Category: FIFA15

You are tearing me apart, FIFA!

Tearing me apart FIFA

No, I haven’t decided yet. The post title and the picture above (bonus points if you get the reference) refer to my near-certainty, a week ago, that I’d be playing PES2014 by today. Instead, FIFA16 has come along to throw a spanner in the works.

PES2014 was pretty much a lock-in to be my football game of the near future. It has so much going for it. Fully patched, it bears little resemblance to the horror show that repulsed nearly all PES aficionados (me included) some two years ago.

The graphics remain poor by our new standards, and the loading times are atrocious. It takes far too long to get from the view below to actually playing. We are truly spoiled now.

PES2014 pre-match

But as every PES fan knows, you can overlook anything if gameplay scratches the PES itch. PES2014 really does do that. (Patched, I should keep saying.)

FIFA16 was always a possibility, but a lesser one. I thought PES2014 should come first.

Last week a semi-regular commenter, stewdog, remarked about how good a time he was having on Be A Pro in FIFA16. Okay, I thought, and fired up my old copy of FIFA15 for a play.

One thought led to another thought, and on Christmas Eve I bought FIFA16 in the PSN January sale (thirty quid: still steep, but what the hell, it’s Christmas).

not-Greg arrives FIFA16That’s my existing EA Gameface on the player up there. It looks nothing like me. Peculiar, really, as the last time I used my Gameface (FIFA12?) the resemblance was quite strong. This version bothered me and I ended up changing it back to a generic look.

Before sampling BaP, I played a bit of regular International tournament as England, and really enjoyed it.

I like what FIFA16 seems to be trying to do. Considering I’m playing the digital download version with its multiple patches since launch, this still seems to me to do a few very important good things.

When receiving the ball, with one or two defenders at my back, I found myself often trying to perform silly three-point turns with the ball at my feet and then sprinting off into space. It’s doable, but it’s not so much a guaranteed move that it’s your first instinct. It’s a move so fundamental to PES2016 that it seems shocking not to be ‘allowed’ to do it in FIFA16.

The players often seem clumsy and slow. They have poor first touches sometimes. Contrary to current football-gaming orthodoxy, this is an overwhelmingly GOOD thing.

I don’t want my players to have instant response to input – online players do tend to want that, though, which is where PES2016 went massively wrong.

Where it aggravates many, I think, is when the unresponsiveness happens out of context, or seems overblown. It’s neither in FIFA16.

A brief word for FIFA16’s Passing With Purpose: I like it. It seems to add more tactical dimensions to general play. Individuality — for both passer and receiver — is enhanced with this feature.

I scored three goals in three matches in my fledgling Be A Pro career:

And what of PES2016? I won’t be going back to it now.

I did try to return. I fired up PES2016 and played a few matches on Superstar — really on Superstar this time.

The game felt the same. Too easy, and more than a bit too fluid. PES2016 is an online multiplayer game that solo players can get some enjoyment from too. It is enjoyable, but only up to a point, and I have passed that point. I’ve sucked all the juice out of PES2016. Maybe I’ll be back in the future, who knows? Never say never.

So the choice really now comes down to PES2014 or FIFA16.

At the moment I’m inclining toward the latter.

not-Greg scores FIFA16

If I go for FIFA16 I’ve got a new world to explore, and I’ve got all the PS4’s next-gen features to enjoy with it. PES2014 on the PS3 would be a technical step back that I might not be ready for yet. It feels awkward and intrusive to reach for the mobile phone to record a clip or take a screenshot. But something like that won’t stop me playing the footy game I want to play. Even the best FIFA has a habit of being great for a short time, and then not so great.

I really haven’t decided yet. But there are now definitely only two horses in the race.

Another day off for New Year’s Day means that my normal posting schedule will resume next Tuesday, 5th January. When the decision will have been made.

Here’s to 2016. My football gaming wish is for this to be the year when nobody says ‘The King Is Back!’, in any context, ever again.

FIFA15: A Retrospective Look

FIFA15 splash screen

When FIFA15 appeared last September, this blog wasn’t running. Over on UltraSoccerBlog, I commented a great deal about how I was playing and relishing FIFA15. Along with many others, we marvelled at how unexpectedly great this game had turned out to be.

The year before, I’d really liked FIFA14, but it hadn’t stood up to long-term play.

FIFA15 was different. Something that only became apparent after more than the couple of matches that many PES gamers probably gave it.

