It looks like this is finally the year. The year where my quick February look at FIFA turns into a longer, rest-of-the-year look. It was always going to happen one year.
If Tuesday’s obsession with beating the Team of the Week is anything to go by, I’m hooked.
FIFA13 has rolled up and snatched me away. I’m shaping up to be like Donald Sutherland, seen reacting here as he meets the last PES player on Earth.
I spent my entire session playing the same match over and over. My team of modest Silvers, against the FIFA Ultimate Team Team of the Week, on World Class difficulty.
That’s the clincher: World Class difficulty. The early stages on Ultimate Team using the default difficulty settings are not competitive at all. Turn up, press some buttons, win some Coins, rinse, repeat. Yawn.
Changing difficulty changes the whole game. Some of these matches, I didn’t even have a shot. I never got close to actually winning any of them.
I played them eight times, lost seven times, and drew the eighth. I scored two goals in eight. By late last night, no Coins were being awarded for any of the matches. Presumably the TotW expires or is limited in some way.
Okay, so playing one-off match over and over inside a concept mode is a very long way from the rigours of Master League.
But right now, I feel like doing what I’m doing and nothing else.
I ran out of Contracts a few matches into my assault at the Team of the Week. I scurried back to the main UT menu and spent all my Coins on new Contracts. 350 for four Silvers, and a couple of Bronzes at 150. I was like a slot machine addict. I restored my team to its tip-top shape, and got stuck in again.
And still couldn’t win. I soon ran out of contracts again, but couldn’t stand the thought of wasting five minutes going back and getting some more.
So I dug down into the depths of my Club, snatching up some players who’ve never played a minute for me.
‘C’ Team players. Any nationality, any formation. “Can you play? You’re in!”
This is the near-the-bottom-of-the-barrel team that I sent out to play against the Team of the Week on World Class difficulty:
That RM hasn’t had a game for me since the very first day of Ultmate Team. Called out of retirement with a few buddies, what did he do for me?
My Chemistry dropped to about 55, and it showed.
This was the soundest thrashing you ever did see. The CPU didn’t just beat me. It totally whupped me. Possession was the only thing I ‘won’ in this match:
Ultimate Team incentivises you to keep playing properly right to the end of every match, as it awards bonus Coins for goals, and deducts Coins the more goals you concede.
Check the heatmap of the two teams’ shots—the blue dots are my shots, the green ones are the AI’s.
What strikes me about the FIFA13 AI is how prone it is to trying decent potshots from range, as well as the tippy-tappy-turny stuff from close in.
I did have some opportunities that I worked around the box, but they always seemed to break down at the last.
So back I went for more contracts. I locked down all my top players with Contracts, but had to pick a Bronze no-name, Diego Anton, at CF. Decent pace, but not much else going for him.
This time I defended so determinedly that you could have used my jaw as a ruler to draw straight lines with.
0-0 it was, and 0-0 it looked like ending. There’s no extra time or penalties in the TotW challenge. You either win in 90 minutes, or you don’t.
In the last seconds of added-on time, that striker-for-a-day, Diego Anton, burst into space on the edge of the box with the ball.
I love the right-stick in FIFA, and tapped it twice to knock the ball out of his feet and get away from the covering defender. This was the moment. The chance for me to finally win the match I’d gone all Moby Dick about. The chance for Diego Anton to become a club legend instantly. Diego Anton must score!
I gave up after that. Maybe I’ll beat the next Team of the Week. In the meantime, I’ve got a Season to complete, and Division 2 to head for.