What I’m hoping for on demo day
In just a few short (by which I no doubt mean agonisingly long) days, the FIFA 12 demo will release. I’m lucky enough to have already got my hands on a few different builds of FIFA 12 but have not had any access to it since mid-July on a build which was already a few weeks old. My focus is now on what EA have been doing for the last couple of months – how has it changed, and how have they responded to the feedback they were given? This is what I’m hoping to see:
- Flair Passing needs to be drastically reduced in its effectiveness. Flair passes must be much less accurate than normal passes, and only available to skilled players. Also, I am hoping to see that they have moved the button it’s tied to so that it doesn’t overlap with the extremely useful L2/LT functions like close dribble, ‘trap & turn’, and so on.
- The sluggishness of passing will hopefully be toned down so that it doesn’t feel like a chore to hit a reasonably long pass – and to add to that it would be nice to see under-hitting/slowness used less to represent contextual error.
- Passing accuracy should be reduced, especially on very-high-angle (or blind) passes, and airborne passes to better differentiate between the quality of the player and the difficulty of the pass.
- Manual passing needs to lose its lethargic nature, the erratic weight bugs (where tapping the button leads to a smashed pass or vice versa) need to be removed, and the minimum weighting of a pass needs to be reduced so that it’s more feasible to make quick, snappy passes on manual.
- I am hoping to see that the sliders have been made more comprehensive and more powerful in their potential. They felt both awkward to use and clumsy – if they are to be of much serious use they need some serious thought.
- The CPU AI needs to feel more human – I want to get the sense that I’m playing the same game as my CPU opponent. Key to this is their reaction speeds which were previously far too high – it needs to become possible to truly ‘fool’ the AI, and not like they are practically cheating.
- The midfield needs to be much more active in terms of defence and attack. Recently it has become very static and seems to hover constantly in the middle of the pitch – usually not being far enough back to defend or far enough forward to attack – and this really needs to change to bolster the balance of the match flow.
- Aside from midfield in enhancements, the attacking AI must become more incisive, intelligent and aggressive when it comes to looking to make runs.
- The defensive AI needs to be much more aware of the defensive unit, rather than individuals. I hope to see the backline in particular being a lot more solid, staying as a line, and not allowing such large gaps to be exploited, as well as making much wiser choices about when to cover, and when to deploy offside traps.
- Goalkeepers while sturdy have recently walked a line of being somewhere between being superhuman and being a moron – easily exploitable using the same ‘sweet spot’ shots – and yet constantly capable of saving great shot time after time. I’d like to see them become less consistent, yet see a big boost to their intelligence when coping with finesse shots, crosses, and set pieces.
- Finesse shots of course are the main culprit of the ‘sweet spot’ exploit. We have been told by EA that these have been massively retuned, and this will be one of the first things I try out. I want to see much less predictability, I want to see the goalies dealing with them better. In short, I want to feel that finesse shots are goals I can be proud of, because in FIFA 11 I’m mostly ashamed of them.
- The Impact engine was mostly polished when I last played FIFA 12, and really now I’m just expecting to see it become fully polished. There were still a fair few occasions of really odd visual glitches, but I have a lot of confidence they will be gone soon.
- Interceptions have been severely understated in the last few years. Interceptions occur very unpredictably – it is all too often the case to see a player spindling as the ball rolls over his toe. I would love to see players making more (automated) effort to intercept balls within their reach, as this is very important to balancing attack and defence realistically.
- Tactical defending was for most play-testers something which just wasn’t quite feeling right. Whether this was due to the button mapping that EA had chosen, or just because it’s so radically different from what FIFA has given us for the last 4 years, it was taking a lot of time to get really used to. I hope that with the demo it is easier to pick up for everyone.
- The press buttons’ replacement, the contain function, was also a cause for concern in the new defending system. It had a synthetic quality which allowed your defender to mirror the attacker with immediacy in a way which seemed, like so many things in FIFA, to defy human reaction times and the laws of physics in one fell swoop. It needs to feel that your player is following their movement, trying to keep up, rather than copying him. It needs to feel that you can be fooled by a sudden feint or jink.
- Finally, I want to see that the sense of inertia will be improved upon. This is fundamental to the ability to ‘beat’ players through dribbling, and how a balanced defending system should work. The lack of a significant amount of inertia flows into every nook and cranny of the game. Without it, quite simply a lot of football situations simply cannot occur.