Category: FIFA10

The FIFA’s so bright, I gotta wear shades

I have played the opening matches of a Career Mode with a created PES United team in FIFA12. I put them into nPower League 2, replacing Hereford. Being able to create your own team and play with them in Career Mode has taken a long time to come back to FIFA.

It was all eerily similar to the opening few matches with the Defaults in a PES Master League. I got hammered 0-3 and 0-6 by Barnsley and Schalke in pre-season. I tweaked the gameplay sliders to balance things out a bit and held on for a 0-0 draw against Lens. My first league match was also a 0-0 draw.

Credit is due to Creation Centre user ‘bongowongo7’ for getting the look and feel of the PES Defaults so spot-on. At the time of writing, his creation has still only been downloaded twice. Presumably that’s by me and him. The man’s work deserves a wider audience!

I won’t be continuing this PES United career. Maybe if I had more time, I think I would. With those players and that team, it’d be intriguing to build them up and get one or two good new players and see where it all takes me. Just how closely might the experience mirror Master League?

Career Mode generally seems much improved. I should have time for most of a season’s play between now and PES2012. I’ll be keeping a finger on Career Mode’s pulse and watching for any signs of a flutter. But I consistently hear good things about the mode this year.

Well, as threatened, I made myself a Schwarz in FIFA12—but haven’t played much with him. I played through a couple of FA Cup tournaments with my custom Coventry City on low difficulty settings, just to get a feel for the overall package.

My idyllic opening few days with FIFA12 have been disrupted by a bout of man-flu.

On Monday I started to develop a sniffle. By Tuesday it’d turned into a right stinker of a cold, of the kind I haven’t had in years. It brought on the kind of constant, heavy-limbed lethargy where you find yourself watching your TV regional news for the first time in a decade. (Bob Warman, veteran anchor for Central News, is looking old nowadays.)

So I haven’t played much since Monday night. By then, I had played enough to deepen my gut feeling that there is  something very different about this edition of FIFA. Something very welcome.

FIFA12 has so far not turned out to be another FIFA10. Two years ago I accorded FIFA10 the most rapturous reception I’ve given to any new football game on this blog. But just a few days later, I was back playing PES6(360).

FIFA12 hasn’t been like that. So far.

Over the past few years I have often lamented the fact that, in my view, EA have turned their backs on the promise shown with FIFA08, and steadily taken the series the wrong way.

FIFA12 is a turn back in the right direction. Tactical Defending has changed the nature of the game. Previously, holding one or two buttons in conjunction with sprint would win you back the ball 95% of the time. I gradually lost all respect for FIFA over the past few years due to that feature.

In FIFA12, things are different enough to make the game feel fresh and challenging again.

So what’s next for me? Recovery from the cold is underway today, Wednesday. I feel up to some footy gaming again.

Browsing the Creation Centre this morning, I see that other users have been busy making their own PES Uniteds. There are currently about 5 different ones.

One version in particular caught my eye, created by user ‘dezabeza89’. Cheekily, dezabeza89 has used the official PES logo for the club badge. Get it while you can.

The team is strong, rated 82 OVR, with the players all in the 70s and 80s OVR. A mix of old-school and new-school names. The GK is Inorov. Shimizu and Palmieri are there from the start. This is something like the custom PES United I was going to make if I had time.

I’ll be playing with them over the next few days in Career Mode.

FIFA10: one year later

Hey, will you look at that. The nights are drawing in (in the northern hemisphere, anyway). There are new football games within smelling distance. It’s time for my end-of-year ‘review’ of the two football games, starting today with FIFA10.

I’m going to keep these ‘reviews’ brief. 600 words or less. Really, the whole year has been my review.

I’ve already written tens of thousands of words about both games. The present few hundred are more by way of formal summary than anything really new.

So, FIFA10. It started with a bang for me. My full game first impressions post was over the top, but as I keep saying: I’m a blogger, not a reviewer.

Indeed, some gaming blogs do present themselves as magazines in web form. But this blog is not like that. It’s a thrice-weekly diary in which I record the progress of my ever-changing interactions with football games. There is no set editorial-style position or attitude towards FIFA, or PES, or anything.

Those FIFA10 first impressions were rather gushing and over the top. I’m a little red-faced, looking back on it now. But I stand by that post. It was a totally accurate representation of my experience on that day—on October 2nd, 2009.

I can’t remember ever finding a new football game so sensationally great as I found FIFA10 at first. Not even the great Pro Evos of the past took my breath away like FIFA10 did. For a few weeks, with some ups and downs, I was happy.

But then PES2010 came along, and to my surprise the all-new Master League was so good that it swept me away for 8 months.

The record shows I did not seriously try to play FIFA10 again until May 2010. Oh, I’d had a few pick-up-and-play one-off sessions, from time to time. But they were never very long ones. I’m not capable of playing two football games concurrently.

And when I did come back to FIFA10 in May, I’d been spoiled. Not by PES2010’s gameplay. Oh no. I’d been spoiled by Master League.

So I came back to FIFA10, and all it had to offer me was Manager Mode. I never play Online. I never play anything else, really, but career modes in football games. (Another reason why this blog really should be seen for what it is: one bloke’s diary.)

