EA haven’t had it so easy over the last year on iOS. With PES making a recovery and First Touch soccer really impressing us, the once kings of the beautiful game have had their work cut out for them. But can FIFA 12 win them back the crown and the cup?
FIFA 11 was good, I enjoyed the much improved passing and commentary, but there seemed to be something missing when it came to tactics and strategy. On a basic level this is fixed in FIFA 12 by EA tinkering with the controls to create a ‘Sprint Tackle’ option. It seems like such a small addition, but it really does make a difference to the game.
Sprint Tackle lets you easily take on the opposing team when they have possession and the AI takes over to determine the best point to take control of the ball. The player’s part in this is to find the right angle and moment to use the feature, determining whether your tackle is successful or not. Though it’s hard to explain on paper, it works far better than last year’s system, which often ended in an illegal tackle and a yellow card on some occasions.
Other changes to the controls show a much greater influence from the touch screen. Swiping can help improve the direction when passing and Free Kicks are now controlled by swiping in different motions to control the speed, strength and curl of a kick. It’s all a welcome addition to the standard virtual control system and shows that EA are thinking about the phone’s features and not just trying to emulate the console versions.
The iPad version of the game has the option to use two iPhones (but sadly not iPod Touch) to control the action, leaving the screen free for the game itself. Even more impressive is the ability to use the HDMI cable to play on your TV (and we’re hoping that the iOS 5 update will also add a wireless option to this).
Graphics have been given a slight overhaul too, with a much better level of detail on players and some impressively detailed stadiums with a lot of background detail, to the point that you can identify individual buildings in the background if you know the stadium. The animation is much more fluid, which makes the game look and feel more realistic.
Commentary will split some gamers, EA have kept Clive Tyldsley and Andy Townsend from last year, but the way that the commentary works and is implemented in to the game stands head and shoulders above any other sports game on iOS. Crowd noises, too, have been improved, with more chants than before. Music is EA’s now standard licenced tracks, which work well enough and it’s nice to have some well known artists providing a bit of background music to get you going during the menus and cut scenes.
The Manager Mode gives you a career-style game where you get to take any team from the 22 leagues. As well as playing there are managerial decisions that range from buying and selling players to playing a popular player for support from fans. There’s a lot to do in Manager Mode and while it’s still not as involved as the console counterparts, it’s a great addition to the game.
One noticeable absence is the Multiplayer. Just like last year, the multiplayer option isn’t there in the initial release; it’s a single player only game. This is a major gripe in a game that was made to be played against friends, but we’re expecting EA to add this at a later date, as they did with FIFA 11. iPad owners who happen to have a couple of iPhones lying around will be able to use these for multiplayer on one system though.
While the lack of multiplayer is disappointing, FIFA 12 is still an impressive game in its own right. The updates from last year and attention to detail make this THE Football game on iOS, especially on the iPad.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 9
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