When EA released Madden NFL on the Nintendo 3DS, it was a passable game that ultimately was too shallow in terms of gameplay and features. Fortunately, FIFA 12 changes that drastically with its debut on the handheld.
As with the console versions of the game, FIFA 12 on the 3DS includes a ton of officially licensed teams and real players, along with a whole host of tournaments and leagues from around the world. Exhibition matches can be done either in standard 11 v 11 games, or in 5 v 5 Street matches, which puts teams in various urban settings, both indoor and outdoor for some quick games, that typically see plenty of goals. It’s a great way to pick up and play the game for a short period of time.
Career Mode lets players not only take their club to the promise land, but enables them to manage the team from all aspects. That includes hiring a staff, managing transfers and trades, upkeeping the club facilities and more. It’s basically a soccer sim, but without getting too complicated.. This in turn, could be a slight let down for those who want more complex options, but it works just fine for a handheld game.
That game also features the ‘Be A Pro’ mode, which lets gamers create their own soccer player and take him from the streets all the way up to the club level. Controlling only their created player, gamers will look to gain XP throughout his career in order to improve their abilities as well as Fame points, which improve reputation and the ability to move up to bigger and better clubs.
Presentation is pretty impressive, with the graphics looking more or less like the Wii version, and the 3D effects working pretty well. While the game offers up plenty of camera angles, of which the ‘Broadcast’ is the one I’ve liked for years, the ‘Pro 3D Close’ is easily the best one to really take advantage of the 3D capabilities. It truly does feel like you’re in the middle of the field, and it emphasizes the importance of distance and positioning when shooting or passing the ball. It can be a little tough to get used to at first, but after getting accustomed to it; it’s hard to go back to another camera angle.
Commentary works well for the most part and the game’s soundtrack is pretty catchy, which is something you’d expect out of a FIFA game, though the crowd reaction can sometimes be a little uneven, as it pertains to realistically reacting to what’s going on in the pitch.
The game’s controls are pretty easy to use, as it’s not necessary to use the touch screen to play at all. The game also features a Training mode that will help players learn some of the more advanced maneuvers in the game. However, when controlling the ball and getting close to the box, a net will appear on the touch screen that enables players to pin point where they want to kick the ball, and with a specific amount of power. Though it can be a tad distracting when looking to use it at times, it does work very well. Of course, the accuracy of the shots depend on the skills of the players who has the ball, but it’s a nice addition that I found myself using more and more as I played. I do wish though, that the pacing of the game was a little quicker. Compared to the console versions, the 3DS version seems much slower, which I suppose is appropriate for the handheld, but it could have been sped up a bit more. Even if you sprint, players seem to be running slow, and the intermittent frame rate issues only highlight this problem. Overall, though the game is smooth enough to enjoy.
If there was one major complaint about FIFA 12 on the 3DS, it would have to be the puzzling omission of an online component. The game does have local multiplayer but the lack of online multiplayer is a major drag, and I don’t understand why EA decided to keep it off. I do hope that next year’s game does online play, because another iteration of the game on the 3DS without online matches, would be inexcusable.
FIFA 12 is a formidable game on the Nintendo 3DS and one of the best sports games on the platform. The missing online component is a bummer, but the amount of single-player options, coupled with a polished presentation and solid controls, make this game recommendable for any sports or soccer fan needing their fix on the go.