FIFA 12 Shines with Online Seasons

Posted October 14th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

The mode in FIFA 12 that has captured the most of my play-time has been online ‘Head-to-Head Seasons’. Reminiscent of 2010 FIFA World Cup in that it offers a ladder of sorts in “divisions” it adds in a fantastic new way of matchmaking which creates the most fair of pairings possible.

Despite the struggles with my record all of the games have been thoroughly enjoyable – making it something I want to come back to as often as possible even when anticipating a loss. For anything online related, which carries with it the prospect of frustrating opponents or performance issues, that is about as much as you can ask for. 

As the biggest selling sports game in the world, and now in sports gaming history, one of the primary benefits of that is the large user base. No matter what team is chosen or whatever your skill level there will always be a pool of potential opponents online. That is important for how the matchmaking in Online Seasons works.

Choose a team (I have played solely with the Sounders) and FIFA 12 will pit you against someone else in your division – which theoretically should be approximate skill level – using a team with a similar star rating. On release day this didn’t work exactly right (one time I was matched up against Team USA) but since tweaks have been made to prevent mismatches from happening. Now I end up playing against mid-level squads or on a few occasions Sounders vs Sounders affairs – can’t get any more balanced than that! Despite my record most of the matches have been competitive – though I’m surprised that I’ve yet to draw even once.

Other benefits include players with high DNF being pitted against others with high DNF – which would reduce the chance of facing opponents who quit often – and the removal of a game (there are initially 10) in their season after a quit. That punishment could be enough to dissuade someone from quitting as the opportunity to earn enough points to gain promotion is then damaged. I’ve yet to face anyone who has quit – though I also haven’t held an insurmountable lead over an opponent so I don’t know if that would be the case if I had.

I’ve also been impressed with the commentary which will cite the team’s current circumstances – at the beginning of a match it may be stated that my team is coming off two straight losses, or need a win in order to keep hopes of promotion alive…things along those lines. That adds to the feeling of each match having relevance beyond just my personal record.

The only real gripe I have are opponents who steal away goal kicks – maybe I’m missing something but trying to pass it is way too dangerous so now I just always kick deep. The questionable physics interactions can also elicit some frustration but that isn’t online specific.

Otherwise this is about as much fun as I’ve had online this generation win or lose. The feeling of exhilaration that comes with scoring (or occasionally) winning in FIFA 12 online is unmatched. I’ve yet to encounter any lag and considering the server load and worldwide base of players it’s remarkable – but that is a trait FIFA has displayed for years now even in 11 on 11 Team Play.

There’s a lot more for me to dive into with FIFA 12 but I’m having trouble dragging myself away from Online Seasons because the matches have been so purely enjoyable. The concept is excellent and delivers motivation to improve and succeed while increasing the likelihood of an evenly matched opponent better than any other sports title has to date.