Firstly, may I apologise to the regular readers who haven't seen a blog post for a while. It's been a busy few weeks and I've been a little pushed for time, so a couple of regular activities for me – such as the blog and AudioJacks podcast – have had to take a back seat. However, here I am returning to share a few thoughts on Swansea and FIFA 12.
The first thing we must address is the fact that Swansea are in the Premier League. If this news hasn't sunk in for you, seeing the team there in FIFA must be the proof you need! Though in real life this is wonderful, in-game some of the pleasure has gone: the pleasure of taking a smaller team through the divisions to the glory of top flight football! This season Swansea have already booked their place in the greatest league in the world. Where's the fun in that!? A small price to pay I guess. I guess getting into the Champions League will be the aim for manager mode now!
Talking of aims, my current target is to actually win a game. Or even to score a goal. One thing you may agree with if you've had a go: FIFA 12 is hard. This is not a terrible thing for those liking a challenge, but even getting the ball off the opposition seems to be a struggle with the revamped defending system. It's a hard game. Or I'm shit. One of those...
Attacking is also more difficult, though more interesting I must admit. Past editions of the iconic game have seemed a little 'ping-pongy' at times, but FIFA 12 seems to have changed the physics of the game again, meaning you have to work hard for every pass, every shot and every goal. Not delving too far into the physics of it (mainly because I don't understand them), I will conclude goals are harder to come by, but when they do come you may find they are more enjoyable.
So, onto the Swans: the primary reason I am writing this blog.
Before we take to the field, I must mention there is finally a stadium that resembles the Liberty! Though it'll probably be a good few years before the Liberty Stadium is created as it's own special stadium, 'British Modern' has the look of Swansea's home: a generic, concrete, one-tier stadium that does the job. With a simple name change in the settings, it feels just like a Saturday afternoon in Landore – I can almost smell the Tesco Stand.
It seems not much effort has gone into developing the facial detail of the Swansea players, though the general body size, hair cut and skin colour ensures it's not difficult to distinguish who's who on the pitch. From the usual 'tele camera' angle, Dyer looks like Dyer, Williams looks like Williams and Tate looks like Beaker. This makes it easy enough when playing as you know who to pass to for zippy wing play, and who to switch to when making that goal saving slide tackle!
A feature born in FIFA 11 was the post-match player ratings screen, where each individual player was awarded what the computer judged as fair ratings. While the concept is the same on FIFA 12, the CGI avatars of the player's faces have been replaced with an actual photo of the player. In theory this adds realism, though as the picture is relatively small it seems to warp the photos slightly. I've noticed Stephen Caulker looks like Mr Miyagi, while something odd happens to Scott Sinclair's forehead that makes him resemble a Klingon.
All the new signings, as expected, are available to play with (yes, including Bessone!). Even Bodde is injury free, though it seems like cheating if I play him - I'm a stickler for realism.
Commentary is the final point I'll touch on. In one of my first Swansea vs. Cardiff matches I played (Cardiff won 4-0 by the way... sorry) I noticed the commentary team of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith seemed fresher than previous games. The specific commentary they make about the passion of the South Wales derby is nice to hear, instead of the generic old "oh, this will be a good derby match" that could apply to anything. If you get bored of those two, Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend are the other option. Spoilt for choice these days aren't we!
Overall, FIFA 12 will provide me with a lot more game-play than FIFA 11 did, mainly through the challenges it poses. I've yet to have a good go at manager mode, though from what I've seen it will take up the majority of my cold winter evenings. I do feel I may have to change the difficultly level from 'pro' to 'semi-pro' soon, lest I throw my PS3 at the wall in the frustration of not being able to make one successful tackle.
Until next time, happy gaming!