EA Sports improves on perfection with shining FIFA 12

Somehow, even FC Barcelona seem to improve on near perfection year after year. So does the team at EA Sports with its latest edition of the best-selling soccer video game in the world. And fans who have been eagerly awaiting FIFA 12 will not be disappointed.

For this year’s update on the long-running franchise, there are a few new tweaks that enhance the experience even further. New defensive controls, rewards system and impact engine all give FIFA 12 a leg up over last year’s model without drastically altering what makes it great: the game play.

The first thing that strikes you is the new defensive control scheme, which includes the ability to perform standing or shoulder tackles. This is a great way to force your opponent to give up the ball as long as it doesn’t result in a foul.

Also jockeying your opponent is no longer done for you, as there is no more auto-defense. You must actively make your player, and optionally a second player, cover an opponent. This can seem overwhelming at first, but in the hands of an experienced player, this only adds to the game-playing experience.

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This new penchant for realism doesn’t end with game play, either.

The attention to detail is remarkable. One look at the faded Canadian Football League lines on the BC Place turf and a few seconds of commentator Martin Tyler cooing in your ear about how good it is to have the Vancouver Whitecaps back in business is enough to convince you EA Sports has gone all out.

It conjures images of the words FIFA 12 and “details” underlined and heavily emboldened on a whiteboard in the EA Sports office.

There is also a Youth Academy to scout players, your choice of four different English-language commentators and more than 500 clubs containing 15,000 players.

Add in real headshots of players and a new impact engine that results in lifelike movement of both players and balls and you have a recipe for an altered but not butchered gaming experience. FIFA 12 is full of bells and whistles, but manages to stay true to the solid game play for which the series is known.

It's a must-have for both gamers and soccer fanatics alike.