What Beta? I am not knowing this ‘Beta’

So, was I too harsh on FIFA11—and on next-gen FIFA in general—on Friday? Yes and no. There’s still a full game of FIFA11 to come out, of course. If we based everything on shakycam vids and confused reports by guerilla poets on the Gamescom floor, no games would ever come out.

But I stand by my opinion that next-gen FIFA is  heading in slightly the wrong direction—for my personal tastes. FIFA10 has always felt faster than I want it to be, even on its so-called Slow setting. Its pressure/stamina mechanic (or lack of one) is just stupid. Stupid. Much like PES2011’s, really, to judge by what’s emerging from the Master League Online Beta testers.

I won’t go into details (no time; less inclination), but I’m not hearing anything about MLO that’s making me yearn to play the mode. MLO sounds just like Ultimate Team in all but name. Super teams packed with superstars all exerting maximum sprinting pressure for entire matches. No doubt I will try it at some point. I forecast a single session that’ll last about an hour at most.

I played some FIFA10 over the weekend. I am still hip-deep in a very good PES6(360) ML career. But I’ve missed out on the Treble in my current season and I felt that I needed a break before starting to push the rock up the hill again.

Predictably, I loved FIFA10 all over again. Just as predictably, after a while I started to want something substantial to do with all this wonderful gameplay.

FIFA needs a compelling offline answer to PES’s Master League mode. It’s no longer an optional extra that EA can afford to nurture and grow organically over a period of years. It’s got to happen now.

Manager Mode has been a disaster for the series and few will miss it. Career Mode sounds sparse and utilitarian, but as ever I have a wild mad hope that it’ll be good. I’m an optimist when it comes to football games, it’s plain to see…

Below are some goals I scored in my weekend FIFA10 sessions (all using semi-assisted controls). The very first one had me sitting up and punching the air. The match was a tight affair. It doesn’t really come across in the clip, but I gave the right stick the slightest nudge in order to make the space, and then whipped the shot in. It felt very good. The other goals were one of my patented ‘reverse hook’ shots, and a different kind of long-ranger that found the postage stamp corner of the net:

Link: FIFA10 August Goals

A lot of people say that goal-scoring in FIFA isn’t varied or satisfying enough. I’ve never really gone along with that view. The three goals above are indeed all a bit samey—but only because I favour goals scored from outside the box when assembling clips for the blog. I’ve always scored plenty of different types of goals in next-gen FIFA, from FIFA08 through to today.

My issue with FIFA is the lack of a meaningful context in which to score the goals. What’s it all about? What’s it all for?


  1. A couple of nice FIFA goals there, i too dont think the statement that FIFA goals are all too ‘samey’ has any standing, i score a wealth of different goals every time I play, if anything, id say PES goals are much more samey.
    Im done arguing the toss (a yearly statement) about the pro’s and cons of both games, im just gonna sit tight and wait for the respective demo’s, which should be pretty much 95% final code, and base my judgments around those.
    I totally agree though with your dilemma about ‘what to do with all this FIFA gameplay goodness’.
    My thought process is usually, play FIFA, love the gameplay but what do i achieve out of it!? or have a sense of immersion and play PES and settle for mediocre gameplay!
    I dont know why EA dont just port their FIFA Manager game into FIFA 11 and stick the gameplay engine behind it.
    Or get Peter Moore to stick his hand in his pocket, buy out the makers of Championship Manager, and have that as the manager mode career with the FIFA gameplay engine sat behind that.

    I can dream….

  2. Surely you mean Football Manager? No one plays Championship Manager anymore do they? Do they? ha ha

  3. Champ Manager / Footy manager, whatever its called, picky……….. lol
    Actually i have champ manager 2010 for my iphone so was getting mixed up, apologies.

  4. Great goals, Not-Greg.

    If anyone who is happy with the variety of FIFA goals can explain to me how to score from crosses during open play, or corners, I would love that! I have played about 10-15 hours of the game this year and was never able to reliably accomplish either of those events. Crossing the ball felt like just throwing possession away.

    If anyone could do so, it would go a long way toward getting me back on the game!

  5. cklarock – one of my biggest grumbles about PES is that its ridiculously easy to score bullet headers, diving headers, volleys etc from crosses… id say i have a 75% conversion rate.

    In FIFA its much more difficult to find that little bit of space for an attacker to get onto a cross, im not saying that its more realistic or not, just that its more difficult.
    I can only offer the following as tips, not proven strategies..
    1. Set your crossing controls to Manual, Semi if not, but manual will give you much more control over where to put the ball rather than the cpu picking out who it thinks is best places.
    2. try early crosses into the box from outside the ‘crossing zone’ – often this catches defenders off guard and the forward has a yard of space on them.
    3. dont just cross to the edge of the 6yrd box, try crosses to teh back post, penalty spot and even the edge of the penalty area.
    4. Hold L1 or LB depending on your console when crossing, this puts a whipper more arced cross in.
    5. Utilise the double tap of the cross button for a faster lower trajectory cross.
    6. Press the initiate run button (L1/LB) just before you cross, this sometimes instructs your forward to move away from the defender a bit.
    7. Use R2/RT when the cross comes in (when ball is in the air) to gain control of the receiving player and jostle for space.

