Critique of FIFA 13

EA continually spout that their ultimate aim with the FIFA series is to accurately simulate real life football, but that’s an absolute farce. The only realism EA are interested in is the realism that systematically designing a game to pander to the masses generates more sales. Religiously dedicating themselves to a “greed is good” mantra year after year. They do this without ever having to improve or advance the core game play elements that have been in place since FIFA 10.

Don’t get me wrong, EA do fix game play faults but are only ever truly interested in fixing the bugs that effect revenue, like those found within their cash cow game mode Ultimate Team. Whilst the game breaking faults in other modes and errors within existing features that overlap previous FIFA titles get continually ignored. Major bugs in game modes other than Ultimate Team get eternally neglected until next year’s release. In their place come half baked new features that no-one cares about. But hey, a broken new feature is still a new feature, right? And the pointless new features are where the big buck$ are, because new features on the box = new customers in the pock£t! By the way, I’m not begrudging the fact EA want to make money, they are a business after all. I’m begrudging the fact they are pretending to be all about putting out the best quality product, when the opposite is true.

One of the big shiny features for FIFA 13 is the (broken) new collision system. It doesn’t award clear fouls, often doesn’t recognise obstruction and invites your team-mates to fall over each other like they are trying to recreate their favourite Laurel and Hardy sketch mid-match. In-fact it’s all so “predictably unpredictable” (to coin EA’s phrase) that you’d be better off not actually enduring the agony of a match, should just roll some virtual dice instead and whoever has the highest number gets awarded the win. Less hassle, less of my time wasted and it would be just as fair and random as the new ball behaviour, first touch and collision systems within FIFA 13. All this nonsense creates an even playing field, all the time allowing the unskilled FIFA gamer to compete with the skilled. If I was a paranoid mess of a man, I’d say this is all intentional on EA’s part as it only increases sales while the masses are catered for.

Another long-term annoyance of mine is FIFA’s favouritism for anti-football and ultra defensive tactics. We’ve all witnessed the classless c**** who play this vulgar brand of football, Chelsea in last season’s Champions League for instance! I’m talking five man defences, seven to ten players behind the ball, endless counters with lofted through balls to the human defenders-cum-strikers scampering from deep, and if all that fails just flood the opposition area with a sea of players so you can completely abuse the stupidly coded collisions and rebounds that are guaranteed to go your way in any overcrowded penalty area.

Alternatively, if you have the audacity to even attempt to play the game in a semi-realistic manner, with neat passing, clever movement, valuing possession and intricate passes, you will be punished and punished hard. This is because the game tends to go ballistic whenever you dare attempt to play a possession-based game, literally throwing every obstacle in your way to prevent you from succeeding. The AI read your mind and perform auto blocks and tackles and do so even when the player is human controlled. The game also condones the opposition obstructing your players from running through on goal, completely ignoring the ball and without the game ever signalling for the blatant foul that has just taken place. On the rare occasion you do happen to break through the defence without someone obstructing your run, or the game manipulating a situation so there’s a random collision, the ball will then decide it’s time it sabotaged things by declaring “OK guys, enough is enough now, this move has gone on for far too long” Then bounce in a totally unrealistic way and direction, completely killing all your attacking momentum and any chance you had of scoring. This scenario occurs very often, even if you’re someone as technically gifted as Messi and you’ve been given a very simple pass to control. A pass so simple that your average 8 pack and pint-a-day Sunday league player would take it in his stride without hesitation.

Add to these annoyances the fact auto animations have crept into the game more and more each year and f*** knows why because they add nothing progressive to the game at all and just seem to be there to further handicap the skilled player. Forcing you to perform animations you didn’t instigate, instruct or often even want. They favour and aid the poor FIFA player who cannot read the game, or block and control passes and shots themselves. Also, the amount of times FIFA 13 has performed an automatic animation that I didn’t want to perform or instruct which has then caused me to concede, or miss the opportunity of a simple tap-in drives me crazy. In-fact the anger this game has released in me can be evidenced by the fact I’m usually a very calm and placid gamer, but while playing FIFA 13 I’ve destroyed a controller and TV cabinet. My three overriding emotions while playing this game are severe injustice, intense frustration and utter utter despair.

