The FIFA series needs no introduction to football fans, having grown a loyal audience and brought the beautiful game to life on the virtual pitch. Today at EA's E3 2011 presentation, it revealed that 42 million players have played in excess of 1.3 billion games online across platforms, including Facebook, smartphones, PCs, and current-generation consoles.
The presentation was thin on details about this year's version of the game, but it did allude to a reworked tactical defending system, which is significantly more reliant on timing and tactics rather than being in the right place at the right time and putting your body on the line to stop strikes at the goals. Ball precision will also play a more active role in FIFA 12, receiving a spit and polish and allowing players better, more precise dribbling of the ball, as well as improved deft touches for setting up plays.
The game will also include a brand new player impact engine. While FIFA 11 included the chance to jostle for possession, real-world physicality will now play an even larger role in tackles, with injuries incurred by playing in a dangerous way. Momentum will allow you to jump over downed players and continue on your run toward the back of the net with pace as well. Push and pull will be at play, and from the snippet of footage shown, it appears to be similar to previous games, giving players with a weight advantage the chance to knock lighter players off the ball.
Celebrity endorsements from Lil Wayne, Drake, and various international football personalities extolled the publishers adherence to faithfully re-creating the sport, with some even going as far as to suggest that the new game provides real football players with a cheat sheet on the footedness of players and the intricacies of their individual play styles.
FIFA 12 will also benefit from the addition of a new online social feature called EA Sports Football Club, which is a live service that will connect players and provide a single persistent online profile across all devices. Again, though details were scarce, EA did confirm that the company will inject new challenges and storylines into a player's experiences. We're hoping for wrestling-style face-offs.
Players will pick a club side (and we have our fingers crossed for inclusion of national teams to help fuel international rivalries) and swear allegiance to it. Playing matches online will reward players with achievements regardless of whether the matches are being played on a mobile handset, through a Web browser, or on a console from the comfort of your couch. Success will also propel your supported side up the league, with the example we saw, Tottenham Hotspur, powering up the virtual league when its supporters won.
Gameplay footage was few and far between during the presentation, but FIFA 12 appears to keep the same visual styling of the last release, with more work seemingly going on under the hood than at surface level. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to try out the new physicality elements for ourselves once the show starts. Stay tuned to GameSpot's ongoing coverage from E3 2011.