For my summer project I will try to play a FIFA and love it for the first time since FIFA15.
FIFA19 is this year’s attempt. Seeing on ‘the forums’ and on ‘the YouTube’ that it’s said to be one of the most disliked in the series only encourages me. Any football game disliked by the new generation of football gamers is likely to be… an actual football game.
My warmup matches went very well indeed. I played a Custom Tournament with England and won it – starting out on Professional, and going up to World Class from the semis on.
The game feels wonderful. It looks superb and handles beautifully. At times I catch myself thinking ‘now this is a proper football sim’. The way the action unfolds, the way the players move.
PES muscle memory is a problem. I keep wanting to play the PES way. Sometimes it works, but most often it doesn’t. When my PES-conditioned muscle memory recedes and I start to play the way this game wants, it’s amazing.
Early misgivings are the extreme no-fouls environment. I haven’t kept a formal count but I’d estimate the average at 0.33 per match. i.e. 1 every 3 matches on average. The reasons for no fouls in modern football games are well-known, and of course they’re best known of all to the people who make football games today. They know the reasons best of all. It’s quite amusing how Konami and EA have a shared priestly code of silence around the whole issue. You can’t shut them up – especially EA – about every other aspect of their games, but when it comes to fouls (a prominent feature of the sport, that has a massive impact on things)… nothing.
The other slight wrinkle in FIFA19 is the AI, which chooses its moments to come to life. In all my Professional warmup matches, it was completely passive and did the proverbial eff-all. So I moved up to World Class difficulty. Note that I play with the current set of Operation Sports sliders, all assists on, and with Legacy Defending.
A bit better, but not much. In a few matches, notably my Career Mode pre-season European Tournament with top-tier opposition, the AI was pretty good, sometimes great, delivering that deadly threat. I lost in the semi-final there.
But here are the post-match stats for my first Career Mode match, on World Class, remember:Just 2 shots from the AI, neither of them on target. At least I got a foul. I’ve played a couple more matches since this and things have been much the same. I’ve conceded 1 goal.
At the moment I’m too preoccupied with settling into the game and learning its intricacies to be much bothered about the AI’s passivity.Yes, I have started a Career Mode, as Coventry City, despite saying I wouldn’t. My name in this one is John Manager. I moved the club into the Championship during the setup process using the ‘Swap Clubs’ option at the bottom of the screen. You can swap places with any club in any division.
My first First XI and formation:Career Mode is of course far more advanced than Master League in terms of features and things to do. There’s a lot to take in here, to say the least. The TL;DR version of my transfer policy at the start of Season 1: a few loanees have come in, but I want to take half a season to get to know these players in the Championship before having a clear-out. (And if that strangely passive AI continues to be a thing, who knows, this lot might get me up.)In my early months on a football game I like to rate how the sessions have felt and give the game a provisional running score out of 10. My FIFA19 sessions have all been strong 9/10 and 8/10 sessions. All were ended reluctantly, because of time pressure from other things in life. This is the best sign of a good football game and a good experience to come.A brief set of FIFA19 highlights. Three misses, and three goals. The point of the misses at the start is to show how PES muscle memory has conditioned me to expect certain outcomes in certain situations. I applaud FIFA19’s strict stats-and-context-based shooting system, needless to say.
And then, when I finally started to get the hang of things, there some goals. Each one of which caused me to grin and do a fist-pump and say ‘jolly good’.