FIFA 12 Review for Xbox 360

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The beautiful game is back.

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9Out of 10
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Forget what you know about FIFA. While EA has been keen to highlight how much of a change this year's game is going to be over the previous iteration, there have quite rightly been some sceptics, confident that it's just marketing speak covering up fairly minor changes. It isn't just marketing. FIFA has changed.

For the first few hours, if not days, FIFA 12 feels wrong. Your brain will struggle to adapt to the new Tactical Defending system and you'll get trounced. "Have EA broken FIFA?" you'll mutter to yourself while on the end of yet another hiding from West Brom, and there'll be many more head-in-hands moments in the matches that follow.

Thankfully, as if out of nowhere, things start to make sense again. You'll have got things sorted both in your mind and your fingers, now having to do things alien to them after years of being groomed by EA Sports' mild evolutions. You'll finally understand (although be nowhere near to mastering) the new jockeying, contain and tackle system, and begin to appreciate how FIFA 12 feels like a new era for the franchise. The naysayers were, thankfully, very wrong. This is the biggest risk EA has taken with FIFA in its long history. Meddling with the established order of things can't have been an easy decision, yet it's paid off big time.

The new way defending is handled in FIFA 12 turns what was, for a lot of players at any rate, a fairly mindless part of the game into an area that requires full concentration and a lot of skill. Whereas in previous FIFA titles you could use the tackle button to home in on the player in possession and then harass them until winning the ball, FIFA 12's default system is built around jockeying and timing. When you hold down your previous favourite tackle button your defender will no longer go in to win the ball - he'll just track the attacker and remain a few feet away. The tricky part is how you then go on to win the ball.

Key to defending is moving from this holding position to a full-on tackle in an attempt to win back the ball. Time your button press badly and the attacker will walk past you as if you're not there or you'll ram into them, committing a foul. Try to tackle conservatively from behind and you'll barge and tug at an attacker, which can prove to be a decent way to hold back (quite literally) a player through on goal, but you've got to be prepared for the consequences should you step over the mark. I've seen numerous red cards and penalties awarded against me. It's also a valid technique to simply push into players, using your defender's superior strength to hustle the attacker off the ball.

Sliding tackles, often neglected by FIFA players, play an important role this year too. With the auto-tackle button now disabled the ability to perfectly time a slide to clear the ball or dispossess an attacker is a skill as important as being able to find the top corner. As expected, the most skilful players are harder to tackle, so simply standing your ground and forcing them sideways proves to be a great tactic and avoids the danger of lunging in and letting them skip past. Against a skilled AI team you'll likely still get schooled on anything higher than semi-pro while you're learning, so bear that in mind if you're a World Class or higher skill-level player on FIFA 11.

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User Comments

FIFAAddiction's Avatar


Great review, will add a link from our blogs. A lot of people unhappy but FIFA has become a game for the more serious players. It will be a learning curve which will help younger and less experienced players learn about football. Defending and now shooting requires an understanding of what you are doing.
There will always be parts of each version which need improvement. More important is how the online experience is this time as 11 wasn't good. However as I said a few times the World Cup version was almost a perfect game and much better online.
Posted 18:43 on 24 September 2011
InvalidUser's Avatar


After E3 I had no excitement at all about a succession to FIFA 11, playing the full game today crazy how things have changed. Looks like my first midnight launch.

Great review. agree with Wido a minus for challenge?, they do kick ass and possession is key, the AI movement is much improved over the demo so far for me.
Posted 17:15 on 24 September 2011
Wido's Avatar


Nice review Tom but "AI above semi-pro is rock hard" ? I disagree with that. You want a challenge, not a game that poses no challenge whatsoever, but I suppose it has to be supporting Tottenham or is it James? :p

Will be getting this but it won't be day one purchase.
Posted 16:55 on 24 September 2011
SexyJams's Avatar


Fantastic review Tom. A genuinely entertaining read.
Posted 13:10 on 24 September 2011
munkee's Avatar


Hmmm, you just made me want to have a go on a football game for the first time in.. i dunno.. ever.
Posted 09:11 on 24 September 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Out of 10
  • Tactical Defending is more authentic
  • Physics are greatly improved
  • Loads of new online functionality
  • AI above semi-pro is rock hard
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 30/09/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , 3DS , PS Vita , iPhone , Wii , PS2 , PSP
Publisher: EA SPORTS
Genre: Sports
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 2,471 574
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