A casual gaming weekend

After Friday’s declaration of a final parting of the ways with FIFA10’s Manager Mode, I’ve actually been playing it all weekend. Logic and consistency are not notable features of a regular journal, or blog, as anybody who has kept one or the other will know.

It’s all down to the World Cup and Football Manager 2010. The World Cup has suddenly got very interesting. The games are better and there are endless talking points. Watching the matches on TV and reading about the tournament in newspapers and online is taking up a lot of the time I would ordinarily devote to gaming.

Most of the gaming time left over has been devoted to Football Manager 2010. FM2010 is becoming to me more or less what Master League was a few months ago. An obsession. The other night I caught myself applauding one of my strikers after he tucked away a 1-on-1. I said out loud: “That’s why you’re in the team, son, that’s why you’re in the team…”

I do yearn to start up a Become A Legend career in PES2010. But right now I don’t want to, not with the twin distractions of the World Cup and Football Manager diluting the time and attention I could give to it.

In this context, over the weekend, I just fancied some pick-up-and-play football game action. Manager Mode in FIFA10 seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

It’s a relief to allow myself to like Manager Mode for what it is. It’s a chintzy piece of rubbish, a bauble with about as much substance as a cheese and onion crisp. I played a lot of games one after the other, hardly taking any notice at all of where my team was in the table.

I’m far more interested in the gameplay. I’ve found it very absorbing. FIFA10’s got a wonderful passing game. I don’t care what any FIFA-sceptic says to the contrary. No wonder so many former PES fans who try to come back to PES soon run away shrieking with horror.

I’m scoring a satisfying variety of goals. The old canard about ‘the same type of goal’ is not something I’ve ever really come across in next-gen FIFA. I score a good mixture of close-range shots (1-on-1s and otherwise) and shots from middle-to-long distance outside the box. I can play direct and I can play tippy-tappy Arsenal passing style. It’s good stuff. (Until I get sick of it.)

Granted, I’m still playing on Professional difficulty. I’m also still playing with the water wings of assisted settings—this late in the fooball game year! I should be ashamed of myself. I’ll move the difficulty up and the controls to semi-assisted if I’m still playing in a few days.

The lack of real player individuality is a continuing worry for the next-gen FIFA series. And the sprint-clamping method of retrieving possession from the AI is still a major annoyance. Knowing it’s there means I have to use it, and it’s ridiculously effective. Will the player individuality issue be fixed for FIFA11? Does EA regard the sprint-clamping as a problem? You’ve got to hope so on both counts.

Updated: 21st June 2010 — 09:13


  1. Logic and consistency are not notable features of a regular journal, or blog the human thought process, as anybody who has kept is one or the other will know.

    Fixed it for you. 😉

    Glad to hear that you’re getting good goals in FIFA. Do you score from headers crossed in from the wings, or corners? Those are the goals I’ve never been able to produce in FIFA, and the ones I miss when I’m playing it. I always feel like wide play is just a waste of time, and that is almost as sad as a kitten getting slapped.

    There’s been a lot of hot wind over here about the England – USA relationship straining in the wake of the BP disaster, and I think football can help. What we need is a 1-0 Algeria win and a 1-1 draw for England. Then we’ll both be out of the cup in disastrous fashion and what could possibly bring us closer than shared misery?

    I’ll buy the first round.

  2. ck—I do score headers from crosses/corners, but they’re a lot rarer than they should be (maybe 1 goal in 20), and there’s a notable lack of power headers. Most are looping headers, or hit-the-ground-first headers. I think I’ve had one really meaty thump of a header in what must be 30 hours of FIFA10 so far (since October). Not satisfactory and in general I do know what people mean about the lack of variety in FIFA goals. I think that because I spent a lot of time on 08 and 09 it gives me a head-start on the search for satisfaction. But, as I hint in the post, as good as I often do find FIFA, it’s not really very long before I get tired of it. I haven’t played it today, for example, and I don’t miss it. My PES2010 campaign this year has had a huge ripple effect on how my football game year is shaping up.

    I don’t hold out much hope for Wednesday. England on Saturday was a very peculiar thing to watch. They played as if all their families were being held hostage. It’ll be even more peculiar if they’re suddenly good on Wednesday. And I have to say, watching the US-Slovenia game, and that disallowed winning goal… that was one of the most baffling decisions I’ve ever seen.

  3. That bastard Coulibaly is public enemy #1 around here. Nothing like a little blatant injustice to rile up the casual soccer fans here in the states. They don’t understand the sport, really, but they know a jobbing when they see one. We definitely deserved three points, and had England woken up against Algeria, we might still be whining about it. But as things turned out, we have our destiny in our hands, and if we can’t beat Algeria, what makes us think we can beat Germany or Ghana?

    Before the tournament started, had you offered me the chance to beat Algeria in a one-off match in order to go through, I’d have bit your hand off. No complaints from me.

    It’s been a tragic World Cup for England, and it seems to me that:

    1) Fabio Capello melted down prior to the tournament and spun out with a series of inexplicably poor choices that had me telling people before the first ball was kicked that he was buckling: The Capello Index, wheedling the escape clause out of his contract (as a buffer against failure), calling up Ledley King, Jamie Carragher and (at the 11th hour) batting eyes at Paul Scholes . . . the goalkeeper waffling . . . whatever happened to Signore Discipline? He’s panicked, and it’s a good remember how much pressure there is on a team like England at the World Cup.

    2) I don’t think your players like each other very much. They seem like 6 huge egos in a 3-ego life raft. For me, Terry is the worst of the lot, as he’s been nothing but problems for Chelsea as well. Even still, Rooney and Gerrard both have pretty tragic mental flaws, and pressure turns flaws into cracks.