The AI had had some work done on it. Shooting was satisfying. Players felt heavy and solid. FIFA15 was the FIFA I’d been waiting for. I hadn’t felt like this about a new FIFA game since FIFA08 on the PS3.

I played Career Mode for 5 full seasons, with mostly great enjoyment and immersion. If I had been running the blog back then, we would now have a solid two months of FIFA15 posts to look back on here. A shame really.

Those posts would have recorded my mounting amazement at just how good FIFA15 was. Here are 3 goals – in a video made almost exactly one year ago – that capture the excitement of those early few weeks:

(Note the second goal’s falling-backwards, looping header to the opposite corner – a pleasing type of event that cropped up regularly enough to seem characteristic of FIFA15. Those headers mysteriously went missing from the gameplay after one of the patches. Shame on you, EA.)

FIFA15 had everything you could want in a Career Mode. The early seasons were very Master League-like (you know, back when early ML seasons were good).

FIFA15 had the best goalkeepers ever seen in a football game. The best graphics ever seen in a football game. One of the best shooting models ever seen in a football game.

FIFA15 had player individuality on about the same level as PES2015’s. Which says something about The State of PES, I know, but I’ll get to that on Friday.

PES2015 launched in November and proved to be a difficult game to love, so there were sporadic sessions of FIFA15 even then. But once my Master League did get going, FIFA15 quietly vanished off my radar. Other sporadic sessions took place, enough to get me through another season of Career Mode, making 6 in all. But never again would I match the heights of those first months last year.

In a parallel universe there’s a version of me who gave up on PES years ago. That version of me is probably playing FIFA15 at this very moment.

My final score for FIFA15 can only be a fully deserved


The only thing stopping me giving it a provocative 10/10 is the gameplay’s excessive speed – why can’t Slow mean slow? – and the tendency it has to break down into tedious tussles for possession. Also that wriggly, twisty-turny AI dribbling is just annoying. You can fall into a rut in a FIFA15 session that simply doesn’t happen in PES.

Overall, though? FIFA15 is just a great football game, and there’s no seriously denying it. The best FIFA ever made, and one of the best football games ever made.


This Friday: my end-of-year look back at PES2015.

Something of a clips show

Well. A certain stealth-em-up blockbuster of a game has come along and completely swept me away. I’ve played one single solitary game of football in the past 5 days. With the result that today’s blog is something of a clips show.

With one difference. In a TV clips show, all the clips are rehashes of old episodes that’ve been seen before.

All the clips in today’s post are new to the blog. None have been posted to date for various reasons.

Here’s the best goal I scored in that single solitary football game, played yesterday afternoon (Thursday 3/9), after a long and exhausting session on Metal Gear Solid V. After a couple of hours of tension, playing a football game seemed the most relaxing pastime in the world…

That’s from PES2014, and the nature of the above goal – defenders backing off and backing off – will give this game’s massive army of detractors fuel for their always-burning bonfire.

This is still only Professional difficulty, though, and PES2014 is a bizarre and eccentric game of football anyway, and you rarely see defending like the above. The defenders simply decided to go all PES2010 at this moment in time.

I loved the goal for the outswinging flight of the ball, as seen in the second angle.

(Advance warning: at some point over the next 12 months, I’m going to play PES2014 for a good while on the blog. It’s an itch I’ve decided has to be scratched. Whenever PES2016 grinds to a halt, be that by Christmas or spring or early summer next year, PES2014 is top of the to-play list. I appreciate this will greatly irritate those who have dismissed PES2014, but I need to do this.)

Here’s a left-back thumper from PES2015, scored about two months ago, Notable here is how I don’t turn to face the goal, but thump it in while facing the touchline:

Now another one from Stevie G, again in PES2015. This time I didn’t post it a few months ago because the one-minute-long clip encompasses half-time, and it seemed scruffy:

Here’s one from FIFA15, showing the events in single minute in a pre-season Career Mode match against Bari.

I concede a good goal to the AI, which features some deft AI play and a neat cross, and then I go up the other end and win a penalty – both good examples of things FIFA15 does miles better than PES2015.

I did score the penalty, which isn’t shown.

I’ve got plenty of other random odds and ends tucked away here and there. Haven’t we all? In the life of a football gamer there’s at least one moment every session, and usually more than one moment, to remember and reminisce about.

Two weeks today PES2016 will be out. Two weeks today, ShopTo and Royal Mail willing, I’ll have been playing it for at least one day.

I’m really looking forward to it, especially as I’ll spend 95% of my gaming time between now and then on MGSV. It’ll be good to get back in the footy game habit in a few weeks.

