Hat Tricks & Hookers: This is Fifa 12

WILLIAM SUMMERLIN reviews EA Sport’s latest offering at the altar of bloke

durham eyes fifa hat tricks hookers

At 1 minute past midnight in the early hours of Friday 30th September, an eclectic throng is gathering around Grainger Games. It’s an exclusively male group but apart from the fact they all have penises and that they’re breathing the same air (some only thanks to their inhaler), there is little to suggest that they have anything in common or, indeed, they’ve ever met each other before. As they swap opinions on precisely how ‘sick’ Messi will be or whether that ‘donkey’ Mertesacker will have been treated sympathetically by the programmers, one quickly realises that these are the die-hard fans of the latest version of the temple of testosterone that is the Fifa franchise and that they want to purchase it at the earliest opportunity.

Yes, Messi is sick and that cumbersome donkey has been given a ridiculously generous rating. More than this though, it’s a game that will ruin your degree. It is peerless in its ability to make you forget you have friends or family and, even if you do remember that other life exists, as you hold down L1 + triangle to unleash that killer lofted through ball to Seydou Doumbia (I’ve developed rather a penchant for the Ivorians on this game), you’re inclined to take them or leave them.

The gameplay is even better than ’11, with defending being far harder but infinitely more realistic, and the ‘keepers and referees are no longer infallible, thus adding to the game’s almost disturbing realism.

However, it’s not perfect. The commentary is woeful. As a result of Andy Gray being a dreadful person, Fifa obviously decided that ‘smashing birds’ wasn’t really the message they wanted to accompany their latest offering. Thus there are two commentary teams. One is entirely new to the game, with ITV’s Clive Tyldesley and the allegedly Irish Andy Townsend barraging you with a particularly offensive brand of ear rape and ill-fitting platitudes.

The other team comprises the likeable Martin Tyler and ex-Gunners striker Alan Smith. While this team is an improvement on the oxygen-thieving ITV duo, Smith, with his drawling Brummie accent, possesses all the charisma of a used condom.

While I’ve already cited the realism of the graphics, there is one exception. It is a complaint common to myriad contemporary games and it is the eyes of the footballers. The rest of their bodies are spookily similar to their real life counterparts and so in general the avatars are excellent, but the eyes bring to mind those of a sex worker whose joie de vivre died many favours ago. They resemble emotionless pools and are pretty much the only thing that really drags you back to reality.

Despite these flaws, the game is without equal. Pro Evo is a distant memory these days as Fifa ’12 takes a stranglehold on the genre. Mum? Who is Mum?