In this week’s Backpage, FIFA fan and footy journalist Darren Cross looks at how you can get the most from your FIFA 12 demo experience…
Don’t take this the wrong way, but what are you doing here?
You know the FIFA 12 demo is out now, right?
Actually, I’m genuinely glad you stopped by because – whether you haven’t downloaded it yet or you’re just taking a break after hours of play – there’s plenty to talk about with the demo and, hopefully, this week’s Backpage will help you get the most out of it.
First off, before you go straight into another game of FIFA 12, take the time to watch the tutorials right at the start of the demo. The first couple are very basic – I’m pretty sure you don’t need to be told how to slide tackle – but it’s worth playing through those to get to the final handful. These focus on new features like contain, team-mate contain and push-pull, and you should definitely spend a few minutes trying these out.
They’re there to show you how to make use of these new defensive options, but they also help you – at least in part – to understand what the new defensive system is trying to achieve. We’ll look at this is much greater detail in a future Backpage, but you should hopefully pick up pretty quickly that defending is more about positioning and timing in FIFA 12, rather than the pressure-fest you’re used to in FIFA 11.
Okay, with the tutorials out of the way there are a couple more things to do before you head into a match. Using the new horizontal menu system, move along the different options and go to Xbox Live, then choose any of the options that are selectable. Here you’ll find details of what each of the online game modes offer – useful if you’ve missed any of the announcements over the last month or so.
Done with those? Then select Exhibition match. You have five clubs to choose from – AC Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Man. City and Marseille – and you’ll play three-minute halves at City’s Etihad Stadium – one of this year’s new stadiums. Now I’d recommend NOT playing against Barcelona in your first match. By all means go for it if you’re feeling brave, but they are – quite rightly – the toughest team to take on initially, what with the improvements to CPU AI and the learning curve that we’ve come to expect with any new FIFA. In FIFA 12, that learning curve is particularly steep. Ultimately this makes it a very rewarding game to master, but initially the going can be a bit tough if you’re taking on the CPU on the hardest setting, so give yourself a break for now and choose Marseille – the weakest of the five teams – as your opposition.
Before the game starts you’ll notice the new pre-match presentation, which is designed to be much closer to the kind of thing you’d see when watching a game on TV. No doubt you’ll eventually start skipping this, but give it a watch the first few times – it is pretty cool.
Right, game time. Or is it? As the ref blows for kick-off you’ll be immediately tempted to press start and change the game camera back to something you’re used to.
Don’t do it.
It only takes a couple of games for you to adjust to the different camera angle and height, and once that happens you’ll be able to appreciate how great this year’s game looks and feels, thanks to the changes to the camera. Stick with it.
The next thing that’s going to shock you – and it’s something we’ve looked at here before – is the removal of the press and auto-tackle function. Now, when you hold down A on the Xbox or X on the PS3, your selected player will charge down the ball but – instead of diving in to win it all to easily, like in FIFA 11 – they’ll stop about a metre or so from the ball possessor. It’s a bit like hitting an invisible wall and I think it’s this that makes the steep learning curve I mentioned so, well, steep.
Don’t panic though, and this is the important bit… You WILL get used to it and, crucially, I’m confident you’ll prefer the new defending system once it becomes second nature to you. It’s much more representative of the way a real defender presses an opponent – if they pressed in real life like they do in FIFA 11 then you’d see a lot of defenders getting made to look very stupid – and you’ll really like the way Tactical Defending has removed that feeling of being rushed when you’re in possession.
Once you’re past the initial getting-used-to-defending feeling and heading straight for that press button when you lose the ball no longer becomes automatic, you’ll be able to take defending to the next level – manual jockeying and tackling.
I feel like containing on a button press is basically an auto-jockey function. This is great when you’re just getting used to it, but once you understand how and where to jockey, you’ll probably ditch the contain button and take control manually. That’s a whole new blog on its own, and one we’ll cover soon, so for now stick with the auto-jockey. Remember, while holding contain you can use the left stick to control distance and direction which is exactly what you’ll be doing when manual jockeying, so it’s good practice.
With demo defending covered, it’s time to look at what to do when you have the ball. The big change here is Precision Dribbling, and it really unlocks far more options for you when you’ve got the ball. For a detailed look at how it does that, head here: http://www.ea.com/uk/news/the-backpage-precision-dribbling-explained.
The important thing with respect to the demo here is that you experiment with this new addition as much as you can. You’ll quickly find that you can hold the ball for a little longer, protect it better, more accurately define exactly where you dribble and, perhaps best of all, play in spaces that would simply have been too congested in FIFA 11 – like the very centre of the pitch or on the edge of your opponents’ area.
In case you don’t know this already, you can activate very precise dribbling by holding the LB button on Xbox or L1 on PlayStation. I’m using the Xbox version and I couldn’t spot that written anywhere on the controller screen, so it’s probably worth mentioning here.
With players now better at running with the ball, and the improvements to the way defending works, you’re going to see some pretty awesome clashes as defender and attacker meet, and that’s when you’ll spot what the impact engine does for the game. Notice how more robust or more agile players are able to shake off a knock or regain their balance after being slightly caught in a tackle, and then how the lighter of two players may be sent flying after a 50-50 against a bigger opposition player. It looks great and, if you’re lucky – or unlucky depending on your viewpoint – you may even see True Injuries, another new addition, as a result of a hefty clash or awkward fall.
Finally, when you’re used to all of the above, restart Exhibition mode and see how you get on against some of the other teams. With each new opposition, look out for subtle differences in their style of play like Barça’s quick passing and movement, for example. That’s all down to Pro Player Intelligence and it’s there to make teams feel much more like the real life versions you’re used to seeing on TV.
Okay, done all that? Now for one more thing…
Go and play FIFA 11.
Feels strange doesn’t it? That’s been my excuse lately anyway – I’ve lost far more games of FIFA 11 than I usually do – but it really does feel very different, and it’s a great way to really highlight the new features we’re getting in 12.
The bad news is it means you’re stuck playing 3 minute halves of FIFA 12 for the next couple of weeks, as you will almost certainly find going back to your FIFA 11 game very tough, but the good news is there isn’t long to go until we can all get our hands on the final version – I know I can’t wait.
Thanks for reading,