FIFA12
  [Search]  Search   [Groups]  Back to EA Forum Index  
FIFA 12 Hands On Impressions  XML
FIFA 12  > Xbox 360 & PS3 Discussion
Author Message


GameChanger

Joined: 05/09/2010 22:09:46
Messages: 1332
Location: Devon
Offline

Hands On Impressions
Introduction
I wanted to write the bulk of my thoughts up fairly quickly as I’ve got exams over the next couple of weeks, so I’m getting this out there quite early. Couple of things to get out of the way first: firstly that I want to thank EA, Alistair Reid, who organised the event, and the other members of EA who were involved, incl. Dux0r and Robb who were both present and talkative. The GameChanger programme and these events are precious, and we should grasp these opportunities with both hands. They are an opportunity for both EA and the online community to work together for mutual success: so long may it continue. It was fantastic to finally meet many of the more prominent members of the FIFA community – putting faces to the words and voices: some great and productive conversations (and some less productive ones!).

What I have played is an early build (‘Pre Alpha’), and we had just two teams (Arsenal & Chelsea). The things I experienced may or may not turn out similarly in the full game, but it seems reasonable to expect that things will improve, the game will be polished and a lot of the more blatant issues will probably be eradicated. This is primarily a critique, and thus it will probably leave people with a more negative impression than fair: I am focusing on the negatives because those are the things which EA need to take heed of.

I thought it would be interesting to count against the thread I made over Christmas, The Enemies of FIFA [http://forum.ea.com/uk/posts/list/161833.page], to see how many of the things had been touched, improved, or solved. Out of the 26 topics I can make a reasonable judgement of, I found 15 of them relatively unchanged, 6 improved, and 4 solved. It’s fair to say due to this that I’m not overwhelmed. There are a number of issues in FIFA 11 which are seriously damaging, but are nearly identical in this early build to what they were. In particular, the AI, passing, and movement are still affected by many of the same problems they were in FIFA 11. At this stage they are just as gamebreaking as they were before.

Tactical Defending
If I had to name the part of the game I’m most happy with, it has to be the way defending now works. I say that with a number of reservations, but this is a massive improvement, from a really horrid system which I believed should be torn out, to one which can certainly be built upon into a really great defensive system. To make the system work so that you actually have to tell it to tackle is gamechanging. There is no automated tackling (though players will still try to get the ball to an extent if you run directly into someone), and the automated system which the ‘press’ function has been replaced by (contain) cannot be used to tackle. It alters the game to one where the attacker is attacking, and the defender defending: you have more time on the ball, and breaking down attacks via intelligent defending and positioning is now the key rather than gung * charges. How does it work? Well, there has been a little bit of a shuffle. A/X activates the contain function (and moving the left analogue stick allows you to raise and lower the distance you are tracking the player by), and B/O will tackle. Secondary press has been replaced by Secondary Contain, and this is on now on the previously vacant RB/R1 button. From a casual perspective I fear this may be quite hard to swallow immediately – it took us all a fair while to get used to holding A, letting go of A, pressing B, and so on: it doesn’t feel quite as intuitive as many of FIFA’s features often are. It’s important I think that this feature is just right, hitting the realism and the accessibility well, so that it doesn’t turn people off: defending like this is much, much more satisfying – and steps must be taken to ensure it’s not going to become a common casual complaint. I do have a few concerns which really surround the inertia/momentum system in the game – firstly that the contain function often looks quite unnatural – the defender mirrors the attacker so perfectly and so quickly. If there is any plausibility for the new system to be exploited it will be through this, utilising the extreme reaction of the CPU to boost defensive capability.

I questioned when seeing the feature announced in the webcast whether it was even necessary, and I am almost convinced now that the contain function is liable to do more harm than good. Quite a few of the people playing around me admitted to barely using the contain function, instead opting to defend using the jockey button alone. The advantages of this to a competent player are obvious: you don’t have to deal with the fiddly letting go of A*, and you can laterally position your player much more wisely than the contain function will. The contain function places the player directly between the goal and ball, whereas you can yourself block off options and passes, force players onto the wrong foot or shepherd them in various directions using jockeying instead.

I can understand why EA may want to replace ‘press’ with something, but, at the moment it hits neither the usefulness for the experienced players, or the accessibility for the casual players which it needs to hit the right balance. The only reason I can see to use it right now, is to exploit its unreal reactions.

