FIFA 12 E3 Hands On Preview Impressions

As soccer game franchises go, it really is hard to top what EA Sports does with FIFA. Though Winning Eleven (now titled Pro Evolution Soccer) made its run for the crown, that challenge only helped EA realize they needed to step up their game.

Since then, the developer has consistently been evolving the “futbol” experience in order to add immersion and authenticity. At this year’s E3, Game Rant got some hands-on time with FIFA 12 to discover what’s new for this year’s iteration and how it stacks up. For complete details read on.

Despite no great need to evolve, especially considering its soccer dominance, there are a few new features seen in FIFA 12’s gameplay — namely improved precision dribbling, player contact animations, and defensive features. These won’t necessarily blow the lid off the FIFA experience, but when examined closely they work pretty well.

Really, when compared to last year’s iteration, FIFA 12 doesn’t necessarily take any big leaps as far as gameplay features are concerned – the animations look better and being able to jockey to contain an offensive player adds a new level of realism, but the core mechanics remain relatively untouched.

Don’t be mistaken though, this is FIFA through and through, it just lacks the impressive new features that make gamers who pick up a sports title every blue moon interested. Things like player personalities — knowing a player like Kaka favors this type of play versus another play — were also hard to notice because it’s all being crunched by the game’s engine, not demonstrated on screen.

Still there is one feature coming to FIFA 12 that soccer fans should be happy to take part in: a feature that keeps track of current soccer trends and allows for club allegiances. It plays out similar to Madden Moments Live — allowing the gamer to participate in the past week’s most intense matches or to simply keep track of how their club is doing.

This new social interaction was unfortunately only discussed not detailed, but if it works the way the developers explained it, there is a lot of potential for deeper gamer involvement.

FIFA 12 E3 Hands On - Dribbling

So, even though FIFA 12 isn’t boasting a serious visual upgrade (aside from its new impact engine), there is still going to be a lot for gamers to look forward to. As the top soccer franchise on the market, FIFA 12 didn’t necessarily need to do much to keep gamers interested but what they have done under the hood should make matches feel more authentic.

Precision dribbling, while still a little finicky, has been vastly improved over previous iterations, but also has the ability to defensively contain a player rather than make haphazard jabs at the ball — and impacts between players are the most realistic collisions ever created by a sports video game.

I can wholeheartedly say that this will be the soccer title to pick up this year, but not necessarily because of my hands-on experience, FIFA is currently king afterall.

Will you be picking up FIFA 12? Do you think that EA Sports is doing enough with this year’s iteration to warrant a purchase?

FIFA 12 releases September 30, 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PS2, 3DS, Vita, and iOS devices.