Do you want to see a picture of Castolo playing in FIFA12? Okay, then:
What sorcery is this?
Here is the man himself, doing his thing:
NB: I know that neither of the goals are anything special. They’re only special because of who is scoring them (CASTOLO) and where (FIFA!). Also, I thought long and hard about including the PES2 goal replay music. While I’m committing sacrilege, I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb…
Before anybody lodges an objection about the defenders, I was deliberately playing on Semi-Pro in order to road-test my gleaming new FIFA12 version of Castolo. He got 5 goals in this game. I had also tweaked the defenders to be 5% slower. You can do that now in FIFA.
I’ve since moved back to a more respectable Professional difficulty level, and restored the CPU sliders to default.
And Castolo is still great. What a player! But where did he come from…?
I got FIFA12 last week, started playing it on Friday, and have been having a great time. This is the best FIFA since FIFA09, no question in my mind. The football is just a deep, absorbing experience. There is individuality in bucketloads by comparison to previous years. The individuality is still short of PES at its greatest in that regard, but it’s closed the gap.
Still early days of course. I’ve yet to start Career Mode—for me the only real test of the value of a football game.
When I start that Career Mode, I might do so with PES United. Using the ML Default players of Pro Evolution Soccer fame. (I’m not the user called ‘bongowongo7’ as seen in the screenshot to the right, who had the idea the day before me.)
You can do the whole Editing thing now in FIFA. It might be old news to many, but I only found out about it late on Saturday night. It’s called Creation Centre. Over release weekend, the web interface has been a little sluggish for me, but it does its job.
Creation Centre is FIFA’s very own in-depth, fully comprehensive Edit Mode. You can find other people’s creations and bookmark them for download later on your console.
Or you can make your own stuff. You can work at your leisure on your own custom players, teams, and even entire league or cup competitions. You can save work in progress. When it’s all finished you can choose to keep it all to yourself, or publish it for the world to see and download. Feel free to have a look for my Castolo.
A more limited version of Creation Centre started last year, with FIFA11. It’s a measure of how little I bothered with FIFA11 that I had no idea.
The difference this year, with FIFA12, is that all creations can be used in Career Mode. Not every part is free, though. There’s a certain level beyond which you hit the annoying little padlock sign and have to pay. I’m seriously considering paying out real cash for full access to everything. But there’s enough free stuff to be getting on with.
It’s free to create custom players and use them. I experimented on Saturday night with creating my very own Castolo. Starting out small.
Yes, I know I made his skin tone a shade or two too dark. But hey, this is still a Castolo I can believe in.
After much tweaking I ended up with a 74 OVR striker. He’s got two good feet and an explosive shot. He’s fast and strong, and goes through defences like a human threshing machine.
I imported him to the existing Coventry City squad, just to see how things worked.
I then played the first few matches of an FA Cup tournament with Coventry, with Castolo leading the line.
Needless to say, it was all rather compelling. I stayed up way past my normal bedtime, until 3:30 in the morning.
It all gave me a few ideas.
First of all, I thought I’d just make a few Default PES players and introduce them to the Coventry squad for the fun of it.
Then I investigated Creation Centre further and discovered the full range of options.
I wasn’t the first to have the idea about PES United, no sir. On the left is pictured the First XI in bongowongo7’s PES United squad.
I’d have made some different choices—I wouldn’t have included Piliniak from PES3. I had to Google him before I remembered him, to be honest.
Otherwise, they’re all there. Ivarov, Ceciu, Ruskin, Ximelez, Espimas, all of them. Macco and Burchet and the rest are in the subs and reserves list.
And of course this old Castolo is the more recent kind. Over 30 and a myth in the making.
My all-new Castolo is just 20, and a towering, Drogba-like figure.
He’s the Brazilian Schwarz. When I make Schwarz—and it will happen—I’ll have to make a Schwarz who’s even more Schwarz-like to compensate.
RIGHT. So all this gushing about Creation Centre, FIFA’s answer to Edit Mode—a feature we’ve had in PES for 10 years and counting—-is all well and good, but what does it mean?
Have I spent the weekend just messing about with the ribbon, or actually playing the football game?
I’m pleased with the discovery of Edit mode because it does for FIFA what Edit mode has always done for PES: it broadens the game out and makes it more of a personal, lived-in space that you want to take ownership of.
Is the effort worth it? There are those among us who might see today’s post as evidence that FIFA is just flashy fun: worth fiddling about with for a while, but ultimately hollow.
In the long run, they might be proved right. But just at this moment, I believe FIFA12 does bring a football game to match its gaudy promise.
With FIFA12, EA have done two very important things.
First and foremost, they have mercilessly ditched sprint-pressure defending. That on its own has made a huge difference to the game of football that FIFA plays. I can now spend whole swathes of matches without the ball when I try, unconsciously of course, simply to charge in and take it. I have to use the new defensive system soberly and carefully.
Secondly, they have introduced sliders that control many critical aspects of the gameplay. For example, noticing in one match that the CPU never misplaced a pass, I lowered its accuracy from 50 to 40 and saw an immediate difference. The CPU started misplacing occasional passes, and increasingly so when I closed down space intelligently.
FIFA12 is the kind of game where, after a match, you think to yourself: “I really moved the ball well in that match”, or: “I defended well at the end there”—just like PES, in other words.
It all raises a few very interesting issues for me.
I’m forced to ask myself what the point is of getting smoochy with FIFA. PES2012 is going to come along in the fullness of time (10 days or so), and bring it all to a halt.
I still think it is, yes. It’s no longer an absolute stick-on certainty, but yes, I still expect that PES2012 and Master League will be the game for me.
I said all along that the likelihood of two great football games this year was a terrifying prospect. For me at least, that semi-nightmare scenario is becoming a reality.