30 settembre 2011
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Fifa 12 is … different. For months, EA Sports has been banging on about its three major changes to the match mechanics: close control, the player impact engine and the new tactical defending option. Turns out they weren't bluffing. After several hours of play, it's the latter that's emerging as the most important transition. As you'll know, the old trick of hitting the A button to send an AI defender hurtling toward the attacking player like an Exocet missile in polyester shorts is now gone. Well sort of. It's a little more complicated than that. In Fifa 12, there's a multi-layered system that now lets you hold the A button to "contain" the man on the ball – it brings the player you're controlling right up to him and you'll automatically attempt to shepherd your opponent into disadvantageous positions. It's neat, it's effective and it allows you to chain into a proper tackle, like a football beat-'em-up. That's pretty much as close as we get to the auto-defend nature of previous Fifa incarnations. Meanwhile, the jockeying function, accessed via the left trigger, allows you to face the incoming player and create a barrier between him and the goal; this can also be combined with the "run" button in order to deal with sprinting opponents. Many Fifa fans will find this forces a radical shift in their defensive philosophy, moving from a mobile approach of darting slides from the back and side and head-on nipping tackles, toward a zonal, more rigorously planned approach, where players get into position and block out attacks, only tackling when the ball is clearly there to be taken. Initially, I struggled to separate the contain and jockey functions – they're both about controlling the incoming player, after all, and for ages they seemed interchangeable. But then there's the "team jockey" option, sitting over on the right tab button. When held, this sends in a teammate to fulfil the more static goal protection, while you either move to cover any possible crosses, or run in and sweep the ball away. The Contain function is more erratic and independent; it's reactive. Ultimately, the two can be combined into a sort of phased approach, in which defensive midfielders hunt down and contain lone attackers while your defensive line uses the two jockeying functions. But however you use it, this is an interesting, adaptive and exhaustive system that shapes the game and gets you to think more about space and movement in your own half. Elsewhere, the updated player physics brings what you expect – a greater sense of physical presence. There's an option on the keypad that allows you to pull and tug at an opponent's shirt, and together with some crunching slide tackles you get a great sense of robust, solid bodies going into high speed collisions and meeting limbs in a realistic way. I was dreading a whole bunch of trips and falls, and indeed there are enough "Fifa 12 physics fail" videos on YouTube (all drawn from demo versions of the game, I guess) to suggest dynamic ragdoll physics is a dangerous substitute to bring on. But then, it's not all about collision, it's about reaction. Watching Silva dink around a stray leg, or Terry desperately lung at a passing ball, is gloriously authentic and exciting. Fifa 12, more than any football title before it, is a living embodiment of the unpredictable game. Outside of the matches themselves, there's an even more exhaustive range of options and extras. The social gaming spin-off Ultimate Team is present in the retail edition of Fifa for the first time, allowing you to start the card-trading fun with free packs (as ever, you'll need to buy new packs to complete your dream team, though). This is probably a smart business decision by EA – it means everyone gets to try it out, and many will bite. Virtual Pro is also there, allowing you to create your own player from scratch, and the usual tournament and live season options are present with timely presentational tweaks. Career Mode is essentially what we remember from Fifa 11, allowing you to experience the career of a player, manager or player manager through a whole lifetime in the game, transferring from one club to another, dabbling in the transfer market and competing for league and cup glory. The interface is more logical now, with masses of info packed into the main screen. And – for managers – the tactical screens have changed, removing the "Player Growth" option, which let you monitor the ratings of your squad members, in favour of two more useful options: squad report and squad ranking, which give a Football Manager-style overview of who is doing their job and who blatantly isn't. The mode is, however, still ever-so-slightly lightweight and I still don't feel I have a way to truly guide and develop younger squad members beyond constantly playing them and hoping for the best. But it's a diverting long-term challenge that gives you a structured chance to play as lesser-known teams and really get to live the game beyond the Premiership and La Liga. It could be, though, that the key challenge will be the new online head-to-head season mode, which lets players compete against each other in league and cup competitions. All participants begin in the lowest league and seasons lasting between 10 and 14 games decide who will be promoted and relegated. It's a smart set-up, which should ensure that newcomers aren't consistently battered by elite gamers – but it will be weeks before we know how reliable and stable the experience is. Beyond all this of course, is the EA Sports Football Club, the new social networking service for Fifa players. Here, friends will be able to compare stats and achievements, while challenging each other to online friendlies. As with Need For Speed's Autolog, this could be the spark that gets mainstream gamers online and competing in broader communities. Again, it's too early to say how this will go, but the infrastructure is in place and the menu system looks logical, offering a news wall, leaderboards and the Challenge option where you get to take on specific football tasks, based on real-life games. But of course, the key to everything is what happens on the pitch. And everything is happening out there. There are some astonishingly accurate depictions of top players, the animations is fluid and expressive, the commentary is authentic, despite (or perhaps because of) a few very regular repetitions. The fact that Alan Smith and co will discuss your team's position in the league and its form over the last few matches, really adds to the sense of occasion. Crossing is still something of a bugbear. Unless you've got Ashley Young running down the flank and a largely absent back four to face, you're 80% certain the ball will be lofted to safety. However, central play has been made more fruitful via the refined close controls on the left trigger that slow your player down and allow him to guard the ball while he picks out a pass. I hardly used any of the close-dribbling options in Fifa 11, but this pace-changing tactic is swiftly becoming a key part of my approach now. I know that some have suggested the whole game is too slow, and compared to the breathless PES 12, it is certainly more … measured. I have no problem with that - it calls for a more of a thoughtful, probing approach. AI seems solid, though often a lot more so from defenders blocking your path than from team mates interpreting your play. I've found on numerous occasions that you'll wait in vain on the edge of the box, your finger poised over the through ball or flair pass buttons just praying for someone to start a run behind the centre backs. Of course, hitting the shoulder tab commands another player to make a run, and this works beautifully in midfield, but personally, I'm just not getting it to play out while close to the 18 yard area. Practice, I suspect, will be the key. More often than not you need to move away or pass back and rebuild the attack. And against computer-controlled teams on the highest AI settings you'll find it incredibly, maddeningly, gut-wrenchingly difficult to score, while they'll sometimes breeze through your best defensive endeavours as though playing in a parallel dimension. Ah, but when things do go right, when that chipped ball into the stride of Edinson Cavani ends up rocketing in the back of the net, it can be euphoric stuff; and you are only ever hours of practise and two or three brilliant passes away from the next dose. Honestly though, the real beauty of the game is in its two-player mode – that's what gets the five stars in the end. I know I'll be playing this all year, mastering new aspects, trying new teams, experimenting with the EA Sports Football Club, watching the online leaderboards. A year's worth of play is good value, and value is important in this day and age. So, yes, here we go again. The annual iteration, the roster update, the accusations of cashing in, cashing up, moving on. Fifa is a symbol now of what the games industry has become – a digital Hollywood, a hit factory, with behemoth franchises, caged in and milked for all they're worth; a grinding production line of choreographed retail launches and endless DLC updates. It used to be just the annual sports titles, now it's everyone. And yet out of this can come a game like Fifa 12. A game that isn't perfect, and that won't suit everyone, but that absolutely reeks of effort, of care, of love for the sport. Blast EA and its peers for the way they run their businesses if you want to, but recognise this: with friends, with practice, with a will to re-think your approach to defence, Fifa is an absolute joy to play.
[PS3_ITA]Fifa12_Fixed.rar [8.94 Gb]
-extract and install with Install Package Files
Working on Kmeaw CFW 3.55.