PlayStation 3
Released in 2012 by EA Sports
Rating: 5 out of 5

It’s the standard dose of soccer simulation excellence from this series. It’s fun and easy to pick up, yet extremely deep and challenging at the high levels. Also it’s one of the best multiplayer sports games out there.

Where it falls in the series

EA’s FIFA was a household name back in 1993 on Sega Genesis. I’m not sure the series really hit its stride until the PS3/Xbox 360 generation, but once it did, it was greatness year after year. This is the sixth installment on PS3. I read a lot of praise for FIFA 10, which is also great; FIFA 13 initially seemed slightly more mechanical to me, but I can hardly notice substantial differences between the two. Once EA found its formula for soccer, it didn’t need to change it much.

Praises

The strength of FIFA from this era is how intuitive it is to perform all kinds of different moves. Translating soccer to video game form is all about giving you close control over the subtleties.

This game lets you run, sprint, jog, sidestep, stop, turn, and pivot. There are normal passes, lob passes, crosses, low crosses, lead passes, lobbed lead passes, and probably more that I didn’t learn. On defense, you can face up, contain, standing tackle, slide tackle, call for a double team, and simply sprint at the ball to knock it away. That all sounds daunting, but the control scheme makes it very intuitive.

There’s an array of dribbling moves, some are intuitive and some are not, and only the seasoned expert will know them all. Free kicks and penalty kicks are also a bit trickier, but there needs to be something to spice those up.

The soccer logic built in is strong. Players seem to do what they’d naturally do. The strategy options add a ton of variance.

The huge lineup of teams and leagues adds legitimate depth and replay value. The players on Real Madrid are clearly more skilled than those on the Seattle Sounders. People who actually follow soccer (I’m not one of them) have a lot to sink their teeth into.

The graphics are great. Players have natural-looking animations that fit well together, the ball moves like a real ball, the fields are pretty, and the stadiums look right. The sound is good too, and I strongly suggest switching to Spanish announcers for a fun twist. The British announce team sounds pretentious and repeats stuff.

Gripes

My only gripes with this game are the same gripes I have with the real sport. Penalty kicks are too much of a sure thing. I don’t like the running clock. The tournament systems are wacky. I can’t really pick on anything else.

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