    Good luck!

  6. Paul—I await Career Mode with interest, but I’m worried that we’ve got this far in the summer without any real hands-on reports from third-party previewers. This time last year the all-new Master League had had a few in-depth hands-on reports (on PESfan and WENB). That was a sign of Konami having total confidence in the mode.

    The FSB boys are playing FIFA11 as I type, and I’m watching their Tweets. Sadly, as ever, they seem to be over-excited and only playing against each other. But they like the game speed and one says the secondary pressure is ‘massively reduced’.

    I was in town today and popped into the games stores specifically to see how much a preowned copy of FIFA WC game is now. Cheapest I saw it was £25. No way I’m paying that for a tournament game that I’d probably play a handful of times over a week or two. With FIFA11 just around the corner it seems as if I’ll be skipping the WC game now.

  7. Phil—apparently the PC version of CM2010 was a great improvement after several dodgy years. I don’t know though. I haven’t played CM properly since CM4. During quiet spells at my work I occasionally start up a copy of CM01/02 on USB stick, but that’s a rare day indeed lately.

  8. ck—I’d endorse the tips above, particularly the one about changing the controls scheme. You’d find yourself sending crosses absurdly too far either way at first, but you’d get it eventually. I’m using the future conditional there because, at this stage of the football game year, it might be too late for FIFA10 to have any impact. Just as it probably is too late for FIFA10 and myself, despite the good vibes of the past weekend. In FIFAs 08 and 09 I had an interest in Manger Mode that’s completely missing this year.

    I have to say I score less goals that I’d like from crosses and corners. A top-of-my-head percentage would be around the 5% mark, which is way lower than it ‘should’ be.

    It probably all comes back to familiarity with the game and controls. I’ve played FIFA10 probably only about a quarter as much as I played its 09 and 08 predecessors. I would only class myself a casual player of FIFA10. There’s an extra level of expertise that I was at with FIFA09 that I don’t think I’ll get to in FIFA10 now, not at this stage. I’ve never gone through a phase of white-hot interest and involvement with it that’s led to me playing so intensely that the methods of scoring crossed/corner goals suddenly becomes apparent and instinctive.

  9. @ Paul: Thank you for the tips! I don’t play PES next-gen as I found it far too stilted and wooden, and have dropped FIFA because taking what the game gives me tends to break my play into really predictable patterns. I’ll give your suggestions a go and see how it plays.

    @Not-Greg: With only a few weeks until the demos are released, it’s probably time to drop the curtain on FIFA 10, but I will need *something* to play between now and then, barring Interesting Life Developments* We can’t all be architects for ” rel=”nofollow”>dwarven dream homes. 😉

    *Almost never actually fun.

  10. ck—don’t ever go near Dwarf Fortress. I just dropped another 5 hours on it. I’m tearing myself away now at 1.10 am.

    As for other things to do in the interim period before the demos – earlier today I spent an interesting hour trying to get ISS64 running on an emulated Nintendo64 on my Mac with a PS3 controller attached via USB. This unholy hodgepodge of tech somehow worked. But… (very) old football games are rubbish now! It wasn’t worth the effort.

    Legend of Zelda, though. That’s not aged.

  11. £25 for the WC game is way high, its a great game, more like a FIFA 10.25 with international teams only, some nice new animations and turfs etc but not worth the £25 literally weeks before FIFA11 drops.
    Not-Greg, if you really wanna give it a bash, il happily post my copy to you to have a play with, just send back when your done.

    Im currently carrying on with my PES ML career (still in my first season) my only hesitance is that ive left it far too late to start a worthwhile ML career and may only get 2 or 3 seasons out of it before the next batch of games hit, and thats not enough time or love to put into a proper ML career, certainly not enough time to forge a team of high quality players and therefore reap the rewards the game gives when you ditch the defaults.
    Im top of the league by 8 points at the moment though (Div 2) having won 19, drawn 1 and lost 4.
    Greg… do you remember one of your posts from a few months back …. a name that amused you…. well LANALKISS has just turned me down when i tried to sign him….A*&%hole!!! lol

  12. Paul—Thanks for the offer but at this stage of the game year it’s too late for me to get into the WC game. It’s not just other footy games I’ve got on (PES6, FM2010). The other games on my bedside table, so to speak, are a skyscraper… I’ll wait for FIFA11 now.

