At the best of times FIFA angers me, and that is an understatement. It is quite obviously a great football game but it is marred with such basic and at times fundamentally elementary problems that it almost becomes impossible to withstand it while maintaining a level of sanity. It’s true that I suffer from FIFA Rage and in fact for the last week I have been writing an article on that very subject but it has been continuously delayed because of…yes you guessed it, FIFA Rage!!
Since its inception in FIFA 2009, I have been an avid player of Pro Clubs. So avid in fact, that I can count on one hand the amount of nights in a row I have gone without playing it since its arrival. So many times I have sworn through sheer disgust that I would quit playing only to return the next night with my tail between my legs because I just can’t exist without it. Sad really I know.
So if I am to accept my fate as Pro Clubs’ bitch, then at the very least I request that EA take note of my analysis and suggested improvements for FIFA 2013 to make the pain of myself and so many others more bearable. My main focus is of course Pro Clubs, but I will also talk about some general improvements to the game itself, and be warned as this does border on becoming a rant!
The 99 Overall VP Glitch
Starting with the most obvious here. The ridiculous 99 pro hack has become so common now that I’m literally considering just giving up until FIFA 2013 rears its ugly head (like I haven’t said that before). If this carries forward into FIFA 2013 like it did from 2011 to 2012 then I will be demanding a refund from EA, as should everyone else for that matter.
The fact that this survived from FIFA 2012 is testament to how little the developers care. Let’s think about it for a moment, for this glitch to even work, the data for a 99 rated pro needs to exist within the game for the hackers to then exploit; therefore wouldn’t it have been prudent to make the maximum you can possibly be, the legitimate maximum you can possibly be? And not have extra stats festering in the background for some geek in his pit of a bedroom to exploit. The gripe here is less about the fact that EA won’t stop this, but more about the data existing in the first place.
From my understanding, Pro Clubs in 2012 has been designed so you get matched with teams of similar amounts of players, which is good, but nowhere near good enough. Personally, I would like the option of searching for clubs within a given points range to prevent the chance of playing clubs ranked significantly lower than your own. I do not wish to risk the chances of losing 70+ points for a potential gain of 5 points which is effectively what happens in this scenario.
Alternatively, you could make all matches give a set amount of points for a win/draw regardless of the amount your opponent has, either option is viable. I would also like to filter out clubs that do not utilise a human any, for the simple fact that the CPU is way overpowered defensively. Incidentally, this leads me to my next point.
Considering the advances video games have made in just the last 20 years I would have expected the sophistication of AI to have evolved beyond reacting to your joypad inputs. It reminds me of times as a child, playing Street Fighter II in the arcade and being met with a Shoryuken to the face every time I jumped at Ken, without fail. It’s exactly the same premise playing against a CPU defence on Pro Clubs. I turn one way, the CPU without any kind of delay, follows me in that direction, I stop and they immediately stop, I show them an inch of the ball and they steal it. I have absolutely no desire to play a mind reader, and considering I am not a masochist (honestly), I never play the AI in 1 v 1 games, career mode or any of that malarkey because I find it boring and totally methodical.
I expect an AI with sophistication, one that scales nicely with difficulty, but never to the point that they become robotic therefore reacting only to the inputs from your fingers; they should react to what you do, but not without delay, and should be prone to misreading you from time to time. There should also be a level of them attempting to anticipate your movement ahead of you doing it.
If the AI had this kind of realism, we would see fewer people using it as a cop-out in Pro Clubs, because lets face it, as it is right now, its ridiculously overpowered. I sit here with actual disgust at the clubs who adopt 5 at the back on ultra defensive with a CPU any, and yet further disgust for those who also track back with their own Virtual Pro’s and park themselves on the edge of the box. The only players I have more disdain for is people who do absolutely nothing but spend an entire match trying to manufacture a finesse shot because “it works”.
If a player pulls my shirt, is it not a foul? The fact this action was included at all in FIFA 12 is an embarrassment to the game (football, not FIFA). Placing your hands on another player is a foul, I don’t care if it’s to tickle him, stroke him or sexually abuse him, it’s a foul. There is a set technique to shirt pulling in FIFA so as not to concede fouls and it is abused to the maximum. I see absolutely no legitimate reason for the inclusion of this within the game and it should be removed completely. The only reason I can think of for the inclusion of this is realism. Well in that case EA, lets include diving, play-acting, spitting, holding onto people in the box, blocking the keeper, crowding the referee, signalling to card another player, or in true Di-canio style, pushing the referee over.
This one really annoys the hell out of me to the point of wanting to self-harm. Anyone who has ever played against the CPU as an individual striker will understand my pain here. You receive the ball to feet, and a CPU defender on ultra aggressive will literally come through the back of you, wipe you out in the process and take the ball, foul?….NO!? A ball played in the air to you, and a CPU defender jumps over your back, knocking you down in the process, and heads it away, foul?….NO!? This needs to be either toned down or at the very least more fouls should be given against the CPU for the more blatant offences.
Custom tactics need to be more accessible and should be at the match room section. In the early years of Pro Clubs, specifically 2009 and 2010, the custom tactics were so much better, allowing me the ability to formulate my own variation of a flat 4-4-2 but with one of the strikers playing in a deep role, like a Wayne Rooney. In Pro Clubs I do not wish to pick from a given list of “allowable” formations, and then have to go out of my way to create custom tactics in the team settings section of an exhibition match to then add it to my D-Pad and to then activate in a club match. That is far too much of a hassle. Give us a wallboard in the match room where we can create custom formations, set player runs, attacking positions, defending positions etc, etc.