NEXT WEEK: The 2015 football game retrospective posts. I’ll begin with FIFA15 on Tuesday, and get to PES2015 on Friday.

And then it’ll be PES2016 release week – always one of my favourite times of this time of the year. Many people in various parts of the world always get the game early, and start posting impressions that worry and please us in equal measure.


Extra Time

There has been an interesting development. I’ve started playing… well, you’ll see what I’ve started playing.

Before getting to that, I persevered with my attempt to play FIFA15 again after a gap of several months and several hundred matches of PES2015.

I stand by my initial judgement that FIFA15 is a great game and one of the best football games ever made, but in a by-now-familiar story (that seems to happen every year), I can’t play it now.

It was going quite well. I scored this long-range beauty at the start of Season 7 of my Career Mode career:

(Note how Alan Smith in commentary refers to the ball flying into the ‘top-left’ corner of the net, when in fact it screams into the top-right corner of the net. A silly basic error that’s been in PES commentary for years, and persists in FIFA too.)

PES scholars have long disputed the merits of scoring long-range goals in FIFA, but the nay-sayers are, frankly, just plain wrong. It’s not 1999 anymore. Nowadays FIFA long-rangers are rare enough to be deeply satisfying.

There are different kinds of goals, too, and random moments like the following. Already 0-3 down to Chelsea, I plugged away looking for a consolation, and got it via a peculiar looping deflection – watch for a very realistic crowd reaction behind the goal during the replay:

Two good moments among many such moments.

But they don’t count, on the greater scale of things. FIFA is over for another year.

The problem with me and FIFA is that I’ve spent most of the past year conditioning myself to play PES, to the point where I automatically, instinctually, emotionally associate good football gaming with PES football gaming. This is a trend that’s been going on now for, oh, about 20 years, give or take.

This year as every year, FIFA’s time has passed. Its primetime was last September-November, with a brief flare-up in December. When I get to my end-of-year overview of the game, that primetime is the period I’ll be overviewing. It seems to me that FIFA15 was a much better game before the updates and patches started arriving.

Which all left me somewhat high and dry for a football game to play now, in these long, dead weeks before PES2016.

What would I do? PES5? PES2013? PES2010? What?

Well. In something of a PES Chronicles first, I have resumed playing….



The game that I thought was done and dusted some weeks ago.

The game that I ardently desired never to play again.

The game that I reached the point of exhaustion with, and ploughed on past it.

The disc was still in the PS4. That’s what did it. It was so easy just to start the game up. I had time yesterday afternoon before going to work and thought, why not?

I found a backup save that I’d made just before the end of my final Season 14 (as I thought at the time).

At that stage I was in the second leg of the semi-final of the Champions League, with a 4-0 aggregate lead form the first leg.

I knocked the difficulty down to Top Player, mindful of the slog that the game had become on Superstar, and jumped straight into that second leg.

Perhaps predictably, I absolutely loved it. Especially when this happened:

I know, I know. Peter Crouch as the floated through-ball specialist. Robben tucking it away with his weaker foot. (So what? And anyway, where did all the purists come from who snipe against things like that? What are their voices doing in my head? Why do I pay them any heed at all?)

Doesn’t matter. Played PES, felt great.

That felt good enough. Loved the feel of the passing, the shooting, the  pace of the game, the general ebb and flow of gameplay. PES2015, I needed reminding, is a GOOD game.

So I was already happy, and then this happened. This is the best I’ve seen from my PES2015 Stevie G in a long while – I loved the delicate little touch with the right knee to tee up the shot – BOOM:

That’s the explosive, joyful power of PES, right there. The ineffable something that FIFA still lacks.

This match was a bit of a cakewalk in the end. There were more goals and it ended something like 8-1 on aggregate.

I put the difficulty back up to Superstar and played a dour-by-comparison 0-0 league match, and reminded myself of how I reached the point of exhaustion with this game a while back.

So I’m thinking of playing on Top Player with zero-bar passing assistance, and seeng how I get on.

Poor old FIFA. It’s great, but its best-ever edition can’t compete even with this flawed edition of PES.

Am I brainwashed? Absolutely. Am I going to put myself through any kind of un-brainwashing, deconditioning process? Nope.

Will this last? Will I be playing PES2015 by Tuesday?

There’s a very good chance I will. I have other games to play, and I’m playing them, so PES2015 will likely just be a session here and there every other day or so. This feels like a good way to await PES2016.

Or is it possible I could squeeze in Season 15 before the middle of September?