All the bugs I’ve highlighted above are in relation to online games against others, but the faults don’t stop there, as playing against the AI has been a neglected stagnate mess for many years now too.

EA have stated they’ve improved the AI’s penchant for headless off the ball runs down contested blind alleys, when there’s literally a great big open field right next to them they should be running into instead. I’ve played every FIFA since 2009 and all the FIFA games from before 2001 and AI runs haven’t improved a great deal in all that time. I would also question the wisdom of having to press a button to instruct your players when they are to run forward. Surely they should be doing this of their own accord? Based on how attacking your formation is, the team tactics, playing style, where the space is on the pitch to run into and how adept the player is at taking up good attacking positions according to their statistics and attributes. As an example, Hernandez should be better at making runs than say Di Santo, and Hernandez should also make differing runs and be automatically looking to run behind the defence at every opportunity. Whereas someone like Rooney should automatically make more runs towards the ball. Worryingly Pro Evolution 6 has superior AI off the ball running and that is a last generation game.

Rival football game PES may lack in many areas when compared directly to FIFA, but what it has in its favour is the fact it has always understood the importance of personality. PES players control and behave differently to each other. Xavi feels different to Cesc and Zlatan feels different to Falcao. By comparison, in FIFA every player and team feels lifeless and almost robotic. Like they were all constructed using the same instructions and parts used to create a team of retard robots.
Football is great, and that’s ultimately because of all the different variations in personalities, styles of play and philosophies in each team, yet personality and variety is something FIFA has eternally shunned. As a result FIFA has the personality and warmth of former PM (and my fav sleeping aid) John Major while he’s suffering from a severe headache and a bout of deep depression.

FIFA lacks the realism and excitement that personality gives. When I play against the AI Messi in FIFA he doesn’t play anything like the real Messi, instead he plays the EXACT same way as all the other AI players. Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn, short pass and repeat. When I play against Messi, I want him to behave like Messi, operate in the same spaces as Messi, and to dribble through my defence like the real Messi. Not turn 800 times on the spot and just pass it to the guy next to him ninety nine times out of hundred. It’s like FIFA have modelled their AI on a robotic Gareth Barry.

It’s not just the players that are an issue, the personality and variety of each AI club needs addressing. When I play Stoke, they should be hitting the long ball more often than Spurs do for instance. But in FIFA they don’t, instead every team plays the same predictably robotic way. Where’s the AI, where’s the variety? I’m no programmer, but I assume it would be very straight-forward to program into the game that Messi mainly operates in these areas on the pitch and dribbles every x number of times per match. Or tell Stoke to play passes from the defence straight to an attacker 20% more than the default team settings. Unfortunately, FIFA have extracted all personality from offline games, making playing against the AI a very predictable and stale experience.

I’m all for constructive criticism, so I’ll stop moaning now and actually suggest my improvements for future additions of FIFA.

Suggestion 1
A new online arena.

This should include many of the more interesting street related football games listed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_football. Heads and volleys, crossbar challenge, 1v1, round the world, show boat (skills) challenge, that sort of thing.

I actually believe this game mode has the potential to be more fun than a traditional game of FIFA. If you allow me to let my mind wander for a moment, I’m imagining scoreboards to challenge your friends, points added for difficult combos and skill complexity, rush goalies, basically anything you can think of would be added!

You could even set your own parameters for practice arena matches. then include no offsides if you wanted to, or only goals scored via a long range shot or header and volley count. Better still use the wisdom of crowds and allow everyone to create and upload their own challenges via an in-built challenge creator. Then you are free to create your own fun and bizarre scenarios and challenges using any rules, items and settings you want.

Suggestion 2

Abandon the current collision system until it is fixed.

In theory a collision system is a necessary and logical addition to FIFA, but many things sound great in theory and then collapse in practice and FIFA 13’s collision system has unfortunately fallen over its team-mate in it’s own area and is now laying motionless on the floor for what seems like an eternity. While the opposition swan in, take the loose ball you’ve left behind and score. In theory a collision system improves the game because it mimics the physical battles contested in a real game of football, but the reality is very different. It causes the players to fall over team-mates and creates a situation where people can get away with clear obstruction and fouling offences. It also causes penalties to be wrongly awarded when there is barely any contact.

Suggestion 3

New player selection/cursor settings.

