IGN Review of FIFA Soccer 12
Walking down the tunnel, FIFA 12 3DS should be more than confident about its chances. Compared to PES 2011 3D, its main opposition, it's positively bursting with features and gameplay modes. And for those who own the console version of FIFA 12, rest assured the 3DS title isn't a diluted version of the same game. It's been sensitively tailored to suit the platform, and particular features lend themselves perfectly to the console's unique hardware.
But before we delve into the second half of the review, in the manner of any self-respecting pundit who used to be a moderately-talented player, let's have a look at how the game lines up. The staples of the FIFA franchise are present and correct: loads of officially-licensed teams and a glut of leagues and cups to be won, a detailed career mode, street matches (available in the Wii version but not on other systems) and the Be A Pro mode. It's generous for any version of the game, let alone a handheld.
Career mode, as fans of FIFA will know, allows you to sit in the dug-out and delve into the minutiae of running a football club, from overseeing transfers to improving your training facilities. Hire scouts to raise the quality of your squad and recruit medics to improve the turnaround time for injured players. It's a mode always appeals to some more than others, but with the logic not as sophisticated as on the console versions it may prove a disappointment to fans of this feature.
FIFA 12 on the 3DS controls well but moves at a much more sedate tempo than it does on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Even if you hold down the sprint button, there isn't a discernible burst in speed. The upside of the more pedestrian pace is that you can pass the ball in a much more thoughtful way. Think more La Liga than Premier League.
Playing with the 'Pro 3D Close' camera enabled really makes the most of the 3DS screen. With the slider maxed out, it really does put you into the middle of the pitch; you actually have to look into the distance to spot a through-ball, and it really does make the most of the Pro camera position. In contrast, 3D has much less impact if you play using the more popular Tele and Broadcast perspectives.
The implementation of the 3DS's touch screen is less successful on the whole, with the lower touch screen can be used to manipulate the ball in certain instances. For instance, if you get within shooting distance of the opposition's goal, say around 40 yards out, a representation of the open net will appear. Manoeuvre yourself into a shooting position and you can choose to strike the ball with physical buttons or tap the bottom screen to place your shot with added precision. Doing so can be a tad tricky, however, while sprinting into the opposition's half with a clutch of defenders haranguing you. You're more likely to drop the 3DS than see the net ripple.
But there are times when the touch controls makes sense, such as dead ball situations. Set pieces, like free kicks and corners, are a better fit with the touch controls, allowing you to easily place spin and plot the trajectory of the ball. The results are still far from perfect, though. For a more controlled, measured experience, it's advisable to stick with the buttons.
The graphics resemble a polished version of the Wii game. Player likenesses, even the household names, aren't convincing, while less famous players are forged from a limited number of crude templates. The visuals are clean and crisp nevertheless. The animation, however, has an unfortunate habit of slowing down, so players resemble stop-frame motion models rather than elite athletes.
Unfortunately, you can't take the game online. The absence of full online functionality is more than a disappointment. It's strange to say the least, since online play is the undoubted heartbeat of FIFA 12 on the consoles. To make up for this omission, there's local wireless gameplay, which lets you play nearby friends in 11 vs. 11 games and Street matches. But it's not quite the same.
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