*example: Consider a situation where you are ‘containing’ a player who is close to you, when the attacker then pushes the ball directly at you. As you are holding A, your player will move away exactly as the attacker is moving towards you. Situations which should be nearly certain tackles become really awkward if too reliant on contain.

Movement
Momentum and inertia as a whole are still ominously missing. It is hard to say much more than that really: it affects EVERY single part of this game – and until it's sorted, this game is always going to be behind its main competitor (and reality) in a very important sense. The whole way football works is governed under real world physics, and reaction speeds – being able to subvert these is so often what makes FIFA an inadequate simulation. Whether it is making defending properly too hard, or making defending improperly too easy*, making dribbling too free, but making it really hard to get past, and away from a defender, it’s making it impossible to do so many things you see game in game out in real football. It’s something which affects every turn for every player, on the ball or not, which affects every touch, and every trap. The fact it is still missing in FIFA is absolutely ruinous to its flow, and how natural it feels.

*Defending against an attacker who can defy momentum makes for a very hard to predict job. Being able to consider where an attacker is likely to go next (or where he can easily go next) is important to being able to break down an attack; when players can run and turn with such ease, which does not come across. However, it helps a lot when you screw up, allowing defenders to turn very fast and start catching up really fast.

Little has changed in terms of players touch either, it is still all too common to see players managing ridiculous feats of control, things which only the absolute crème de le crème can achieve occasionally when it comes to trapping. When quite a lot of the hardcore have been crying out for more constraint on movement, it seems to once again (at least so far) been ignored by EA.

Fatigue and stamina are equally untouched, still being a thoroughly ineffective way of penalising sprinting around like a headless chicken. The self injuries which will occasionally occur when you’ve run a player into the ground are nice, but so far it’s another year of basically no penalty for sprinting around too much, and another year where (at least on a single mach basis) there is little reason to substitute on fresher legs instead of keeping on the better player.

Precision Dribbling
EA have been talking up their new precision dribbling mechanic, which allows players to take a lot closer control when it seems contextually useful. This works as you’d expect – allowing you to make small and tight touches. It makes the region around the area easier to play in. This allows good dribblers to be more effective, something which has been called for time after time – to represent great dribbling with less need for tricks, ala Messi. Unfortunately though, because the inertia model is poor, it still isn’t feeling quite right in the sense of how you beat a defender. It still doesn’t allow the quick and fluid drop of the shoulder that PES does so well – it’s still not a case of feinting and timing the perfect moment to use a burst of pace – rather using lots of tight, quick turns to pull a defender inside out. It combines with skilled dribbling well, though I think a bit of polish still needs to be applied for the transitions in and out of skilled/precision dribbles.

Passing
Passing too seems to have taken a backseat this year. Pro Passing last year left FIFA’s passing in a limbo state, somewhere between the farce of Pro Passing and passing that would match up to the real world experience – it’s difficult to mention anything which has changed at all with passing. Simple passes are still lethargic (in particular in manual where the charge up is still sluggish, and length still madly unpredictable), and complicated passes still well within the realms of possibility. There is a lack of snappiness to simple passes – it makes it hard to play reasonable one touch football with short low angled passes. It is however barely any more difficult to pull off the 180 degree passes which I presumed Vision AI was meant to solve. It has to be questioned whether EA actually intended vision AI to affect humans, because, in my hours of playtime with FIFA 12 not once did I find it really changing the way I played, and from watching people play with all ranges of assistance, it was still almost inevitable for the spin-passes to come off.

The issues with Pro Passing that I had before still remain: error is always in terms of ‘slowness’, over hitting a pass never happens and you rarely feel a pass missed because it was too hard, rather just because the game picked the pass poorly. That leads me onto my primary criticism of assisted in the current game: the AI which chooses where the pass goes is awful. It still feels like a constraining force on good football – lateral passing is an absolute nightmare because it still loves to randomly put the ball in front or behind of a player when you’re looking for a direct pass*. I thought it was clear with FIFA 11 that the control settings and passing were still frequent, but perhaps EA feel that with Pro Passing their job was done. Not so: assisted, like the contain function, is useless for good football and primarily good because it is unrealistic. Manual has not been altered at all: making lengthy passes with manual is almost impossible due to the ridiculous charge up time, and EA have made no moves to make manual less awkward to use^.

*This is not error: making passes up and down the pitch still feel pinpoint, but it is vitally uninventive and unpredictable when it comes to making passes which you want to be direct. It seems to be constantly second guessing you: this is a side-effect of the assisted pass only really taking your input as to who to pass to.