Manager Mode was bad in FIFA08. It was bad again in FIFA09. In FIFA10, it had the distinction of opening out new vistas of badness. Not only was it just as relatively devoid of life as its predecessors, this time it was bugged to hell and back.

As for FIFA10’s gameplay… It’s pretty good most of the time. At times it’s sublime.

Often, though, the gameplay collapses under the weight of its own worst enemy: the ubiquitous sprint-pressure mechanic that will ultimately destroy FIFA all over again if EA don’t do something about it.

And the representation of player individuality is very poor. It’s there, and it’s a bit better than it was in 08 and 09, but it’s still crude and unsatisfying compared to a certain other football game’s way of doing things.

And then there’s the speed of the game. I don’t like how fast FIFA10 plays, even on Slow. That’s a personal quirk of mine, I know.

I’m not sure I like the direction FIFA has taken since FIFA08. That game—FIFA08—was a step away from the bad old days towards something unique in football gaming. I remember a lot of people at the time comparing it favourably to PES1, and I remember agreeing with them.

FIFA09 saw things take a slight turn for the worst in my opinion, but the game was still recognisably building on the foundation laid by FIFA08.

FIFA10, in my year-long considered view, is a further step away from the rugged simulation values of FIFA08. It’s definitely not the arcade-’em-up that FIFA sceptics love to paint it as (those same sceptics who will cheerfully admit never having played it). But I’ve got my fingers crossed that FIFA11 will be a huge step back from the precipice above the slippery slope leading to the yawning chasm that I think EA are inching towards.

On the whole I have to be honest in assessing my final review-style score. For the score to make sense in the context of the blog, it’s got to be based what I made of a game—on how I’ve played it (or didn’t play it).

I gave FIFA08 and FIFA09 both 8.5/10 in their end-of-year reviews. I talked up their gameplay. I was an enthusiast for the next-gen FIFA project. I still am an enthusiast, but I just can’t rate FIFA10 based entirely on its gameplay. For me, great games need great game modes, and FIFA10 is conspicuously lacking. And this has gone on for three years now. Which is far too long.

So my long-considered, end-of-year, review-style score for FIFA10 is 8/10.

Which is still pretty generous, considering I hardly played it until May, and then struggled to play it for very long thereafter. It’s a reflection of how highly I rate the core gameplay, for all the game’s many other faults.

Sigh. Now, if only FIFA11 comes complete with a good ‘career mode’…

World Class revelation

Almost the second week of September. We’re nearly there, people.

One way or the other, barring an unthinkable catastrophe, I’ll be playing PES2011 this Wednesday. At the moment, the PS3 demo will only be downloadable for PS+ subscribers. And no one else.

I’ll become one of the PS+ posse, if I have to be. But I’m waiting to see if there’s a late, late announcement of the Xbox360 demo.

Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to Wednesday.

I’ve just spent a very interesting weekend playing FIFA10. In most respects it was my happiest time on the game since last October. I think I know why. I played it on World Class.

World Class is the difficulty level I played FIFA09 on all last year. And I really got on quite well with FIFA09, as my posts from summer 2009 show very clearly.

Until this weekend I’d played FIFA10 on Professional difficulty most of the time. That was just how it worked out. I always seemed to be coming back to FIFA10 after long periods away from it, and trying to ‘bed down’ again.

FIFA10 on World Class is a much better game than on Professional. I played my Coventry City Manager Mode save. In session 1 on Friday morning my record was something like Played 6, Won 0, Drawn 2, Lost 4 Scored 2, Conceded 11.

I’ve improved since. By Sunday morning it was more like Played 6, Won 3, Drawn 2, Lost 1, Scored 6, Conceded 5.

The matches are fascinating and deep. Just crafting a chance seems like an achievement. I wish I’d stepped up to World Class before now.

Master League in PES2010 has had the most influence on my up-and-down relationship with FIFA10. Master League shaped my expectations. I knew what I wanted, and FIFA10 just couldn’t deliver. I’ll stop before I get into another rant about Manager Mode.

Here are two goals I scored on FIFA10 over the weekend. The first is a 45-yarder. The second is a bit more conventional, but just as satisfying to me in context.

Link: FIFA10 - September Goals

Regular readers will be aware of how much I love long-distance goals. I loved the 45-yarder a lot. Particularly as it put the seal on a 2-0 win over Arsenal.

It’s the kind of goal that many next-gen FIFA nay-sayers believe are scored routinely in every match. Whilst doing the tricks that are allegedly so easy to do, of course.

I’d been trying to score a goal like this for a while now, but it never quite came off. I finally got one, and it felt so good.

The second goal felt to me like a fine example of semi-assisted shooting at its very best. As the through-ball approached I knew what I wanted to do, and did it. I wanted to hit the ball on the stride and tuck it just inside the opposite post. I got the aim spot-on, and the timing and power too, and the result was a goal that had me grinning all over my stupid face.

Next-gen FIFA can do ‘special feelings’. It can be immersive. It can do great gameplay. But there’s still the age-old-problem: what the blinking bejesus am I supposed to do with it?

For many, one-off matches are enough. For others, Leagues and Cups are enough. Ultimate Team. Online play. Some or all of these things are more than enough for a lot of people.

At the time of writing, I’ve already started to tire of Manager Mode. Is anyone at all mourning its passing? I have particular needs from a football game. I’ll be very interested to see what FIFA11’s Career Mode is like.

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?