Category: FIFA11

Viva Las Vita

Between the end of PES2012 and the beginning of FIFA12, a breathing space. I have started a new Career Mode in FIFA12, but not got very far. I’m still in the first transfer period of the first season. Gaming time has been very limited over the past few days, and there are other distractions (see below).

I am already missing the crazy bizarro world of Master League, for what it’s worth. ML’s fantasy football element is roundly mocked in some quarters, but is really its secret strength.

But FIFA12’s Career Mode has come a long way this year. And, in its own way, the CM world can be just as fantastical. I’ll tell all on Monday.

The PlayStation Vita (or PSP2, as at least I would’ve been happy to call it) arrived last Tuesday. Delivered by a man who seemed to be driving his own car. He was wearing a yellow hi-visibility waistcoat, as if that automatically made him official. Which I suppose it did.

The Vita is an amazing little piece of kit. First of all, it’s very light, and surprisingly thin. It is very w–i–d–e, which accounts for all the pre-release grumbles about its size.

Setup was a pain in the arse, due to a Day 1 system update and some bad design of the setup process. Setup wanted me to login to PlayStation Network using my existing ID, but it wouldn’t allow me to log in until I’d installed the system update, and I couldn’t install system update without logging into PSN… Fuck’s sake!

There was no way out of the trap. In the end I had to set up a new PSN account in order to get access to System Update, allow the Vita to update itself, and then login to PSN with my proper ID. Whoever designed the Vita setup process thing needs to get together with whoever designed PES2012’s shooting and whoever designed PES2012’s Master League. And all go to live on an island together somewhere. (What if they’re all the same person?!)

It was worth it. The screen pops right out at you. Remember how amazing the PSP was—a PS2 in your hands? Well, the Vita really is more of the same, only this time of course, it’s a PS3 nestling snugly in your hands.

I got FIFA Soccer and Uncharted with the Vita. What I didn’t get was a memory card, assuming that a basic one would come with it, and that I didn’t need one to play the games anyway. The Vita’s games, if you didn’t already know, are on little micro SD-like cards. I assumed that, like the DS, the games would record save data onto the cards themselves…

And some do do that. FIFA does it. Uncharted, alas, does not. I had to hurriedly mail-order a Vita memory card, which is due to arrive sometime Friday.

In the meantime, I’ve been playing FIFA Soccer. It’s pretty good, you know, but looked at dispassionately, forgetting that it’s running on a handheld, it’s not the greatest footy game in the world. It’s as close to FIFA11 as it is to FIFA12—and I disliked FIFA11. The old-school FIFA defensive ‘system’ (if it could be called that) consisted of squeezing one (at most two) buttons and waiting for the ball to be returned to your possession. Literally, that’s all it took. It’s the same on the Vita.

FIFA Soccer on the Vita is what I think of as a typical launch-day football game. It’s pretty good, and there’s a great deal of novelty in seeing it run on this hardware, but it won’t last me a long time.

Here’s my first goal, played in my traditional opening football game match, England vs Scotland:

In truth I can’t wait for my memory card to get here so I can play Uncharted and start moving my PSP purchases onto the console. And what will PES2012(PSP) run like on Vita? There might be more Master League coming my (and the blog’s) way sooner than I think, you know…

Ah, but now I am playing FIFA12 on the Xbox360 as my main football game. I have commenced Career Mode. It is going well. All will be revealed on Monday.

FIFA11: end of

Every September for 4 years now, I’ve done brief ‘end-of-year’ reviews of the FIFA and PES games. It’s a way of drawing a line under the footy game year that is (once again!) almost at an end. It’s also interesting to see just what my final conclusions are after 12 months with a football game.

I’ll get to PES2011 on Friday. Today it’s the turn of FIFA11.

A Handful of Dust

When preparing for this review, I looked to see how often I’ve blogged about FIFA11 over the past year.

I post three times a week, every week. That’s roughly 160 posts since FIFA11 came out.

I checked how many posts I’ve published that bear the tag ‘FIFA11’.

Excluding this post, and excluding my posts about the FIFA11 demo, the number is: 10.

