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FIFA 12

FIFA 12 review: Does it make an Impact?

There are some fans that simply don't care if EA's made big changes in the latest instalment, FIFA 12.

They're so engrossed in the series' winning gameplay they're bound to feel the smallest tweaks every year like a boot to the noggin in a fiery half-time team talk. They'll notice every animation, every flake of weight added or removed from the ball, every tweak to Messi's sprint speed. Change the brand of paint used to touch-up the centre spot and they'll sniff the difference in seconds.

Thinking ahead? Read our most-wanted list of FIFA 13 features - and give us your own.

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This year you won't have to be a soccer-sim sensei to recognise FIFA 12 has changed. EA Sports has implemented game-changing features in key areas of the park that make for an altogether more tactical, charismatic experience.

Instead of building on top of FIFA 11 the EA team has taken steps in different directions - in some cases, ones we weren't expecting - to change the overall feel of the franchise.

There's still that incredible fluidity of play, the incredibly detailed level of animation. FIFA still surprises you with goals you've never seen before, it still takes full advantage of exclusive licenses to provide the most authentic football experience bar the real deal.

But when you're off the ball you'll discover a more physical, thoughtful and authentic defensive game that forces even the most veteran FIFA champs to rethink their game plan entirely. EA's been brave, and FIFA 12 is most definitely one of its most significant updates yet...

Good Engine
Aesthetically FIFA 12 doesn't look like it's changed an awful lot. Start up your first game and, apart from an attempt at presentation that resembles a TV broadcast highlight reel, everything looks very similar.

The default camera angle is a little lower in the stands this year, there's a slight improvement as far as lighting is concerned and player likeness has been given the annual increase over last year's effort (for the top players at least).

The idle passer by, then, might give a "More of the same" roll of the eyes, but for the man in the boots the changes that have been made by EA Sports are significant.

The overriding feeling is that FIFA is weightier and heavier and, while a fraction of that is down to slightly slower sprint speeds (although we're not talking FIFA 08 here) the biggest contributor is the clever physics based collision detection.

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It's essentially a more sophisticated version of the ragdoll model you can find in something like the Skate series. Where in previous FIFA titles a slide or standing tackle would activate a handful of canned animations - we've all fallen victim to the feeble leg up from behind - now there are no animations so to speak. Instead players' body parts react to collisions depending on the position, direction and force of the impact.

What it means is that glancing off a defender's shoulder will cause your body to twist, putting you off course. Similarly a sliding tackle might miss the ball but catch your back leg, again messing up your stride. Colliding with a teammate in the box also comes with more detriment as well; you're more likely to hit the deck than simply jog on the spot until they get out of the way.

It means that there's more to think about for both attackers and defenders.

As an attacker, unless you're Kevin Davies or Didier Drogba (yes they are similar), trying to muscle through a cluster of defenders is probably a bad idea. Not only do you have to protect the ball from poking feet as per usual, but you have to think about all the shoulders that are going to knock you about.

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