^Like, for example, differentiating the direct pass and through pass buttons so one does short passes and one long, or fixing the erratic pass weighting when you do first-time passes, volleyed passes and so forth.

Impact Engine
The other major feature EA have advertised is the impact engine – a more organic collision physics engine which radically advances the systems capabilities. The best way to describe this as it was in the play test is that it has lots of potential, but some quite big kinks. This is the kind of stuff which I am pretty certain will be improved lots before release – but at the moment the collisions do have a tendency to be a bit over the top. More worryingly there are a lot of refereeing errors and also a lot of rather glitch looking collisions, as well as too many off the ball collisions*. At the moment it would be nearly gamebreaking, but I think by release it’s likely to be showing off its potential without so many of the warts. A lot of people have made the incorrect assumption that its reach will be aesthetic, but given the way that they can now properly calculate for injuries, and the fact that players have tackle avoidance and resilience built into them, it actually does mean something in terms of game play. It is critical that EA work on the bugs, and do something to prevent the annoying off-the-ball collisions which would be better not included.

*Players seem to have far too many off the ball tussles. As opposed to just passing by each other or lightly jostling, full on collisions are occurring between players with nothing to fight for. Like this I’d be concerned that it would be easy to exploit this on Clubs by running non-ball carriers into defenders to clear paths, which would of course be both ridiculous and disastrous.

AI
As for AI, little has changed, My defensive lines were still wrecking themselves constantly – randomly deciding (completely independent of my team, tactics, or what I did) to move forward or back of the defensive line leaving holes, or playing men onside for no reason. The number of occasions I found one CB twenty yards behind the rest of the line was ridiculous: it does not feel at this stage that any major change has been made. It’s something you can work around but it’s astoundingly poor for a game which has received as many accolades as FIFA to be tactically so weak. Attacking AI is little better: it’s not offering passing support well, nor is it making incisive runs. It still feels very sluggish when it comes to pushing into attack or pulling back to defend – it’s still common to see cases when the midfield is just strolling around when they are on the wrong side of the ball, or, when the ball is near the area and they aren’t piling forward. It’s something you can improve with the custom formations and custom tactics, but not enough, and even so it’s preposterous to have a 4-4-2, the bread and butter of football, being as useless in attack and defence as it is now. The tactical depth in FIFA has been pretty inadequate for a long time, and until this is addressed it’s a massive gap which will forever prevent FIFA from being the game for the purist.

As for the CPU AI which you play against, it still seems essentially psychic. While it is much less problematic than last year due to defensive changes, it still feels that it knows what you’re about to do far, far too quickly and reacts to it far, far too quickly. The consensus which I have come to, having talked about this at length with others who were there, is that the AI seems to have knowledge of what you do on the pad before the player actually reacts. The AI needs to feel that it’s reacting (with a human reaction speed of 2 tenths of a second minimum) to the animations, rather than the button presses. The CPU should become aware of a turn as it becomes obvious that the player is turning. It is more possible to play in and up close to the CPU than it was before, but it’s tackling and dribbling skill is still inhuman. It doesn’t feel like I’m playing the same game as the CPU. That isn’t to say that it’s necessarily easier/harder than last year, but that it is still going to be a case of having to deal with the CPU at the things which it is far too good at, and exploiting what it isn’t so good at. I can’t profess to having played a huge amount of FIFA 11 against the computer but it did seem to be more varied in its approach this time around.

Excitement, Shooting, Keepers
One thing FIFA is often criticised for is its lack of excitement in the goal scoring: a lack of variety in terms of goals and a lack of atmosphere are large parts of this. The atmosphere of the game has improved a tad, with the presentation becoming more like the match-day TV presentation. But goals still feel quite predictable. Shooting is still over accurate – they rarely curl or knuckle as smashed shots so often do. More importantly for me, the goalkeepers are far too predictable, still react really fast, and they are so consistent. You can make some fantastic shots, but if they aren’t in the corners they will very rarely go in, even in cases where they should be unstoppable. I’d suggest that the shooting is made less accurate, and more dependent on good positioning*, and that the goalkeepers reactions are toned down considerably (and preferably put more of a weight into anticipatory saves). Goalkeepers still seem a little unintelligent when it comes to dealing with balls coming across them too, very rarely coming out to claim crosses.

