Switching from PES2012 to FIFA12 has turned out to be harder than I ever thought it would be. The news for today is that the transition to FIFA12 has not been a smooth one. Not by any means.
As the above league table shows, after 11 matches in the all-new Career Mode, I’m 14th and struggling to make things happen on the pitch. But in some ways, that’s the least of the difficulty.
Put it this way: after my first full session of full-time FIFA12, I was making contingency plans for a shock return to PES2012. Seriously. I felt out of my element, as if I’d washed up on the shores of a desert island from which I just wanted to get ‘home’.
I missed Master League like crazy. Yes indeed, I was pining for PES2012. This was astonishing. After everything that happened…
It’s understandable really. I’ve always loved PES and Master League, except for when I disliked them. Even then, the dislike was motivated by love. This blog, on the whole, would tend to support that view.
It’d been 3 whole years since the last time I played a FIFA for any serious length of time. That was FIFA09—and really, back then I went to FIFA09 having sucked PES2009 dry. I was moving on naturally. Here and now, I’ve sort of left PES2012 in suspended animation.
And so I’m turning up on FIFA12’s doorstep with a packed suitcase and a cheesy pleased-to-meet-you grin on my face.
Is it any wonder there was some element of awkwardness, of oh-shit-what-have-I-done, about it all?
Playing FIFA12 full time is a very challenging prospect. My hands want to play any football game one way, the PES way; the game in my hands, FIFA12, won’t let me; the outcome, for an alarmingly long time, was frustration and a certain sense of deflation.
I started Career Mode on Professional level difficulty. I play with slightly tweaked gameplay sliders. I’ll post them in detail later in the week.
I started as Coventry City. It’s what I know, and as such it’s an easy way for me to take the temperature of Career Mode. I dithered for ages about making my own custom team in Creation Centre, or downloading one that others had made. I ended up gravitating to Coventry.
And rightaway I set about beefing up the team. I loaned in Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan. I bought Paulo Assuncao. I bought Makinwa from Lazio.
None of those players would ever come to Coventry in real life. That is what makes simulated football game careers so great: a fantastical, even humorous element (Assuncao at Coventry! lol!). It’s what made Master League the #1 gaming pastime of my entire life so far. Career Mode needs some of that romance, some of that pizzazz. This is one way of doing it.
Also in the team, wearing the no. 8 shirt: yours truly, here called N. Greg.
He’s my Virtual Pro, and one of my best players right now. I’m still unsure whether to reveal my real name when the book comes out (don’t ask about its current progress).
As can be seen I’ve gone for a variant of the basic 4-4-2 with a flattened diamond midfield.
I spent some time tinkering with the formation tactics to get it playing the way I want. One of the elements of FIFA that always gets criticised is its relative lack of tactical depth. But perhaps the critics are not looking hard enough. There’s a fairly well-hidden tactics screen where you can adjust attack/defence posture on an individual basis, and assign individual run directions (old PES-stylee).
I don’t know about the latter thing yet, but the former—adjusting attack/defence—really does work well.
I have Assuncao as my DMF (that’s a CDM in FIFA). I set his Defence to High and his Attack to Low. Which should mean he plays most of the match sat in front of the back 4, right? And that’s exactly what he does now. If I want him to join an attack I have to deliberately bring him forward. I tell you, it’s quite gratifying to look at the pitch and see your players doing what you’ve asked of them in tactics.
There’s a lot to say about FIFA12, about football gaming, about what is good in this game, what is disappointing, and what is great.
This game is deep. And do not underestimate the influence that Tactical Defeding has had and is having on my judgement. The game automatically gained credit with me just by ditching the old FIFA defensive system of sprint-clamp button pressure.
I’ll also talk some more about Tactical Defending over the next week or two. If I talked about everything I wanted to talk about here and now, today, this would be a 10,000-word post, and not even I will ever go there.
My rocky start with full-time FIFA12 started to turn around when I relaxed and allowed myself to forget that I was playing FIFA12. There were a few moments on the third and fourth days (Saturday and Sunday) that started to make me feel more at home. FIFA12 was going to welcome me to its bosom after all.
I’ve always felt that the greatest thing a football game can do is to make ordinary goals feel wonderful, as if scoring them is as good an achievement as any long-distance thunderbolt. I know that most other football gamers agree with this stance.
So, for different reasons, I was delighted with both of these quite-ordinary FIFA12 goals early on in my new Career Mode:
With the first goal, I love the scoop-style aerial through-ball; with the second goal, I love the full manual cross, and the way my player (me!) quickly stabs the ball home for a bread-and-butter type finish.
All in all a good start with FIFA12 full-time—if not the staggeringly great one that I was hoping for. I now see myself as naive to expect that I would just resume where I left off in early October. I still think FIFA12 is going to work out and that I need to be playing this game right now. But it’s clear that my 250+ hours on PES2012 have affected me more deeply than I know. Possibly there are more ups and downs ahead.