I’ve played FIFA for previous long spells during the past five-and-a-half years of PES Chronicles. Look at this FIFA08 post (and that Motorola Razr video!) from June 2008. And this one from July 2008, where I reached 500 games played on FIFA08. Most in Manager Mode, but some online.
And this FIFA09 post was just the start of a long, long run on that game back in February 2009. I got so deep into the awful Manager Mode that I described Pavlyuchenko as ‘the Schwarz of FIFA09′.
So there’s considerable precedent for a good long FIFA spell now. We shall see.
I’ve begun a Silver-level season in Ultimate Team in FIFA13. Here are the opponents I’ve got coming up (three other teams are off the bottom of the screen), and the difficulty levels I’ll be playing them on.
MK Dons and Bournemouth on Semi-Pro. The rest of them on Professional.
You can change the difficulty pre-match, up or down, if you wish, adjusting the amount of Coins you win in both cases.
But I like to stick to the default difficulty. I’m still taking the measure of Ultimate Team and want to experience it as much ‘out of the box’ as possible.
Thumped MK Dons 4-0 on Semi-Pro, which included a hat-trick from my hotshot striker. Then I ground out a tough 1-0 win against Oldham on Professional, then drew 1-1 with Tranmere.
Ultimate Team integrates smoothly into general life by being available at pretty much any time via web or phone app. The other day I passed an exciting half-hour at work bidding on a cheap CB to fit into my formation. I was eventually outbid.
Just now I opened up the webapp to grab the screenshot of my current squad, and spent ten minutes tweaking things.
It’s a fun and interesting thing to occupy myself with at random moments during the day.
As a gamer, I appreciate Ultimate Team’s extracurricular trappings. It might be the weekend before I actually get to play the game again. The web and phone apps both offer a way of keeping in touch. I can’t wait until I get enough Coins to be able to do some serious Redknapp-style wheeler-dealering, instead of minor tinkering.
Chemistry demands that you play CMs as CMs—no playing CAMs or RMs/LMs as CMs. They can only be CMs.
So I found a nice couple of Spanish CMs within my budget to fill the gap, slotted them in, and hey presto—100% team chemistry. That’s even with one non-Spaniard in the starting XI, Coventry City’s Irish striker Stephen Elliott, who hates the 4-3-1-2.
Now the challenge will be keeping them all fit and available for selection. Which I’ve already found is nigh on impossible. If it’s not low fitness, it’s contracts running out. That is a huge mechanic in Ultimate Team. I’ve start hoarding contracts cards like some kind of survivalist stockpiling tins of baked beans.
I’m working on a shadow squad—a ‘B’ team if you will—called ‘PES Chronicles’. It plays a 4-2-2-2, similar to my Master League formation. They’re all Bronze at the moment, as I plan on entering them in the Bronze-only competitions. I just spent a few minutes browsing the online auction house for players to fit.
I think I’ll go for mixed nationalities, and see if I can get the chemistry up by other means.
How’s the FIFA13 gameplay? This is more important than anything else.
It’s pretty good. I like it so far. I was mistaken to think it a bit hollow and empty after the demo all those months ago. It’s like anything. You’ll tend to see it through the prism of whatever your current obsession is. Thus, in the midst of PES and Master League, FIFA seems poor; but give it a chance, give it a chance…
Passing and shooting are both fine—interestingly, with lesser-skilled players, there are a few instances of wrong-side shooting, a la PES2012.
My star man, Bueno, playing in the ‘Cantona hole’, scores an average of two goals per game with eerie regularity. He’s very reminiscent of that early striker you get in Master League who is special in ways that transcend what he looks like on paper.
Here’s a mini-compilation of Bueno—in lovely 720p resolution, 2013-stylee:
The first goal is of a variety (finesse, edge of box) that was worryingly easy on FIFA12, at times, but seems less so on FIFA13.
The second, third, and fourth goals are a hat-trick against MK Dons in that first league game of my Silver campaign. They’re all bread-and-butter goals, really, and scored on pretty low difficulty to boot. I only include them for curiosity value, as part of what might become my Ultimate Team origin story, all being well.
It’s often hard to get a clean shot away. Working the ball to the 18-yard line attracts a swarm of AI players all with one thing on their mind: stopping you taking a shot. And they do stop you. Regularly.
You have to play football, work a chance, using little lay-offs and back-heels.
This week has been all about getting to know Ultimate Team and seeing if I could live within its confines. I certainly can do that. It’s not Master League, nor even Career Mode—but that’s the point. I’ve reached a state of exhaustion with that model of football game.
Now the question is: FIFA13′s gameplay. What about that? Can it do the business over time? I’ve touched on it above, but I’ll talk about that in detail next week.