*In that a shot when a player has been given a lot of space and isn’t being pressured should be massively more likely to go well. Most long shots in real life are scored when a player is given lots of time: this should be represented better.

Aesthetics...
Graphically the game has improved a tad, the lighting seems much more natural and this does seriously improve things. I also felt that the player faces (at least, those done with the 8-way camera tech) had taken a jump, some looking absolutely life like, like Gael Clichy's. The interface/menu has been revitalised, but the tactics menus which are probably the most in need of change remain as they were. Pre match build up involves 3d models, which is a nice and more appropriate way to see how the kits will appear when you start playing.

There are some nice aesthetic changes in terms of quick throwins, which happen without the game cutting, and drop balls if the referee blows up due to an injury. This stuff improves the authenticity and the atmosphere, but I can't help but feel that the crowd noises deserve more work and would improve the atmosphere so much more. The crowd noises are improved in terms of noise, but there is still none of that sudden excitement and rush when a team are on a breakaway or about to score - the changing of tempo and pitch which characterise watching a football match.

To Conclude...
I suppose in conclusion I’m not exactly overawed with what I played with FIFA 12. If you can tolerate FIFA 11’s problems, then I’m sure they won’t annoy you here either, but those who are disillusioned with the status quo will not be won over without some serious improvements in the next few months. Bugs aside, there are still some gaping design flaws. This is not the definitive football sim, and it can never be when it’s tactical depth is so negligible and when every turn and touch defies physical logic. It isn’t that EA haven’t done some good stuff this year, they have more so than in 09, 10, or 11: Precision dribbling, Vision AI, and tactical defending are all really crucial alterations which implement things that FIFA 11 sorely missed: but these elements do need some tweaking and tuning if they are to hit the mark. It does not meet up to the revolution tag line EA have pushed – there are small areas which are revolutionary – but the game itself is still FIFA, and it still feels like FIFA. That is a good thing in some areas, but in many cases it’s a continuation of poor gameplay mechanics.

FIFA is technically magnificent, but so often misses the basics which make football a beautifully flowing, exciting, atmospheric and strategic sport. FIFA 12 has made some of the necessary steps: if they can build on what I've seen so far, and deal with the problems listed above and below, then FIFA 12 could be great. At the moment though, it's not going to change many people's mind one way or the other.

Priority Changes which need to be addressed

• Defensive AI – simply gamebreaking
• Attacking AI – lacks of variety
• CPU AI Psychic Nature –severely damaging to single player
• Momentum/Inertia/Touch –key issue in FIFA’s lack of realism
• Passing – lethargic when it should be simple, still far too possible to make ridiculous passes

Other Issues

• On-the-ball movement penalty needs to be decreased
• Heading needs to be less of a 1 on 1 event
• Shooting accuracy to be decreased
• Goalkeeper reaction speeds decreased


I will be happy to answer questions/clarify things if asked. I will continue to update the post with things as I think of them

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 02/06/2011 22:37:53



Waterboy

Joined: 10/05/2011 03:04:29
Messages: 14
Offline

Did you notice if any new Chelsea players had improves star heads, Torres, luiz , Ramirez etc. As I was in a previous thread someone said that the did?

Thanks :-)


GameChanger

Joined: 04/06/2010 08:34:20
Messages: 497
Offline

Great write up and everything Xaor, but where the hell is the list of player faces?


Local Club Sub

Joined: 08/09/2010 20:20:30
Messages: 203
Offline

Finally a neutral objective outlook. Feels refreshing after all the (sometimes unnecessary) praise I've seen from other testers.
Neat detailed report, though I have to say, I was already expecting most of the problems or issues left unfixed you named, like the body weight physics, inertia and whatnot.
Good luck for your exams, buddy.


Avoided Relegation

Joined: 27/01/2011 05:30:17
Messages: 1941
Offline

http://www.ea.com/uk/news/player-impact-engine-fifa-12-revolutionary-gameplay?utm_source=ukhomepage&utm_medium=smalltout&utm_content=FIFA12-image&utm_campaign=HomePage


GameChanger

Joined: 05/09/2010 22:09:46
Messages: 1332
Location: Devon
Offline

Liquid Minty wrote:Did you notice if any new Chelsea players had improves star heads, Torres, luiz , Ramirez etc. As I was in a previous thread someone said that the did?

Thanks :-)


I was there when we were going through the faces for that list - it concurs with the ones I was fairly sure were new.


