4 Reviews

FIFA 12

FIFA flashbacks...

FIFA fans who are old enough to remember when Tony Adams was still bossing the Arsenal and England back four will probably guess how this review is going to play out.

When a console reaches its twilight years yet remains popular, EA will continue to release their annual footy title on said console, but with ever diminishing returns for the player. Essentially you get the same game released each year with just the cosmetic updates of the new season's leagues, squads and shirts.

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

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This happened with FIFA on PS1 and GameCube, it happened on PS2 and yes, you guessed it, now it's happening on Wii. Very little of note has changed since FIFA 11 aside from a new feature called FIFA City, more of which shortly. The game modes are the same, the gameplay is the same and the visuals are the same. It's the curse of the yearly update and no mistake.

CITIES OF GOAL
So let's talk about the new bit, FIFA City. It sounds horrific, right? Anyone who's familiar with the inner workings of FIFA and the conduct of its head man, Sepp Blatter, are no doubt imagining a game mode that requires you to build your headquarters in a tax haven before employing all manner of dubious practices while governing the world game.

Fortunately this isn't the case. You give your city a name, choose the name of the team that plays there, then you have to grow the city's population and its footballing facilities by completing challenges that are scattered throughout FIFA 12's different game modes. The physical representation of your city sits on the main menu page.

There are 100 awards to seek out and complete (there's a list to refer to) and they range from simple stuff, such as scoring with a header, to acquiring a highly rated player in the Be A Manager mode. Every time you tick off one of these challenges the population of your city increases and its facilities improve. For example, when you buy a team bus for your club in Be A Manager mode, a bus station will appear in your city. It really is that exciting.

Once you've ticked off enough challenges you'll be granted five players for your team, which you can then enter in the 'Intercity Cup' street football tournament where you can play against rival fictional cities. Yet more challenges give you more players, 11-a-side tournaments to compete in and so on.

Now, we quite like this whole FIFA City idea. It's nice to have tangible, physical rewards for achieving the goals that the game sets, and it's also a great hook as it makes you work your way through all the game modes on offer. However, it really is only window dressing and it can't hide the fact that the rest of the game is pretty much near identical to FIFA 11.

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Unlike last year, when we recommended a purchase based on the then-new Streets To Stadium (Be A Pro) mode, FIFA City doesn't stand up on its own as a reason to buy this outing. There's just not enough meat to it.

So, for those of you who bought FIFA 11, you're faced with the age-old conundrum of whether to buy the new season's game for all the squad/player/shirt updates. Can you cope without seeing Norwich City in the Premiership? Is life unbearable unless Aguero's up front for Man City? Only you can answer that.

A CHANGE OF SEASONS
So, is it worth it? In a word, yes. In addition to the FIFA City thing there's loads to do. In Streets To Stadiums you take a single player and progress him from five-a-side street soccer vagabond to international superstar. It's a very nicely balanced mode with loads of sundry challenges. It's a similar story in the Be A Manager mode, but obviously there's a team focus rather than a solo one.

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