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FIFA Soccer 12 - Wii Review

Game Info
FIFA Soccer 12

Wii | EA | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Classic Controller
Related Game: FIFA Soccer 12 (3DS) 
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24th February 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

There are many gamers out there who avoid sports games completely, echoing the common complaint about these titles being boring to play. Personally, I'm of the disposition that watching sports on television is boring, but thankfully I've been open-minded enough to give a number of realistic sports games a try over the years. There was a time when I was turned off by them, but of course circumstances change and people change. With the effort in certain titles appearing to be supportive of a lazy development cycle, it's unsurprising for a person to begin to tire of the yearly releases, knowing that, in reality, not a whole lot has changed nor will. FIFA Soccer 12 is, shockingly, a unique sports title that combines elements I never thought EA would have anything to do with. In so doing, they have successfully crafted an experience that does more than satisfy hardcore sports fans. FIFA Soccer 12 is one of the very, very few sports titles out there that even caters to those who typically stray away from this genre, with superbly executed gameplay and sights of true innovation.

    To the end of being a truly unconventional experience, FIFA Soccer 12 has players developing and growing a football-centric city, complete with buildings and other noteworthy landmarks. The game has you completing achievement-based Awards to add new landmarks and increase the overall population. Awards are given for blocking shots, scoring goals from a set distance, and generally making good tactical decisions mid-game. The game's innovative city-building component serves as a great backdrop for the core gameplay. Besides the fact that it takes inspirations from a whole other genre of gaming, this system leads to a more positive and encouraging player experience than previously observed. Whether you're playing a quick 10-minute round or engaging in a deeper gameplay session, you're constantly being rewarded for your efforts and can regularly see the benefits of your hard work as you earn money towards the city's pool of money. To see even small victories celebrated certainly helps players feel satisfied over their accomplishments. It's such a great, user-friendly atmosphere that you can't help but admire that EA took a whole different direction this year.

In terms of mode selection, you first have the Intercity Cup, located in the center of the map. This mode takes on greater relevance to the overall city-building theme than some of the other modes, in that you'll be taking on skilled teams from other cities with the goal of speeding up the development of your home location. However, to gain access to this mode, you must meet a couple of entrance requirements, so you'll be spending more time with the other game modes at the start. Other modes include Be a Manager, Streets to Stadiums, Tournament, as well as the quick-to-play Hit the Pitch and Hit the Streets options. In some of these modes, you're given the option of managing your whole team as per standard gameplay mechanics, or you can opt in to the Be a Pro setting and only stick with one character throughout. All in all, FIFA 12 features some surprisingly enjoyable Career campaigns for the single player, which I'll get into more in a bit.

    At the core of the game, you have three different control options for play: Alt-Play (pointer-focused controls), Nunchuk, and Classic. While the Classic Controller takes some getting used to in terms of timing your button presses right and being precise with movements, I quite liked the layout of the Nunchuk control scheme. Alt-Play only works mildly well, and I did have a couple gripes when it came to the responsiveness of the players you were controlling and the more fluid and immediate feedback that the other schemes offer. With the default controls in mind, by holding down the A or B Button during a play, a small gauge will appear to indicate the amount of power you put into your pass or shot. Judging distance can be tricky at times, though. At one point, I tried to do a lob while my active player was at the halfway point on the field, and even though the meter only showed a sliver of green, he ended up kicking the ball out of bounds. In addition to the standard abilities of passing, shooting, slide tackles, and tricks, you also have four different strategies you can employ known as Quick Tactics, which require you to hold the C Button while pressing the appropriate button on the D-Pad. You won't see any on-screen indicators to signify when a strategy is in full force, which is a bit of a shame. Aside from these little things, though, there's a solid level of control here.

Even when you're playing with only one sole character, this is still the case. When you're in this scenario, icons are shown above your head when calling for a pass (short/lob), or to indicate to your teammates that you're open for a shot. The level of control this creates in a team principally controlled by the AI makes players feel really involved, that they can still direct teammates by means of these calls.