    3) The “Star Power” of the English squad is a huge problem. You’ve got these undroppable players who don’t have to train or play well to be included, and a second tier of extremely talented (but not nearly as famous) players who won’t get a run out.

    4) The English press compounds the problem by putting every decision under a microscope and effectively governing by proxy. Ferdinand, King and Carragher should have stayed home. Rooney isn’t really among the best strikers in the world — he’s not smart enough, and is a liability in certain situations. With the right squad around him, and against the right opponent, he’s deadly, but he’s still a horses for courses type of striker. Picking up the ball at the center circle he’s toothless.

    BUT, England are still good enough to put a goal or two past Serbia, and if there’s one thing that our two teams share, it’s that we get better the more desperate the cause. I’ve not given up hope for you guys yet, but I think you’re suffering from a really dysfunctional national team culture and the guy you hired to sort it out, strutted around like a dictator before capitulating at the last minute.

    How Italian of him.

    The real question for me is, will the winner or runner up of our group get Die Mannschaft? I’d despaired prior to the tournament that our best-case scenario had us going through second and getting our asses handed to us by Germany. All of a sudden, the group opens up to where there’s a good chance we’ll go through top! . . . and still get the effing Germans.

    What a crazy Cup!

  4. ck—it’s going to be a great day tomorrow. The sad news for me is that I didn;t book the day off work and will have to follow the match from my desk with a Secret Service-style earpiece connected to a little radio. When I was sizing up my needs I didn’t think group game 3 would be so decisive, so I thought I could husband my annual leave entitlement (a hefty one as ever in socialist Europe, but still a finite, precious resource!) and wait until the latter stages.

    I’ve never thought Steven Gerrard, for example, has ever wanted to play for England. In general there just isn’t that sense of pride in playing for the country that there is for other nations. I’m a non-nationalist (an a-nationalist?), so I don’t consider that a bad thing necessarily, but when it impacts upon football performances to the extent that I think it has in England’s case, it’s obviously a missing, vital ingredient.

    I’ll be rooting for the USA as well. From a world sport perspective, we need the US to stay involved and interested. Not too much though… As I often say to those who sneer at US football: we should get down on our knees every day and thank God that the US isn’t into football. Imagine a parallel world in which football has the same prominence in the US as baseball, say. All the top players in the world would be playing there. The European leagues would be virtual feeder leagues for the juggernaut of American Soccer. The US team would be expected to just turn up every four years to collect the World Cup. (Would there even be a World Cup as we know it?!)

  5. Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I think even while the sport has grown here beyond what I would have imagined 20 years ago when I was a young feller, we’re still several generations behind the rest of the world. My grandchildren might celebrate a US world cup victory, but I think that kind of progress will be measured in generations.

    We’re not producing anywhere near the talent we’re capable of, even with the sport at a distant fifth behind gridiron football, Nascar, baseball and basketball. Ultimately, the highest level of youth soccer here is on a “pay-to-play” model that leaves underprivileged kids out in the cold. If you ever get a chance, look into Clint Dempsey’s (Fulham) life story. His parents literally got second jobs and his sister gave up her music lessons in order for him to play elite youth football. Serious hardship to get him into a level that (while the best available in the US) is surely several notches beneath the Ajax academy or West Ham youth team.

    The US youth development program is both inadequate and very profitable. What’s the likelihood of it getting fixed in that instance? My club Kansas City Wizards is building a new football-specific stadium (yay) and in order to make the operation profitable are putting in 10 youth pitches, hotels and restaurants in order to host youth soccer tournaments on away weekends. The youth tournaments will likely support the football club.

    The rest of the football world wants a slice of US sporting revenue, but doesn’t really want a strong USA football league . . . a bit of a catch 22. For the moment, we’re a feeder nation, and the football fans of my generation consider that an accomplishment!

    The real big money in US sport always involves rednecks — NFL football and Nascar are the prime money makers. Rednecks generally dislike 2 things: brown people and furriners (that’s you, Europe and rest of the Americas). I don’t see them adopting football as an interest for generations.

    Over here, a few of the right-wing blowhards have been railing against expanded World Cup media presence as emblematic of limp-wristed liberal euro-phile degeneracy. Because as all red-blooded Americans know, only effete urbanites, socialists and women like soccer.

    I wonder what they’d make of Vinnie Jones? 😉


    My wife suggests that I shouldn’t underestimate the fact that the path of US culture has been toward urbanization and globalization for decades now. Like you, she sees it as an inevitable trend, and while I agree, I don’t see us really competing with the big dogs for another 30 years at the earliest.

  6. at least New Zealand and Japan are giving me something to cheer in this World Cup, hopefully one of them will make it through even if England don’t!

    Re the Germans; although the pundits are talking about them finishing second, as a nasty shock to whoever wins our group, it would actually take some strange results for that to happen – surely if they win today they’ll finish top, if they don’t then probably third?

  7. ck—I try not to believe in anything—nationalism, globalism, nothing. The fate of soccer in America is an interesting one and it is indeed probably a few generations before it gains a secure foothold (the foothold at the moment is a precarious, conditional one, it seems to me). But there are factors working against soccer making it big in America that I don’t think can easily be overcome. And like I said in my last comment, nor should we (Europe, South America) necessarily want those factors to be overcome!

  8. abbeyhill—waking up yesterday morning I had a half-dream/half-awake vision of the result in today’s game: England 0, Slovenia 2. I was going to have a bet on that exact result at 33/1 odds (!), but stopped myself. That could never happen, could it…?

Comments are closed.