all the major ones that are household names to the more obscure leagues from around the world. Once you have decided on a game type, its time to pick your teams from the huge selection of teams from around the world - it is in fact a bit mind boggling just how much effort has been put into ensuring the roster is comprehensive. As well as it being comprehensive, they its also very true to life with most of the players looking realistic enough, real life sponsors and very realist skills alocated to the players to match whats happening in reality. FIFA really doing their homework has paid off, if the depth of game types and teams wasn't immersive enough, the realism the lay on take you to that next level.
This is where for new players the fun takes a break and the work starts. The first thing new players will notice is just how complex the controls are, and that they don't always do what you want them to. EA have done this intentionally, for example a shot on goal will not always work out has you plan - with the speed you running, the angle and the player all being deciding factors on how well the kick performs, but also sometimes you just scuff it with no real reason - just like in real life. This idea runs through all the controls and way the gamers interacts with his players - you need to spend a lot of time learning the many, many controls as well as their quirks, what works and what doesn't and how to really nail them - this is weeks and weeks of practice and many frustrating games until you start getting things anything like spot on.
As well as the regular controls, such as shoot, tackle, pass etc, you can do a wide range of more interesting things - and most of these are known as 'skill moves' A skill move is done by pressing the left trigger and then another button of combination of buttons. Again, how well these work and how much use they will be will depend on you learning to do them well, the play being right and the player being suitably skilled - for example a major league star will pull off tricks easier and better than a less skilled lower league player. On top of the 'skill moves', as a player you are provided with more tools to assist you that can be used in a variety of situations - jockeying for example, or tactical defending - again, require learning a combination of moves and what situation these best work in.
All these varied moves and controls add up to make even the simplest game play a challange for a new player, and as I've also read FIFA 12 is a change up control wise from previous FIFA games - older players will have a lot to learn too.
On one hand, having so much to learn and such a steep learning curve is a big turn off - it takes real persistence to get to grips with how this game works. On the other hand, once you do its a real pay off and you see what they are trying to do.
They are trying to make the game as realistic as they can, and it seems they have done that. Once you do get to grips with how this game plays and how to treat the players in certain situations, its very rewarding - I guarantee the first goal you score that actually took you skill and patience rather than just luck you will remember.
As well as the score lines seeming much more realistic (although I have heard of people getting 100's of goals) with scores that wouldn't seem odd in real life, they have nailed the energy and excitement of real football. A recent example, I was playing as Norwich a few weeks after I first got the game and I was starting to really get to grips with it - and although I was losing most games 5-0, I felt I was getting better. A game against an evenly matched Sunderland and I manged two goals in the first half - so the pressure to keep the lead up during the second half was immense. This lead to a great gaming experience where I had to use everything I learned to not concede - and when the whistle went and I won 2-0, my best win to date at the time it was exhilarating. This trend has continued with every game being just as exciting as getting a win is in no way easy, let alone goals with any kind of flair, so when you do get either of those things its great.
I applaud EA for making something realistic, but also balancing that with great game play (once you master it) as this really makes you feel there is always more and more to learn with this game. Rather than feel like a just a computer game you learn to play, it feels like a sport that over time you master - but there will always be someone better out there.
Whilst you play the game something else is also made apparent, the effort they have put into paying as much attention to detail as they can. You'll first get this hearing the commentary, with a really wide variation but they'll also talk about the teams in a realistic way - form of players and even the referee, but as a real nice touch they will talk about your teams previous efforts. So, for example you playing in a league and you lost last week - that might crop up in the commentary. On top of this, the players fall and tumble in a way that sometimes looks too realistic that from a distance it could look like Match Of The Day - and the CPU doesn't play flawlessly, often also making mistake and committing fouls.
After my first couple of hours with this game, I was ready to take it back as I considered it a waste of £35 - I assumed it just wasn't for me and EA have made a game presuming people are not coming to the franchise new - which is true, you get the feel they assume you know what you are doing. The biggest tell of this is how the tutorials only cover the things new to FIFA 12, rather than the basics that would be handy to newcomers to series.
That said, I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. Its become one of those games that while I'm at work not playing it, I'm looking forward to getting stuck into a game when I get home - surely the sign of a great game.
If I could have things my way, then no lock for online play and a beginners tutorial would have made this game flawless.
Summary: A great, rewarding football game that takes commitment.
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