    It sounds as if it’s too late for you to get the full benefit of ML2010 as well. Hopefully, fingers crossed, PES2011 will have enough quality to draw you in earlier… But some of the vids I’ve seen today from MLO are pretty dismaying to say the least. I’ve seen people doing chains of tricks and walking the ball into the net a la PES2008.

    I think it’s very worrying that the single-player side of things has been conspicuous by its absence from the preview jamboree (for both games). I’ll be talking/moaning about that all again in tomorrow’s post.

    And Lanalkiss amused a commenter who pointed out that I’d cropped a squad photo so that it said ANALKISS. Ahem..

  13. I hear ya!!
    have a few games still mid-way through too, just finished Heavy Rain on the PS3, amazing game, one that i shall deffo play through again from the start just to see the varying outcomes. Also playing Alan Wake on the 360 which seems really good so far.

    By the time FIFA11 and PES11 are due, it will be time for Call of Duty Black Ops too, just not enough time ………

  14. Legend of Zelda! Now you’re talking! That was a fun game.

    Over here, the hipsters were into Atari for a while; you could go into coffee shops and bars in San Francisco and play Yar’s Revenge or Pitfall with your ironically mustachioed friends.

  15. pitfall – classic!
    One thing that grated me last night, I was playing a Div2 match in my PES ML career, and the cpu team literally just passed the ball in triangles in the midfield for the entire 90 minutes.
    It was virtually impossible to get the ball back, they never ventured forwards just happy to one touch pass between 4 or 5 players all game. Its bad enough when the teen fanboys do this on FIFA online but for a CPU Ai to do it……. shocking!!
    The game ended 0-0 not suprisingly and really annoyed me as it was a wasted 10 minutes!!
    can anyone vouch for this getting better once you move up a division in PES or is it prevailent throughout?

  16. Paul—the PES2010 AI is notorious for its odd little ways. You have to get a middling-to-good team before it starts being forced into playing more as it should. The lack of AI previewing this year seems partcularly bad given the concerns last year over the AI in both games. I’ve just finished tomorrow’s post where I really do go on again about the issue…

    I’ve still got Uncharted 2 on my to-play pile. Shocking that it’s still there.

  17. ck—Legend of Zelda plays pretty darn well on the emulated N64. With so much else to do I’ll never go further than the twenty minutes I spent on it yesterday.

  18. @Not-Greg & @Paul: The AI from PES the last few years has been awful. I think if I remember correctly, there was an admission from some PES developers that they painted themselves into a corner with the system and have had to return to a less encumbered decision making engine.

    My primary gripe with the next-gen AI the last few years has been that it is unable to recognize when a player is *about* to take possession of the ball. You’ll see the entire defense sitting still until your winger takes the ball at his feet, and only then snap into action. Any predictive algorithm that could determine a loose ball’s most likely result would go a long way toward fixing the problems with the PES AI.

    I do hope that the AI will have been overhauled for 2011, and it’s odd to me that none of the folks with preview code have gone into much detail regarding the it; AI is absolutely critical for both single- and multi-player game modes.

    Nothing personal, but as you’ve ranted on here several times the folks reviewing preview code for the PES sites just aren’t that good at it.

    As always, until the demo we wait.

  19. Cheers guys, guess its another little PES mannerism we have to live with…for now.

    N0t-Greg …. Uncharted 2 sat there??? major sacrilege!!!!
    possibly the greatest looking and playing game for any console, ever!!! it really is THAT good.
    you NEEED to be giving that some serious playtime.

  20. ck—it could be said that the best AI is one you never really notice—a dictum that the previewers take all too literally.

  21. Paul—I’ve been waiting for a period of days off work to give Uncharted 2 a run-out. When I get into a game like Uncharted 2 I like to play it intensively every day, and only time off work really lets me do that. Weekends don’t really count, as the first day back at work always comes too soon. I’ve got a week off in September…

  22. Well you have a year until Uncharted 3 so still a bit of time yet! 😉

  23. argh, don’t mention Uncharted 2, it makes me feel so guilty! Can’t believe I spend my evenings failing miserably to get results with Brighton on manual controls, while one of the finest games of this generation lies unopened on the shelf!

  24. abbeyhill—that’ll be the ‘ease of playing a football game’ syndrome. (Snappy name for it, eh.) When I fire up a ‘proper’ game like Uncharted 2, I know I’m committing to playing it regularly and following the story and remembering the controls etc. It’s like sitting down to watch a two-hour film; a quick session on PES/FIFA is mroe like a short drama or sitcom. I often can’t be bothered with watching two-hour films nowadays. Much easier to stick PES or FIFA in for an hour and write no cheques to the future that I might not want to pay. I tend to save up ‘proper’ games(and films) for periods when I’m off work. It’s so much easier to just play football games on working days and weekends otherwise.

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