We must be in for a real treat with FIFA 12 - this is the second time in as many months that I’ve been invited to EA’s offices to give the upcoming footy game a good kicking. And it’s still shaping up to be the most comprehensive version of the beautiful game yet.
A few matches in, and I can really see how the improved collision detection has an impact on a player’s animation. Sometimes, at this early stage, with hilarious consequences as midfielders quite literally flip upside down in a handstand-esque pose when being tackled. Watching two opposing players collide and take each other out shouldn’t be comical, but that’s probably my twisted mind coming into play there.
I managed to sit down with the lead producer for the series, David Rutter, about the new features introduced at E3 - the EA Sports Football Club service and the improved Career Mode - as well as some of the new innovations touted some weeks ago. To answer a question from our very own [David Turner
, commentary-wise we’re getting the vocal talents of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith. No Andy Gray there.
There’s also a bit where David talks of Leicester City beating Manchester United in a league table. Delusional? Read on...
SPOnG: Madden has a DCAM mode that focuses the camera in on the action as if you’re interacting with a real American football match. Would you be looking towards that for FIFA 12, or any future FIFA titles?
We kind of already have one, which is our Pro Camera. That keeps the action in third person behind the player, it’s quite intense and close to the action. But it really depends on the style of interaction that you want with the game. The camera system can be tuned quite a lot.
Our focus has really been on the fundamentals of gameplay - that trinity of innovations that we tried to get in. The Player Impact engine, the tactical defending and precision dribbling stuff. EA Sports Football Club... all the masses of work that we’ve done in Career Mode this year, and whilst presentation and cameras are important, it’s not been as big a focus for us.
SPOnG: How do you think players will react to these new gameplay features? In particular, the self-injury feature?
Self-injuries are not that frequent. When they happen, they tend to be fairly predictable. It’s still a long way from being finished and tuned, but an example is in Arsenal... I played three games using that club on Friday and I think Van Persie injured himself once. And... that kind of makes a certain amount of sense (smiles). We didn’t want it to be predictable, but at least when it happened you felt that it was realistic.
I think our fans will react well to it. It’s not going to be an everyday occurrence and ultimately there are quite a lot of self-injuries in the world of football - we probably won’t have anywhere near the frequency of it [in the game]. Precision dribbling - I don’t think any of the fans are going to have a problem with that. It’s a great system that allows for a great deal of reward and control in the moments that you need it.
The Tactical Defending is going to be the biggest differentiator between FIFA 11
and FIFA 12
in terms of a hardcore experience. Ultimately there is a small period of time where people need to calibrate and get used to that control system, but the rewards that come out of doing that are vastly better than the kind of mindless button-pressing system that we had before.
SPOnG: The Career Mode was first introduced in FIFA 11. What kind of features or elements from that did you seek to really improve upon in FIFA 12?
Yeah, so in FIFA 11
we had the first year of Career Mode as it stood then, and we had kind of homogenised Be A Pro Mode, Manager Mode and the Player Manager Mode into that. Really, what we came up with in that year was a game in which you interacted with the world, but the world didn’t really interact back with you.
So, if you wanted to buy a player, you’d put up a bid and get a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ back. If it was ‘yes’ you’d talk to the player and again get either ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and that was it as far as the interaction with the game went. Lots of fun buying and selling players, but ultimately the universe did not really talk to you.