FIFA 12 Hands-On Preview: Career Mode and Player Impact

FIFA 12 aims to bring greater depth to its career mode, while improving realism on the pitch with its player impact engine.

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A wise man once said, "With great power there must also come great responsibility." When it comes to the biggest football game in the world, that responsibility is to the 42 million fans who have made FIFA a huge success for publisher EA. And so in FIFA 12 a glut of new features have been introduced, many of which originated from--or were spurred on by--feedback from the community. An improved career mode, a reworked tactical defending system, and a brand-new player impact engine are all about "fulfilling the desires of our fans"--at least according to producer David Rutter. We spoke to the man himself to answer your questions about the game and get a feel for its new features.

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Much of the emphasis is on FIFA 12's improved career mode, which promises more depth, particularly for managers. Squads have to be managed more effectively, with players getting upset if they're not paid enough--a true-to-life feature--causing their morale to dip and their performance to worsen. Conversely, AI-controlled managers can come in and make offers for your players, raising their morale but ultimately costing you more money. Youth scouting has been overhauled too, so you can discover young players from around the world and train them up. This ties in to an overall set of enhancements to player growth. Younger players develop faster and carry a higher potential than older players, whose performance worsens as they age.

Transfer deadline day has also been tightened up. More activity takes place during the transfer window, which includes increased media activity in the form of newspaper reports, all designed to increase the amount of feedback you receive on your performance as a manager. All the improvements tie in to the new EA Sports Football Club feature, which is an online service that connects players to a single persistent online profile. You pick a side, and matches played online with that side across FIFA games on Facebook, mobile, or console will award you with achievements and a position on a virtual league table.

While the focus is on career mode, additions have also been made to the game on the pitch, including precision dribbling, tactical defending, and a new player impact engine. Improvements to precision dribbling are subtle but give you greater control, letting you shield the ball from the opposition. Less subtle are the tweaks to defending, which take away the "homing missile" effect that players had when going in for tackles, replacing it with more realistic movements, such as grabbing shirts as players race by and coercing them into dangerous positions.

The new player impact engine provides the most change on the pitch. Gone are the days when players would weirdly merge into each other as they fought for the ball, or pass through each other during sprints. A heavy dose of physics means players crash, fall, and trip over each other during a match. It's impressive to see it in action, and during our brief hands-on, the new animations looked great. Players jumped over downed opposition, while push and pull mechanics saw heavier players given the advantage during challenges.

The new player impact engine lets you leap over downed players.
The new player impact engine lets you leap over downed players.

These improvements are just the tip of the iceberg according to Rutter, and there's more yet to be revealed. As for the problems with rage quitting, Rutter promised that more news would be coming soon, along with further details on FIFA's online modes. We'll be keeping a close eye on FIFA in the run up to release, so keep reading GameSpot for more on the game soon.

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