Ten posts.

I have blogged just ten times about one of the most sophisticated and praised football games of all time. What does that say about FIFA11? Or what does that say about me?

The Undeniable Good Stuff

There’s no denying what FIFA11 does well. It looks great. It moves superbly.

The quality I refer to as a football game’s ‘handling’ is, for the most part, fluid and responsive. I like it.

Passing is a joy, at times.

For the first time in next-gen FIFA history, I found the shooting to be meaty and satisfying. It was still eccentric at times, to my PES-schooled expectations, but it was better than decent.

FIFA!!! Y U No Have ML???

But there is a critical factor missing from FIFA11, as it was missing from FIFA10 before it, and indeed from all the next-gen FIFAs.

There’s nothing I wanted to do in FIFA11.

There’s nothing I wanted to play on it.

I don’t care about online football gaming. I don’t think I ever will.

I’m a single-player football gamer, and I will not be persuaded that I’m wrong to be such.

FIFA11 lacks anything like a worthy offline mode. That’s the bulk of the issue, for me, right there.

Career Mode is… nothing to me. Which is an improvement in many ways. It’s difficult for me to summon up any of the ire I directed towards Manager Mode. Career Mode is nothing. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s just nothing.

Heart and Soul

Its gameplay has problems too—problems that, when accompanied by the lack of things I want to do, are fatal.

FIFA11’s much-talked-about lack of player individuality contributes to a certain feeling of emptiness. Often I found myself just pressing buttons, moving the ball about, yearning for a spark of something to enliven things.

The giant turd in FIFA11’s punchbowl remains its sprint-clamp/pressure defensive mechanic. You know: hold a couple of buttons, get the ball back. Yes, that.

I appreciate that many are puzzled and/or amused as to why sprint-pressure is such a big deal for me.

I’m puzzled about why it isn’t a big deal for others.

Overpowered ball-winning techniques have no place in a serious football game. Defending in FIFA11 is far too often a matter of squeezing a few buttons and waiting.

It’s the football game equivalent of autofire.

Last year I opined that sprint-clamp would destroy FIFA all over again if EA allowed it to. I await FIFA12 with interest, but not much hope. A change of policy is needed, but will the online masses tolerate it?

Things could have been so different.

Knowing The Score

In 2009, looking back at a year of FIFA08, I felt justified in saying: “FIFA08 is arguably the most significant football game since the original ISS on the PS1”.

I stand by that. (It’s a great shame EA didn’t.)

A year later, hot on the heels of my longest spell with a FIFA game, I gave FIFA09 8.5/10 as well. It was a better game than FIFA08 in many ways, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I wasn’t really wanted… Single-players seemed to be an afterthought. Everything, itseemed, was geared towards online play.

Last year, I had a persistent feeling that FIFA was a series in decline all over again. I couldn’t gel with FIFA10, despite what I still recall as some of the most amazing first few hours with a football game ever.

Yet again, the problem was a lack of things for me to do with the game. I gave FIFA10 a score of 8/10, which I now think was very generous indeed.

FIFA’s problem now is that it’s changing back. The bad old days are just around the corner for next-gen FIFA. They may already be here.

My end-of-year review-style score for FIFA11 is: 6/10.

The end is nigh

Over the past few years, the weeks of early-to-mid September have become the strangest weeks of the football game year.  Like everything else these days, it’s all the Internet’s fault.

By this stage the next game already feels as if it’s a known quantity. It’s like the game is already out, and we’re being prevented from playing it by some kind of unfairness.

In years past I’ve soothed the passage of these weeks by following discussions on the PES forums.

This year, I’m abstaining from the forums. I do still drop in once or twice a day to take their temperature and check that nothing amazing has happened. The PES forums alerted me to the PC demo leaking early. (That was all of 2 long, long weeks ago now.) I like to make sure that nothing of comparable stature has happened from day to day.

Currently I’m just pottering along, planning my end-of-year reviews of the two games.

And I have still been playing, of course. I am always playing some damn football game or other. I keep promising myself to finally crack open my copy of Bioshock 2, but I always seem to come back to football games.