Big Money Transfer
[Avatar]
Joined: 08/09/2010 23:17:18
Messages: 3222
Location: EEUU
Offline

Nice write up. thanks for sharing your thoughts on the game People may thing and some guys here, on the forum, think I'm a troll, anti-FIFA, but that's not true.

The reason I keep criticizing EA and its game is because of their unwillingness to heal FIFA's issues.. just look at the passing, why hasn't this been fixed? why hasn't the shooting been fixed? goalkeepers are still god-like in some areas, and awful at others.

Then we have the AI's stupidity.. not knowing what to do, defender being taken out of position all the time, they don't track off-the ball strikers.

This is why I'm disappointed in EA.. because I was expecting these issues to be sorted out, yet they haven't improved them quite enough. It's not that I'm negative or anything, I'm just calling things by their name.

By the way, congrats on your new status!! I think you deserve it more than anybody else.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 02/06/2011 20:14:25


"Maybe I should try to be a little more humble, but God knows it's hard to be humble when you're Triple H. You see, you can name anyone in this industry and I've beaten them all, and whether anybody likes it, or doesn't likes it: I AM THAT DAMN GOOD!"


National Champion
[Avatar]
Joined: 08/09/2010 16:31:57
Messages: 7369
Location: England
Offline

Aesthetics...
Graphically the game has improved a tad, the lighting seems much more natural and this does seriously improve things. I also felt that the player faces (at least, those done with the 8-way camera tech) had taken a jump, some looking absolutely life like, like Gael Clichy's. The interface/menu has been revitalised, but the tactics menus which are probably the most in need of change remain as they were. Pre match build up involves 3d models, which is a nice and more appropriate way to see how the kits will appear when you start playing.


just a Q on this..

so does this mean we CAN NOT select Shirt, Shorts & Socks seperately???

@Lankz



National Superstar

Joined: 09/09/2010 09:56:01
Messages: 7652
Location: Inbetween two generations...
Offline

Nice post. The most disappointing thing I've seen in there is that the defensive lines still sound as though they're all over the place. What level were you playing on? Of course this is a pre-alpha, so I'm willing to reserve judgement, but I would've hoped the defensive line was sorted out by now. Oh well.


Local Club Hero
[Avatar]
Joined: 11/09/2010 06:05:19
Messages: 424
Offline

Good read. Very nice. Along with the other reads it gives a good impression on the pre-alpha version of FIFA12. I hope EA is able to tweak the things you mentioned, like the GK AI, shots etc.

All by all this is a good reflection for them. Hope they read it and take their lesson out of it

Thanks for the impression.


Park Captain

Joined: 16/09/2010 04:33:57
Messages: 88
Offline

Sad to hear that all of my personal FIFA 11 gamebreakers are still present. And the fact that FIFA 10 was way better in terms of AI, game flow and goal variety makes me mad.

Looking more towards PES now cause they concentrate on AI improvements. But not much hope to be honest




Local Club Sub

Joined: 08/04/2011 06:18:16
Messages: 144
Offline

Do tricks vary each use? Rainbow flick in FIFA11 is different each time you do it, but rulette was always the same - no matter if it was low or high skill player. Something done to stop tricksters and start using tactics?

If it is the truth, but it is unwelcome just delete topic.
If you don't have contrargument just delete topic.

EA sports it's only in your head, "You need to change tactics", Your AI need to be bit improved. Wait, what inteligence?..


Local Club Sub

Joined: 03/09/2010 17:44:39
Messages: 153
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Offline

well done mate,

enjoyed reading that, lets hope they fix everything that you stated, but there is plenty time left, heres hoping


Swish!!

Nothing, but Net!


Waterboy

Joined: 10/05/2011 03:04:29
Messages: 14
Offline

Xaor wrote:
Liquid Minty wrote:Did you notice if any new Chelsea players had improves star heads, Torres, luiz , Ramirez etc. As I was in a previous thread someone said that the did?

Thanks :-)


I was there when we were going through the faces for that list - it concurs with the ones I was fairly sure were new.



Ok cool thanks for that mate, where there any new visual changes you could see to the players .

Thanks


Avoided Relegation
[Avatar]
Joined: 05/05/2011 07:15:40
Messages: 1670
Location: Downtown, Chinatown
Offline

Wow wrote around 28000 words for your original thread the enemies of Fifa and wrote around 3200 words for this thread that is impressive.

You probably put more effort into analyzing the game than EA do making the game.
FIFA 12  > Xbox 360 & PS3 Discussion
Go to: