FIFA Soccer 12
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS3
Genre: Sports; Publisher: EA Sports
ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone
Grade: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
EA Sports has made significant alterations to FIFA’s core gameplay. These changes further solidify the FIFA franchise as the dominant soccer series on the market.
The most noticeable modification is to how defences work on the pitch. Previously you controlled a defender and tried to shut down opponents individually using button combinations.
The vastly improved system now features natural backline teamwork to draw offside calls and execute better takeaway actions like jersey-tugging and elbow/shoulder-nudging.
The on-ball animations and gameplay have seen a nice reboot as well. The changes create more flopping and play-acting to garner foul calls than necessary, but, when running smoothly, the improved one-touch passing and ball-control movements make star players like Luis Suarez or the entire Barcelona roster reflect their real-life counterparts.
The improvements aren’t merely on the pitch. FIFA 12 has a host of new online features to lure you into playing longer. FIFA Ultimate Team was a stellar downloadable offering in years past, but comes with the game now. The EA Sports Football Club is another enticement to take your favourite team to the top of an online fan club that is based solely on how much you (and other fans) play and succeed online. It’s highly addictive, and fits right into this overall game that soccer (and sports) addicts must play.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Genre: Shooter; Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
ESRB Rating: M, for Mature
Grade: 4 stars
No gaming company adores the post-apocalyptic setting like Bethesda Softworks, which is responsible for wasteland-themed games like the outstanding Fallout franchise, Brink and now Rage.
Bethesda dwells in this landscape better than just about anyone else. In Rage, you awake to find the world a barren den of human existence. Quickly indebted to some of the surviving locals, your job is to drive, kill and fetch your way to survival. It won’t be easy, but it will be fun.
Besides providing stunning landscapes of outposts lingering among jagged rock faces and decrepit makeshift towns, the game succeeds by setting some limits. Ammo and weapons are hard to come by, but what’s available is highly effective, creating tense shootouts and a heightened sense of survival. Packs of thieves and unruly gangs aren’t your typical combat dunces; they find cover well and will corner you for a quick kill if you’re not nimble.
When shooting is not on the menu, Rage throws you behind the wheel of numerous vehicles for battles or racing. Typically seen as a wasted attempt to mix up the gameplay in lesser games, here it succeeds by keeping things simple and concise.
Drawbacks pop up in the form of few autosave points and repetition with fetch quests. The Road Rage and Legends of the Wasteland multiplayer options feel tacked on, but few campaign-centric games bother offering them, so it’s a nice long-term bonus.
The visuals and effective gameplay of Rage will be long remembered by those who wisely add this game to their library.
Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler.