Ultimate play the game

Saadi FIFA13

Over the weekend I had a great couple of sessions with FIFA13 and Ultimate Team, probably my best time with a FIFA game since the days of FIFA09. History suggests a return to PES, tail between my legs, around about now—two weeks with FIFA being my average over the past few years. Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Not yet anyway.

The emptiness I alluded to in Friday’s post has been filled. The game has come alive. It’s gone from feeling like a bit of fun and a nice rest from Master League, to feeling like a serious football game with serious credentials.

It all started when I decided to play the Team of the Week on World Class difficulty. The prospect of a 600 Coins bonus looked too good to miss.

It was one of the best single football computer games I’ve ever played.

The TotW swept over me in exactly the way I wanted them to. I resisted for a while, learning a great secret about Tactical Defending: it’s all about the containment. Charging into the opposition and taking the ball from them isn’t the ‘right’ thing to do. It’s just what we’ve become used to from PES.

I was doing quite well, I thought, when I went 0-1 down to a goal that was rifled in on the break.

Against all odds I brought things back to 1-1 on 70 minutes. I had a half-chance that the keeper fumbled into the path of another striker. (The FIFA13 keepers, good as they otherwise are, fumble the ball a bit too much for my liking.) I took the ball wide, and slotted it home with the keeper scrambling to make up the ground. It looked great, and felt wonderful—my first punch-the-air moment of Ultimate Team.

There are so many touches that make FIFA13 good game. Nudging a CPU player as he’s trying to trap the ball near the touchline, so he runs it out for a throw-in. The keeper releasing the ball INSTANTLY, and being able to control the direction and power of his throw. I even like conceding penalties where I don’t know what they’re for. You can get them for you too. (I have handball turned on in the options.)

I conceded a dodgy penalty that I was fuming about, because I couldn’t see what I’d done wrong. My player jumped with their player, and if anything the foul should have gone my way, and…

Anyway, I ended up conceding another one while pushing for a faint hope of an equaliser. Bang went my 600 Coins bonus.

More than anything, what I took from this match was that FIFA13 is at its most formidable as a football game on World Class and (hopefully) above. Professional is a good game, but not as good.

Perhaps this is the stage I’ve never got to in previous years. I wanted to try Ultimate Team in part to give myself this different experience of FIFA, to let the gameplay sink in.

I’ve also found a camera setting I love. I had been playing with a sort of PS2-era PES-type of camera—remember, the camera panning (1-9!) one where it’s rooted near the halfway line—but the angles made the passing all weird, and prone to break down too easily due to my error.

I now play with the Tele camera. Height: 5. Zoom: 0.

Here are some weekend goals, all scored ‘only’ on Professional difficulty. My favourite first:

The second one was sweetly hit—you really feel that in FIFA13, when you hit it just so. The striker there is Saadi, one of my old Bronze strikers who was only playing because I’d run out of contracts cards for my main striker. That goal won him a place in my Ultimate Team that he still has. Yep, the individuals are starting to emerge. This thing is really starting to take off now.


  1. NG/Uncle – it was weird…the ref didnt see it to start with…i may have bumped into the Groeningen player a bit…then after 5 secs and the camera following my winger the camera zoomed on the injured player and the ref stopped play. He then restarted with a toss in(ooer)The Groeningen lot politely punted the ball out fora throw in. A lot of the time the Fifa players crumple a bit after the tackle..realistic?..probably
    I may pressed R1 …i just mash when it comes to defending

  2. Werd Llitrah—I don’t especially value realism in football games. Of course it’s always nice to have and helps with atmosphere, but a compelling game of football isn’t necessarily one that’s festooned with realistic moments. Realistic touches are add-ons rather than inherent components of a great game. So all the animations and little touches in the world won’t make FIFA a great game for you. It’s only in the hurlyburly of passing and moving and shooting and defending that a great footy game stands or falls, IMO.

  3. I’ll maybe give that UPnP a go then, it was the EA Server that died not the connection to anything else, I was able to sign straight back in but obviously lost my progress and coins in that tournament, probably still used my Contract allowance too.
    Has anyone saved any goal replays to the replay theatre?
    The quality is atrocious, so much so that its barely watchable, kinda defeats the whole purpose of being able to save replays.

  4. Paul—I’ve saved a few to replay theatre but not watched them back. Anything worth recording I tend to use the phone for.

  5. NG – I know the bare bones make a footie game, the intangeable quality that both PES and Fifa have in spades. Its just nice to see bells and whistles for a change..but I do prefer PES’s argie bargie when 2 players nearly come to blows due to bad tackle(even the wife chuckled)..havent seen that in fifa..yet

  6. NG – when you get chance have a look, you’ll see what I mean, also if you didn’t set a starting keyframe during your replay all it will have uploaded is the last few secs of play, probably missing the goal altogether.

  7. Paul—it takes so long to save or upload anything that I only did it to check that it still takes ages, and it does. Don’t worry, I’m familiar with the keyframe thing. The number of FIFA09 replays I used to save with just the last few seconds of the ball back in the centre circle for the AI’s kickoff…

  8. Werd, thats because FIFA is licensed, its representing the governing body of world football by its name so therefore has to be whiter than white, thats why theres no heated exchanges between players (promoting violence) or ability to dive like you can in PES, cause its frowned upon by FIFA.

  9. Im quite looking forward to making a decent FIFA goal video, in full HD, haven’t done one since the World Cup 2010 game, which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArZP-SynyRU

    Just undecided as to how to approach the recording of goals, in PES i can save the replay and then use the HDPVR via component to record the footage later on, but with FIFA i think I’m gonna have to have the HDPVR setup via component and actually record the goals as they happen via the replay, which interrupts game play and flow a bit.

  10. Paul—great vid, and it was on the demo too I see. You’ve got more ‘previous’ with next-gen FIFA than me, that’s for sure. Even the two I played a lot of – 08 and 09 – only occupied me for part of their respective years.

    I’ve got my PES taste test thing coming up over the weekend. Going to try PES2010, PES2012, and PES2013. (Maybe PES5 too if I can be bothered to wait half an hour for Windows to update and restart etc.)

  11. Think PES 13 might be too familiar too son? maybe the same with PES12 seeing as its just a not-so-polished PES13, with wonky shooting.
    PES10 would be a fine choice, if playing a ML< which I doubt you will?

    I see XCOM is being released as a native Mac version soon.

  12. Paul – ahhh….PES is like the maverick Colombian(I think)League set up decades ago that lured all sorts of players over to it…tweaks evil moustache and cackles 🙂
    Still no Turkish league in Fifa..due to match fixing I believe or Ukrainan/Serbian teams(national or league due to racism?). I also miss the players being stretchered off by four clones in PES 5/6?

  13. Paul—it’s just the flavour of PES I’ll be sampling. I doubt I’ll actually play all 4 separate games. I still think PES2013 was the best we’ve seen all generation in terms of core gameplay. Shame about the ML. So the recent-ness of it is balanced by it being the best one IMO. I actually had PES2012 up and running the other night, but by the time I’d refamiliarised myself with the menus and advanced my ML save from the end of season 18 to the next season (simming the friendlies), my brief window of time was up and I never actually played. The point of playing that version would be to pull on the favourite old pair of trainers that that ML team was. Forlan and Hagi and Barnes and so on.

  14. Werd Llitrah—injury cut-scenes annoy me about football games. In real football, how many times when a player goes down injured, is he actually injured? Maybe 2% of the time. The other 98% of the time it’s the player having a rest or seeking a yellow/red card or just disrupting the flow of the match for tactical reasons. The whole ‘kick the ball out of play/ref stop the match’ thing when players go down ‘injured’ is an invitation to gamesmanship. The addition of such comprehensive injury cutscenes to PES and FIFA in recent years is a sign that their makers don’t really see what’s happening in football games most of the time when players go down ‘injured’.

  15. NG – funnily enough it looked as though those two “injuries”last night did seem a bit like time wasting :)..one came on a couple of mins later. Maybe a toggle on off for cut seens etc is needed ie Handball/offside etc.
    I’m jealous of your vintage wine/PES tasting. May go down to town on my lunch today and get that PES2010 for 99p I saw. Maybe it will find its way in to MY ps3 on Fri. It would be mental if 2010 was chosen tomorrow as my game of choice 🙂

  16. I quite like the injury cutscenes if only for the chance to see a favourite player up close. I even make a point of subbing in open play so as to see that backslapping hand shaking cutscene in PES. The one I REALLY hate is the booking/foul cutscene in PES where a player grabs the ref by the shoulder and spins him round to remonstrate about his decision. It’s been in for years now.

    Oh, still on the for treble in my last ML season. Coyborough scored a winning penalty in a shoot out vs Arsenal to put us in the FA Cup Final. Beat Real Madrid over two legs in the CL quarters and am now eight points clear at the top of the Prem with six to play.

    And without actually playing Fifa I made over a 1000 coins yesterday on trades.

  17. John – I also like the managers being implemented on the touchlines..and their head shaking if ya miss an open goal. I was also blown away when Linesmen turned up a few version ago(sad me). I miss the flag waving crowds and Also that weird cut scene from PES4/5/6? a dude in a cloth cap with his son/daughter in the crowd at the start of the match.

  18. I would expect Fifa to perhaps make more of managers in the next game but then again most of what they do ob the touchline could be seen as anti-football.

    Actually, imaging if there was a footy game that embraced all that is “wrong” in the game. The diving, cheating, dodgy decisions, petulant players, abusive fans, inter-club hatred and irrational managers. It would certainly give that game a USP.

  19. Werd Llitrah—I’d put money on you never having a single football game. You’ll most likely flit from one to the other. There’s no harm in that really. No law that you have to play one football game and stick with that.

  20. John—I wouldn’t like to see any of the trappings of real football in footy games. We’ve got too much as it is with the injury cutscenes (I’m sure you agree, the devs clearly don’t understand just what is happening in a professional football match when a player is ‘injured’).

  21. Well as an interested party I would really like to see a football game dispense with the play and focus on the real excitement and drama of the sport – namely the groundstaff managing the pitch. The thrills of adding fertiliser, the spills of watering the surface, the raw adrenalin of the mower coming out.

  22. Playing FIFA last night I realised I hadn’t seen a single case of handbags between the players like in PES.

    It also irritates me that the crowd are so pixelated.

  23. Chris99 – crowd pixelated in FIFA?
    compared to PES the crowd are amazing!

  24. Paul – I used to own a copy of Lawnmower Simulator on my old speccy (dubbed from a mate’s tape).
    The only thing worse than a Lawnmower Simulator is a Lawnmower Simulator in 2 colours… I doubt it maxed out the 48k of RAM to be honest

  25. Which ties in neatly with NG’s blog post title, funnily enough

  26. Talking of sims, I was just looking at Truck Simulator and a bus driving sim on the Apple app store. Amazing how popular those things are.

  27. Lawnmower simulator on a PS4 in 4k res would be bad enough but on the rubber keyed speccy!?!?!? Hahahaha i cant even begin to imagine what that looked like or entailed!!! madness!

    Just managed to sign a new Brazilian CB & RB at gold level on the FIFA UT web app, and was embroiled in a fierce bidding war for man Utd’s rafel, eventually lost that one.
    Have a pending bid winning for Oscar of Chelsea for only 250 coins at the moment.


  28. Chris99 – I heard EA they scaled back the Crowds in fifa this year…what about crowd simulator..I used to love faffng with Subbteo crowds.
    NG-I didnt buy PES2010 in the end..just went for me cottage pie. I have a hankering for watching films on Fri..but I must complete my experiment Igor.
    If I keep flitting I wont get the experience I want. Do you know that 2013 ML was the only actual league campaign I finished since PES 2008!!. To much dithering. Must be firm this year

  29. Chris99—the crowd behaviour in FIFA is good relative to PES, but yes, they didn’t spend a lot of time on the gfx for them. Still, they do the job. I think we’d all agree that for the perfect football game, the action could take place on a green rectangle hanging in an empty black void if the gameplay was good enough.

  30. John—I have often cast an eye over those simulator games as well, and see that Farming Simulator is a recent arrival on the Mac. I wonder about the lasting appeal of such games. Although I’ve never actually played one, unless a long tilt at a Harvest Moon game on the Gameboy about 10 years ago counts.

  31. Paul—beware the bots. This morning I saw Gold contracts going on auction for 150 Coins with 20 seconds left. Whoo-hoo, I thought, my lucky day, and put in my bids. Instantly the counter-bids came in, raising the price to 400 in a moment. Could only have been bots. I paged a few minutes ahead to see if there were any other Gold cards on 150, and clicked just to see what would happen. Counter-bids instantly.

  32. Werd Llitrah—if you have a PC, get yourself one of the old PES games and take a turn. Any laptop of today should run the games from 10 years ago without any trouble at all. PES5 and PES6 are sumptuous on PC.

  33. Must have been bots as the final gold card went for 1500+ coins, constant counter bids, every one right as the timer hit 0 secs – i ended up getting a similar Gold card, a 78 rated RB, Brazilian, in my favoured 4-2-2-2 formation for 800 coins, decent value i thought.

  34. Paul—the financial contstraints of UT really make you stick with players a lot longer than you otherwise would, I find. My core team of Silvers have now been with me since they crystallised over a week ago, and I’m quite fond of them. Nowhere near Master League-levels of fondness, of course, but there’s always Career Mode for that. UT continues to impress me as something different and diverting.

  35. Paul – I had Sid Meier’s Sim golf but it fell down after the initial course building was over (I used to teach golf course construction) and the actual golf started (I’m a terrible golfer).

    I find the best time to go on auctions is about 9am – very little sudden escalation, in fact very few bids on items. I now have 21% on my contracts and have starting grabbing Brazilians for the gold team. My bronzers are exclusively Italian. In return my fitness cards go well but I’m avoiding buying for resale as I’ve taken a couple of baths (bought for 700 went for 250 sort of stuff).

  36. Uncle Turf—it’s a sign of just how long I’ve been struggling to get good gaming time that my copy of Sid Meier’s Sim Golf is still in its shrinkwrap at the back of a drawer from 2003.

    After a couple of days of trying to gouge a large profit from player training cards, I’ve been forced to put them all up for 200 apiece, only 50 Coins dearer than I bought them for. I’ll be happy if some of them go for that price. One more failed auction and I’m just going to keep them for myself.

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