FIFA has grown in a way that means you’re no longer limited to the content that ships on your disk. You can now customise your experience in various ways by syncronising your console to the EASF website and making use of the features that are steadily growing there. FIFA 11 introduced lots all within one release, but have they moved on?
Replay Theatre – Dave
In fairness, David Rutter did admit quite early on in the release calendar that EA have done very little with Replay Theatre for FIFA 12, and whilst that may have been the correct decision in terms of resource allocation, I can only review what’s in front of me.
The good news is that the limit of saves in Replay Theatre has been upped from FIFA 11’s meagre offering to a bulging 50 saves. Sadly that’s the end of the positivity because beyond that, Replay Theatre is feature and quality identical.
The main issue is that the replays you save aren’t actually replays at all. They’re heavily compressed, poor quality, video files which can’t be re-edited after saving. Even more disappointing is that they’re limited to an astonishing 11 seconds in length, which makes capturing any kind of build-up play virtually impossible.
When you see what Activision and Bungie have done in recent times with their own versions of Replay Theatre for Halo and COD respectively, it really does emphasise just how far away FIFA’s lacklustre offering is from an acceptable benchmark. I really can’t stress enough how poor Replay Theatre is and to be frank, in its current state it’s only wasting valuable disk space.
You’re only as good as your worst feature.
Game Face -Dave
I’ll be honest; it is odd for an application which has been widely available for two years to still be in beta, but none the less that’s the current state of play with EA’s Game Face technology. Even though it’s still classed as in beta the million dollar question is, has it improved?
For FIFA 12 I decided to create my Game Face again and thankfully the photos I used last year were still stored against my EA ID. Anything which saves the uncomfortable process of capturing a gormless self-portrait gets my vote so very much a +1 to Game Face on that front.
Visually Game Face looks the same, the instructions are the same and the steps to completion are exactly the same. This could fool you in to thinking that the result would be the same, but it’s not. In fact once my FIFA 12 Game Face had been created I barely had to tweak anything, it just worked. In previous years I’ve always had to spend hours upon hours tweaking sliders, gradually making the Game Face look less and less like me as I went.
It’s pleasing to see that the development of Game Face has been solely focussed on the outcome and that’s without doubt the right strategy. The evolution of Game Face has been slow, but finally the rewards are beginning to be reaped.
Custom Audio – Tom
EA obviously have some limitations as to what can and can’t go into the game, which is why over the last few years we’ve seen so much customisation handed back to the users. Custom Audio was one of the tools provided to do that. The first outing was good, aside from some bugs which we’re assured have been fixed and haven’t experienced ourselves this year, although others reportedly have. Sadly, aside from that bug fixing, Custom Audio hasn’t been touched. The process and features remain the same as FIFA 11, and if there have been any changes to quality behind the scenes it’s not immediately noticeable.
There are still useful options missing such as preview functions for playlists from within the game so that you could test how the audio sounds against the backdrop of the crowd and make adjustments if needed.
That said I still spent the best part of an evening carefully sorting my playlists and assigning everything properly before I’d even thought about starting a Career Mode because this is an excellent feature that, used properly, can help boost the atmosphere of matches, it just needed some attention. So whilst the premise remains solid and still has the impact it did in FIFA 11, the lack of new features or innovation this year makes you wonder if EA have decided that it’s as good as it needs to be.
Edit Mode – Dave
The actual contents of the in-game edit mode in FIFA 12 haven’t really changed a great deal from FIFA 11 but with Creation Centre now picking up a lot of the slack in this department it hasn’t needed to. What’s there is good and it works well but there are two main issues hampering our creative juices.
The first is that you’re unable to edit the appearance of licensed players. I guess this is restricted by one of the many weird and wonderful license agreements but with the vast majority of FIFA’s roster still without 8-way facial capture it’s a disappointing miss. Seeing Phil Jones running around with dark brown hair rather than his expertly highlighted golden locks isn’t ideal and it should be easy for us to amend.
There is some hypocrisy in the AWOL Appearance tab though because the current settings will allow you to set Wayne Rooney as a goalkeeper, but not make Phil Jones blonde. Which is worse from a license perspective?
The other problem is that once you change aesthetic items like boots, the game treats your default squad file as “customised” and if you then wish to use these changes in Career Mode you have to waive the right to be on the leader boards. Now if I’m transferring players around I totally understand that restriction but for aesthetic changes only it’s an incredibly harsh price to pay. I’ve always said that accessory changes should be contained within their own data file rather than modifying the default, to allow you to re-apply should the default fail or corrupt. I hope EA take that feedback on board.
Beyond those issues the usual options for tweaking Team Management, Rosters and Stadiums are all present and with Creation Centre backing Edit Mode up there’s an awful lot of time you can invest in customising FIFA 12 should you wish to.
An overhaul visually is needed going forward and also a change of strategy with regards to how aesthetic changes are saved and applied but on the whole it’s fairly decent.
Creation Centre – Tom
You could almost forgive EA for the lack of attention paid to the above considering how much has been changed in Creation Centre. Almost.
The turnaround in the 12 months since it was first released is astounding, with several huge changes being made. Stand outs include being able to customise your created clubs badge and sponsor, which, when coupled with the extra kit options, allows you to create pretty much any team past or present that aren’t in the game, including your sunday league team. The ability to make use of licensed content is a great addition, as is the ability to spread your Creation Centre content further into the game than the exhibition and unranked matches that were available last year, with certain content accessible through CM.
Things haven’t changed drastically in terms of editable stats in player creation but the using the unity plugin that powers gameface to allow player faces to be designed in 3d is a big step forward, allowing more face types to be used. There are more boot and kit options for people that like that kind of thing.
New to Creation Centre is create a tournament which allows you to create a custom tournament of up to 24 teams with customisation of balls and screen overlays which can be downloaded to play in certain modes, which people have already used to recreate full leagues unavailable in game.
The app is easy to navigate and generally solid. There are a few overhanging issues with content from FIFA 11 currently unable to be deleted, but we understand a fix is incoming for that. I experienced the odd crash whilst editing the FSB team, but if you use quick save frequently enough you won’t lose anything. Another downside is that when you’re viewing teams for bookmarking, you can’t see the kits, so you’ve no idea how faithfully it’s been reproduced until you download and use them in game.
Now some of the features above need to be paid for, unless you have an EA Sports Season Ticket, but I have to admit I was shocked at how cheap the add ons are and as long as that money is put back into Creation Centre next year it’s fine by me. The key thing is that you don’t have to own the premium content packs to be able to download content that has been made with them, smart move by EA, as is breaking down the premium content in to packs, letting you pick and choose which features you want to bolt on.
The doors that Creation Centre unlocks are vast and a quick look at the figures at the time of writing shows that, over four million item downloads so far today. There are people that have used the tools for unsavoury purposes, namely creating teams for Virtual Pro boosting, but that aside Creation Centre needs to stay and needs to keep improving in the way it has.
Features Total 31/50
*This is not the final score for the game. It’s the score for this portion. The final score based on all aspects considered will be live at 3pm*