Whenever defending the cursor should always select the player nearest the ball and goal-side. But FIFA 13 will often select a player who is behind the play, or worse still give you a player outside the box when you are defending a corner. New cursor settings would also go some way to alleviating the fact there are too many goals from corners. A lot of goals are scored from corners purely because the game picks the wrong player for you to control. Yeah I’ve already tried flicking the right stick and experimenting with all the different cursor and button settings available, it’s broken.

Suggestion 4

Get rid of the first touch system.

Well get rid of it until it is finished anyway, right now it’s too random and favours the unskilled player. I really don’t appreciate working my ass off to create the ideal opening for my striker, only for the ball to bounce wickedly off his foot and lose me possession, and this happens all the time. Even when I’m a great technician like Berbatov. I’m not holding the sprint button, I am using close control and the pass is a slow simple one to feet.

Suggestion 5

Remove all automated animations, tackles and blocks..

They only help poor players to defend passes and shots that they themselves cannot and do not help but hinder skilled players.

Suggestion 6

Keep the finesse shot as it is!

To regularly score in FIFA 13 requires some basic finishing ability, which is great and exactly how it should be. However, in past FIFA titles the lower skilled player could always fall back on the finesse shot to literally score all their goals for them, no finishing, composure or decision making skills were required at all. I know it’s not really a novel suggestion but FIFA do have a habit of removing perfectly good features and replacing them with broken new ones, so I wanted to highlight it.

Suggestion 7

Life-like refereeing and assistant errors.

Like it or not officials often get decisions wrong, they misjudge close offside calls, wrongly award goals and get fooled by diving players. Actually thinking of that, a dive button with the potential to hoodwink the ref when used at a very precise moment and when there is actually some contact between players would be superb. These human errors would all go towards injecting FIFA with the personality, debate and controversy that makes football so interesting.

Suggestion 8

Harsher stamina levels

Within FIFA 13 players can sprint back and forth across the length of the pitch for ninety minutes and still have enough juice in the tank to bomb around the pitch all over again for extra time. Basically this is because the stamina system is way too lenient. It allows players to endlessly hoof the ball forward to their strikers knowing they will be able to sprint and reach it every single time. It also allows players to pressure the opposition all over the pitch in a highly unrealistic and aggressive manner for the entire match without the fear of suffering any consequences.

Suggestion 9

Allow me to dictate whether I play a fast or slow pass and not the game.

FIFA has an annoying habit of slowing a pass to walking pace even when you’ve powered it up and you are facing the player you wish to pass to. This is especially true when you attempt a short to medium range pass across the width of the pitch. To eradicate this and afford me the variety, creativity and freedom I’d have in real life when choosing how to pass I recommend allocating a shoulder button that changes the speed of the pass under certain circumstances. Then I would have the option to speed up the pass whenever I felt it was appropriate. Although thinking about it, perhaps this would only work if it was restricted to an area around 20-25 yards from the opposition goal, I assume people would abuse it otherwise.

Suggestion 10

Cancel auto locking onto the ball

The player needs to be a separate entity from the ball at all times, they would then be free to move towards or away from the ball at will.

The current auto locking creates problems with volleys and any ball that hangs in the air on the edge of the box. It also forces players to run towards loose passes even though you are actually wanting them to move away.

Suggestion 11

Bin rain matches with water logged pitches

Yeah I know football matches are played in the rain, but the rain tends to speed up the ball and make it zip across the surface, but in FIFA’s madcap world the opposite is true. I can’t remember many real life games where the rain was that heavy that it caused a waterlogged pitch and slowed the ball down, it’s 2013 and stadiums have measures in place to protect the pitch from heavy rain. I’d suggest keeping the rain matches, but make them less regular and ensure they are realistic by quickening any shots and passes played across the pitch surface.

Suggestion 12

Personality goes a long way!

Add real-life personalities to the AI teams and players. Stoke should play like Stoke and Messi should be tearing me a new ass hole every game by effortlessly skipping through my hopeless defence. Bin the robotic identikit players and teams and grab a piece of the excitement and variety real world personalties would offer instead.

Wow, that was a long one! Well there you have it EA your new features and fixes for FIFA 14/15. I look forward to your email thanking me and a big cheque in the post! If you need any more help gimme a bell, you’ve got my number right?

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