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A whole new ball game

Product: FIFA 12 | Developer: EA Romania | Format: Android | Genre: Simulation, Sports | Players: 1 | File size: 1.02GB | Version: Europe
FIFA 12 Android, thumbnail 1
It's an overlooked fact in the world of football that when one team starts moving up the league tables others will start to suffer.

With only a limited number of spots available at the top of the table, tabloid tainted 'crises' when the big boys start to slip are an inevitability.

The only way to stave off such a fall from grace, of course, is to keep on moving forward yourself.

Progress - or the illusion of progress - is an art EA has made its own with FIFA 12. The series has rarely been anything but a major force on iPhone, but that hasn't stopped it upping its game ready for the fresh season.

Goals galore

EA's ambition is clear even from the game's menu screens, adorned with 'EA Trax' like FIFA 12's bigger brothers on consoles, but sporting what's arguably a greater array of features.

Of most note is FIFA 12's accommodation for cross iPhone-iPad play.

Get your hands on two iPhones equipped with EA's Gamepad app, and – for the full experience – an HDMI cable to connect your iPad to your television, and you can play out multiplayer matches on the big screen, with your iPhones acting as control pads.

Few will ever make use of the feature, but it's a fitting testament to the attitude evident in every cell of FIFA 12's being: EA has set out to deliver the most accurate, flowing take on the game to date, on any format.

And it's come fairly close to achieving it.

Pass and groove

Making the biggest impression during gameplay is the way FIFA 12's players move around the pitch – both those you're in control of and those seeking to block your path to the goal.

The options available to you off the ball are particularly well-balanced.

Sat right in the middle of the three pads on the right of the screen is a 'sprint tackle' button – an intuitive option that, when held down, will cause your nearest player to head straight for the man in possession before launching a targeted, but usually safe, play for the ball.

Cleverly, said player will wait for the best moment to make his slide, rather than ploughing in and earning the referee's scorn. That doesn't make winning the ball back easy, however: if you don't position yourself well to make the tackle in the first place, you won't make it.

This forces both sides' hands. Whatever difficulty you play at, employing a sprint tackle or two splits the good sides from bad.

While the former will pass their way out of trouble, causing you to run around like a flock of headless chickens, poor teams simply stand by as you nab possession from them time and again.

A slice of life

It also brings about a change in your own tactics. FIFA 12 is undoubtedly a passing man's game, and the goals that can result – from all angles, and from almost any player on the pitch – are often things of beauty.

Add to this some brilliantly shambolic own goals, several hand ball calls a match, and a series of gesture-based controls that broaden your hand in your team's play, and you've got an idea of just how rounded some of FIFA 12's games feel.

But the run of the ball is only half the story.

Little details throughout constantly lift the whole experience: from unprompted highlights of mid-match action through to on-screen icons pointing out players standing in offside positions, FIFA 12 is the real deal.

It's an overall level of presentation aided by the quality of the commentary that acts as the game's backdrop.

Even Clive Tyldesley's notable detractors will have to admit that he does a more than decent job here, and his commentary – which ties in with the flow of play on the pitch surprisingly well – really grounds matches in a sense of reality.

If it's in the game...

Indeed, as far as those looking to simulate the exploits of their favourite eleven go, it's hard to imagine FIFA 12 being topped this season.

Management mode is full of nods to the real game. Playing a fan favourite to keep those in the stands on your side, for example, is a plausible enough consideration. As is meeting the often fanciful aims of the board: making winning the FA Cup a clause in your contract isn't especially canny, but it's not hard to imagine it happening.

But, at the risk or repeating myself, that's part and parcel of offering up a rounded take on the game.

It's by mixing the frankly flaky side of football with the fun that takes place on the field that, now as ever, enables FIFA 12 to serve up what's always been the franchise's signature - soccer simulation at its slickest.

Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 30 September 2011
Raising the game in terms of its slick and sleek delivery, FIFA 12 stands up to its big billing on the pitch, serving as EA's ultimate attempt on goal to date
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Show: Latest | Oldest
May 2012
Post count:
ThatDude | 16:51 - 20 May 2012
Mar 2012
Post count:
serra | 12:48 - 20 March 2012
good solid game and lots of fun.
sources of improvement: make transfers less clunky on manager mode, play tournaments, allow you to apply for jobs to teams instead of being offered jobs
otherwise, one of my favourite games on iphone!
Mar 2012
Post count:
angrybird | 16:05 - 9 March 2012
i want to see a fe changes1. i want to be able to assign numbers to players. 2. THE SKILL MOVES SUCK MUCH BETTER IN 'REAL FOOTBALL'
Feb 2012
Post count:
jimmyfras | 07:40 - 10 February 2012
i want to be able to create my own player like other platforms
Oct 2011
Post count:
elyorch | 08:48 - 12 October 2011
I won't deny it's a good game, but there are mistakes in the review: it's not an universal app, and the so called "sprint and tackle" button is nothing new, it's in EVERY football game. For example, it's the B button in PES 2012.
Apr 2011
Post count:
NotSpam | 15:15 - 4 October 2011
One of the best on iOS for sure. I JUST HOPE EA can manage to support their products post-launch a lot better?
Oct 2011
Post count:
Badcreature | 09:09 - 1 October 2011
This is the best football game on mobile!
Jan 2010
Post count:
curtisrshideler | 19:52 - 30 September 2011
This is absolutely my new favorite game. It's gameplay is so much better than 11. And they brought back rain in the weather conditions... which pleases me!

The new kits look outstanding. Just wish they would include some previous kits as well, so you could pick what year's team you'd like to look like.

Where I am disappointed is that you can't just play a cup or tournament on it's own. You can when you play through a league, but when it comes to national teams... I guess you're out of luck? I have only been able to find national teams in the quick play option and practice. Is that right?

Anyway, FIFA 12 is a must have for footy fans, as well as anyone looking to get into football. Don't bother with 11. I'm just thankful that EA has given it such an improvement in gameplay to go along with the awesome licenses.
Sep 2011
Post count:
Amoo Kurdistani | 14:08 - 30 September 2011
no online mode?
Sep 2011
Post count:
Footieone | 14:08 - 30 September 2011
You have Daily Challenge, Manager Mode, Friendly, Penalty Shootout and Practice ;)
JOIN THE DISCUSSION: 11 comments >>