Summer is definitely here. We’re about a week away from receiving the first concrete news of FIFA10. (And it seems that it will be called FIFA10, not FIFA2010.) PES2010 news will also be here sooner rather than later. Exciting times ahead.
About a month ago there was a big FIFA10 preview session held at The Emirates stadium in London. The embargo on that one runs out in a week or so. Great. Can’t wait.
There’s been something increasingly on my mind over recent weeks. Something I have to get off my chest.
Last year, the build-up to FIFA09’s release was pretty intense. It promised to be the finest football game ever created. (Arguably, that promise was delivered; just as arguably, it wasn’t.) Over last summer the first videos appeared, then the demo duly followed, and along with all the many hands-on preview articles that showed up in print and online, pretty much all the questions about FIFA09’s core gameplay were answered.
The burning question that was never answered was: what about Manager Mode? Had Manager Mode been improved since FIFA08’s serviceable, but ultimately pretty hollow, Manager Mode? Were there night matches now? Was there a more realistic transfer market? Had the sponsorship money been tweaked? Could you create your own club again?
There were dozens of ways in which Manager Mode was lacking. Fixing even a few of them would transform the playing experience.
But it wasn’t until the week of FIFA09’s release that I found out that Manager Mode was substantially the same as FIFA08’s. This information didn’t come from one of the many respectable websites that tracked the game’s development, nor from the several print magazines that are still clinging on to life in this post-print age. No, I got this information from a random poster on a forum—somebody who’d had his copy of the game delivered early and had jumped straight into Manager Mode.
I didn’t believe it at first. I didn’t want to. Surely this couldn’t be true. Surely even one out of all those hundreds of previewers and reviewers, all summer long, would have noticed and told?!
I was, to put it mildly, upset. I was upset about the lack of progress in Manager Mode. For me a career mode is still any sports game’s main attraction. I am not and never have been (and never will be) a member of any online party. But I was oddly even more upset about having to find out about it from a forum. Seriously—it’s three days before release, and I’m only finding this out now? From some random person on a forum?
What were all the games journos playing at in all those preview sessions? Of course, what they were playing at was 1-versus-1 action, player versus player, like over-excited 10-year-olds who’d drunk too much fizzy pop.
Granted, those early previews are all about seeing the raw gameplay in action. That’s fine. What isn’t fine with me is that it remains the case, right up until the week of release. No reviewer or previewer ever seems to do anything much with their time on the game(s) than play one-off matches against other people attending the same event. They rarely do more than give the single-player modes a token glance.
Imagine that a games journalist went to check up on a new FPS and did nothing more than play the first few minutes of the first level of the single-player campaign. Such a games journalist would be in dereliction of duty. Yet that is exactly what dozens, eventually hundreds, of intrepid games journalists do, year in, year out, when it comes to PES and latterly FIFA. It’s got to stop. There has got to be a change.
I’m going to dare to speak on behalf of all my fellow single-player gamers. We’re not really a dying breed. It just seems that way. I believe we’re still the majority. We’re just not as visible as the online gamers. We might not get out of the house much. We haven’t had non-imaginary girlfriends for a while. But if you prick us, do we not bleed?
We need previewers and reviewers of PES2010 and FIFA10 to do us a great favour. We shouldn’t have to ask, but apparently we do have to ask, so I’m asking. We need them to actually play the career modes. Not just take a quick look. Not just play a game or two, then have a fiddle in the menus, then scuttle back to playing 1-vs-1. We need them to play at least 10 matches—long enough to see if there are night matches in Manager Mode. Is that too much to ask?
It’s great to see that technology has got to the point where so many football gamers are online gamers and nothing else. I’m happy for them, honestly I am. Properly considered, online football gaming is a whole new genre of gaming, a separate creation to the old single-player games that I cherish so much. I really do hope that my fellow PES fans who would love to play the game online actually get the online service they deserve this year.
But I also selfishly want the game modes that I play to be worthwhile too. Because, as the headline says, anti-social loners are people too.