Pro Clubs has long needed the ability to create custom kits and badges, with the ability to upload images created on a PC or similar device. While EA probably haven’t already included this due to the probability of some adolescent uploading an image of a penis, it is quite a flimsy excuse to not include such a feature. A simple disclaimer you have to agree to would solve this problem in a heartbeat. The current profanity filter is obviously not working anyway considering team names like “FFS EA” are perfectly acceptable but “Beastiality FC” is not (thank you Ksiolajidebt for this evidence). Back to the point, custom kits and badges will give much needed customisation to the look and feel of your Pro Club and make it seem just that, yours.
Higher rated random players
Regardless of whether you play with a human or CPU controlled Any, the random players you are given are simply not good enough to cope with the rating of human pro’s they are expected to play against. It is simply a mismatch in quality when you are expected to defend against 89 rated strikers with 72 rated centre-backs. I therefore propose that the solution to this problem is to streamline all random players to 85 overall. Not only would this solve the problem at hand, but it would also help instigate a rise in the amount of Pro Clubs actually choosing to adopt a human controlled any. The players you are currently given are so bad they have a turning circle wider than that of the Titanic….after the sinking, a first touch that is tantamount to an embarrassment of football and passing equivalent to that of of a sunday league player with no legs. Streamline them, improve them, enough said.
CPU build-up play
For those who use the CPU as your any, you will know that the majority of your time on the pitch is spent standing up top pressing A for ridiculously accurate long balls from a CPU defender. History shows I used to blame you for this, but what I know now that I didn’t then, is that you simply don’t trust the CPU to formulate a build-up, and with very good reason. At times they completely refuse to pass despite your blatant requests, and for some reason unbeknownst to all, continuously turn backwards when there is a clear forwards pass available. At times you can spam A to request the ball so much that when you finally receive it, your player nonchalantly kicks it away due to your overlapping button mashing.
For me this has led to much cussing out of rage. Other times you can ask for a pass from as little as 5 yards away and they will attempt to lob it at you in the air, programming at its absolute worst. Whoever was responsible for coding this needs to re-think their chosen career. It is completely unfathomable to me how the defensive side of the CPU can be so effective and astute yet when given the ball they crumble like a wet apple pie. Personally I am an advocate of using a human controlled any, but those who choose to use the CPU should not be forced into long ball tactics because their defensive players cannot be trusted with possession.
No more achievements (or a new system)
Lets face it, after 3 years of being tasked with the same achievements to unlock for your Virtual Pro it’s no wonder people turned to modding. And I use the word ‘Modding’ very specifically, not to be confused with the glitching that is ruining Pro Clubs as we speak. Pro Achievements should save year on year unless, and this is what I hope for, you overhaul the player stats and achievement system.
I request something more complex and sophisticated. I want to be able to delve deeper into my players talent tree (yes I play WoW) and specialise more. The best way to describe this is, given the current situation in Pro Clubs, you cannot be a CM; you can be a CAM, or a CDM, but not a general CM which is absurd. Similarly, you cannot be an inside forward but you can be a winger. You can be a target man but not a deep lying playmaker. More options please!
Football is more complex and has more positions than what you’re allowing us to be. A system that starts you out with core stats but then lets you spend points where you desire them which are accrued through match performances and matches played would be amazing. Obviously it needs to be more definitive than this but what I’m offering is purely an idea, not a system.
Game face is a feature within FIFA allowing you to upload a photograph of yourself thus altering the appearance of your Pro to look like you. It does this with varying degrees of quality and accuracy depending on many factors such as the quality of the image, or whether you use side-shots, but here is the kicker, only YOU can see it! Considering I already know what I look like, this is very underwhelming. It won’t improve the game and admittedly is purely for aesthetic value but if you’re going to include this option, then to make it visible online to others is surely to be expected?
The ability to chest a ball effectively is just not a possibility in FIFA at present. The amount of times I’ve been put 1 on 1 with the opposing goalkeeper courtesy of a long through ball only for it to bounce in front of me causing my player to then either stand and wait for it to drop or run beyond it is absurd. The chesting needs to be a lot more useful than it currently is. When running through on goal, and the ball bounces, your player should proactively take it on the chest and knock it slightly forward to allow continuation of the momentum in your favour, whereas in the current model they will fail to do so allowing the defenders to recover. Give us more control when pulling balls out of the air, make chesting more useful and allow us to shield bouncing balls more effectively.
The impact engine, although potentially a very good idea, is currently broken completely. The amount of times I’ve collapsed over another player resulting in my head becoming stuck in their crotch is laughable; Or stood on someone who is on the ground, only for them to get off the floor and elevate me to a ridiculous height. Admittedly it has provided me with some side-splittingly hilarious moments, but it does need to be improved upon.
Considering this is FIFA I find it hard to believe that these are not already included. That being said, the latest EURO 2012 downloadable content does not have licenses for all the nations, the most notable being Wales, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised. It would simply add a new level of realism to the game if licensed referees were included instead of the stupidly named ones we get at the moment. Similarly, real stadiums for the same reasons.
I am sure there a lot more elements of FIFA 2012 that need to be improved upon for FIFA 2013, especially considering I have focused primarily on Pro Clubs which is just one mode of many. However I draw this analysis-come-rant to a close.
Stay tuned for my upcoming piece on ‘FIFA Rage’, yes it does exist!