    If you've ever felt something was missing in a recent sports title (whether that be of FIFA, Madden, or NHL fame), authenticity in gameplay becomes even more of a grounding point for any future iteration. This is yet another area where FIFA Soccer 12 excels. You can really feel the excitement that comes from scoring goals during Extra Time, the disappointment in missing by a hair during a PK Shootout, and, at times, even the frustration that comes with the competitive atmosphere. It may seem silly to focus on something so insignificant, but the sound effects are also great. Not only when it comes to the sound of the ball being kicked or simply having players run up and down the field, but even when someone gets hit in the face with a ball. All of this definitely adds to the sense of realism that they were going for. It's not something that's immediately evident, especially if you're a beginner and are slowly working your way to improve your grasp on things, but it's a great feeling to see a soccer game portray all of this on-screen and pull players in more easily than past titles that may have been rough around the edges.

Now, getting into some of these individual modes, the management-focused campaign in Be a Manager mode actually works quite well. From the start, you're given the choice of starting from either a low or high point on the corporate ladder, meaning that you'll either be working your way up or having to fight for your spot amongst elite contenders. There's a nice player creation setup that follows with good features to choose from in the customization of your players. From there, you'll set key objectives to build your club's level of Prestige, choose a sponsor, and get introduced to your personal advisor. From the Manager Central menu, you're given medical and training facilities (among other things) whereby you can monitor the ongoing performance of your players. It's all quite robust and it's also a fun change of pace when you get into it.

    Despite their strong focus on realistic gameplay, EA really went out on a limb and broke away from the traditional mold of soccer titles, going so far as to make the game unrealistic in places. This is where the Streets to Stadium mode comes in. Through this secondary Career option, players will essentially take a player under their wing and manage his progress throughout. Differing from the standard mechanics, here you can participate in games of Street Football and gain popularity, but some key systems have been implemented here to make the experience more engaging than simple leaderboard climbs. The first of these is Fame Moments. Before starting a match, you're given three goals to set for yourself in the upcoming game, with one of these being a bonus challenge that automatically appears on your list. You don't have to make any kind of commitment to a goal if you don't want to, but if you do and you fail to accomplish the task within the time provided, then points will be deducted from your overall Fame Level. As you perform these and other actions, an icon will appear above your character in real-time to indicate you've earned some Experience Points.

Besides just this goal-oriented system, this mode is also different from standard methods of play in terms of mechanics. Teams are trimmed down to five players instead of eleven, venues are more compact, and you also have more of an opportunity to do acrobatics, if you will, than in the normal modes. Most importantly, though, Street Football introduces a power-up system that resembles Nintendo's own approach to Mario sports games. These allow you to temporarily increase your speed, shrink the size of the other team, apply a major power boost to your shot, or send a shockwave that will knock out the opposing team (similar to Donkey Kong's special in Mario Strikers Charged). You can also unlock and even combine additional upgrades known as Game Boosters that will give your team an added edge over the competition. This Street component to the game is very enjoyable whether playing on your own or against a friend, and to see EA take this kind of satisfying approach does breathe new life into the traditional formula we see today.

    In spite of the pleasing amount of features and gameplay modes, familiars will be disappointed to see that online play is missing in the Wii version. But that doesn't make this game any less worth a buy. In my honest opinion, this is one of the better sports titles I've played in recent years. Whether you're a devoted fan of the franchise or someone who typically finds sports games unappealing, there is something for everyone. The game as a whole is presented very nicely, and although there are some occasional framerate dips from time to time, they're not nearly as bothersome as the lack of fluidity seen in the handheld version. There's also good, sometimes humorous commentary, and a music selection that's not bad at all, albeit it can get annoying at times.

    The manner in which FIFA Soccer 12 distances itself from other yearly releases by producing significant changes to the formula and structure ultimately make this one of the strongest sports titles in recent years. Featuring innovative game design and gameplay that's satisfying for even non-fans of the series, FIFA 12 comes highly recommended.

25/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 9/10 - Strong level of control, solid gameplay, unconventional approach to the sport, presents unique themes and systems, worthwhile campaigns
Presentation 8/10 - Nice visuals and overall look, surprisingly good commentary, music isn't bad but it can get annoying, occasional framerate dips
Enjoyment 4/5 - Good amount of fun even if you dislike sports games, immersive, Be a Manager and FIFA Streets are especially enjoyable
Extra Content 4/5 - A bunch of different modes to play, constantly being rewarded for your efforts, online play missing

Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

FIFA Soccer 12 (Wii)
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