Over the past few days, I have:

  • played PES6(360)
  • played FIFA11
  • played PES2011

The most raw enjoyment came from the first, oldest, and crudest game of the three. I played several matches of season 2016 in my Master League career. Time flew by, one match leading to another in a perfect rhythm. PES6(360) just has no right to be so good.

I played FIFA11 for half an hour. I’m supposed to be preparing for my end-of-year review of this game. I lasted for all of two matches before turning it off.

I know I’ve been unfair to FIFA11 (as I also was to FIFA10). I know there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. But I’m not sure how much more. And I’m not sure that I feel all that obligated to give it that extra chance.

I’m a hobbyist blogger. I’m not a reviewer. I’m not some fancypants critic. I’m definitely not any kind of j-j-j-journalist, for God’s sake.

All I am is a strange loner, scratching on the walls of my cell in an obscure corner of the Internet.

Therefore my end-of-year FIFA11 review could be composed of ‘lol wut’ and it would not be unreasonable. Uncharacteristic, yes, but not unreasonable.

When I played PES2011 after FIFA11, by comparison, it felt so good. But PES2011 has been the most problematic PES game for me since PES2008(PS3). Sigh. PES2011’s end-of-year review will also be a tricky one, for a whole different set of reasons.

Both of those end-of-year reviews should follow this week. Time is galloping onward, oh yes.

FIFA11 hacked down in the box!

So it’s March 2011 in my Career Mode career in FIFA11. Will I complete even one full season in it this year? I think I will play FIFA11 until at least this weekend, so it’s possible. But I’m playing 6-minute halves, and only getting through 4 matches per day on average, so it’ll be tight. Currently I doubt I’ll play FIFA11 ever again after this week is up.

I love the idea of next-gen FIFA. I really liked FIFA08 and FIFA09. But last year, after an amazing first few days, I struggled to find anything to like in FIFA10. And this year, FIFA11 has been my most neglected FIFA since the bad old days of the PS2-era games.

It could be lots of things. The most likely reason is that PES2010 and PES2011 finally mustered up enough next-gen substance to keep me away from FIFA10 and FIFA11 long enough for the latter two games both to seem alien and rather hollow to me.

Or it could be that next-gen FIFA really did peak with FIFA09, and the irresistible force of gravity has been bringing the series back down to earth ever since.

Whatever the reason is, with the FIFA12 demo less than a month away, FIFA11 is not going to make a miracle comeback. (Or a late appearance off the substitute’s bench, to indulge in the kind of scattergun footballing metaphor-making that we’ll be seeing a lot more of over the next few months. I can’t wait to see the first review that’s framed as an imaginary football match between PES and FIFA!)

Career Mode in FIFA11 is much more polished and substantial than it used to be. The main problem I have is with the football gaming itself.

It’s hard to say what is so wrong about FIFA’s gameplay. It’s easy to blame the frantic pace of the game. Indeed, at times there are whole periods when it’s just a constant turnover of possession in the middle third. And don’t get me started about the passing. I’ve gone from being a huge fan of next-gen FIFA’s semi-assisted passing to a frowning doubter. Of course, this is all no doubt due to lack of familiarity, or indeed over-familiarity with the mechanics of PES.

Whatever it is, another few sessions should see me start to improve and enjoy a better quality of game. We’ll see.

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Gamescom week, and for the first time in all the years it’s been on, I don’t really care. Last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, I was agog with excitement, checking all the major sites as the day progressed. This year, for whatever reason, I’m considerably less agog.

I’m not totally indifferent. I’ll make do with dropping in on the key sites and forums later tonight and over the next few days, to see how things are going. It’s always interesting to follow the ups and downs of the PESverse’s annual vigil at this time of year, as the game moves towards completion and release

It’s a harmless pastime, even if it is accompanied by a certain dread. The game we hear about now is unlikely to be the one we end up playing. What might Konami be doing to the game behind closed doors? I will never forget or forgive PES2011’s last-minute addition of the stumble animation. Never.

 

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