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Fifa 12 announces radical reinvention

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Great rivalries reverberate through history. The Earps and Clantons. The Duke Of Wellington and Napoleon. Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer. And if that last one sounds disingenuous to you, then log on to an online forum and prepare to be shocked at the vitriolic war of words that continually wages between the games’ fans.

Still, the overriding opinion is that the Fifa franchise has taken great leaps over the past few years to match fluid gameplay with lifelike visuals and establish itself as the better of the two. Last year, for example, it even introduced a revamped passing system.

A perfect excuse for EA to rest on its laurels, then? Not at all. In fact, lead producer David Rutter is pushing the slogan “revolution not evolution” to signify the greatest update to the game since the birth of the Xbox 360.

  • The game’s physics have been overhauled — challenges and collisions are more realistic, which not only makes for a more satisfying game of football, but also affects injuries. The game analyses the force of the collision (and where it happened on the body) to detect exactly what the extent of the injury should be. They’re no longer a random occurrence. This has a greater impact in career mode where players will come back from injuries wearing supports, and run the risk of aggravating it if it’s not properly healed.
  • The intelligence of computer-controlled teams has been improved. Instead of playing identikit opposition, where Manchester United play the same way as (albeit better than) Hull City, teams have distinct style. And they’ll change their tactics to suit the players on the pitch. If, say, Tottenham have Peter Crouch upfront, they’ll look to use his height. But should Jermain Defoe be introduced as their front man, tactics will change.
  • ‘Heat-seeking missile’ defending, where simply holding a button would send your player hurtling towards the man with the ball (more often than not winning it), is out. Instead there’s a new emphasis on timing, positioning and intercepting passes. Holding the button will move you closer to the to the attacker, but then you press a different button to make the actual tackle. Or, more likely than not to begin with, foul.
  • A buzz phrase this year is “precision dribbling”. Before going past an opposition player was all about using a skill move. Now the best dribblers can use their exceptional close control to get out of tight spaces with the ball, or keep control of it while fending off an opponent.

Fifa 12 is released on all formats in early autumn

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