A blog. Years ago I already tried to start one. A place where you can put some random pieces of text, let out some frustrations or share something with the world. And even though that blog didn’t draw in an audience I had fun doing it. You can never underestimate the joy of getting something off your chest.
At some point in time Facebook bursted onto the scene. A new platform which connected you directly to the people you knew or interested you and the urge to blog disappeared. Facebook was the new place to be. You shared you entire private life on Facebook and a lot of people still do so with true passion. I’m just not one of them. Facebook is slowly yet very surely turning into a ad-infested platform where people post endless streams of “funny” videos, hundreds of “He did this and can never guess what happened next” articles and where an honest, personal message from someone that could actually interest you gets lost in a pile of shit. Finding that personal message is like finding a clean tissue inside that same pile of shit. It just can’t be done. Therefor I’m moving my writings and rants from Facebook back to my own little space that I have full control over. And to soothe the transition from digging through piles of shit on Facebook to this blog I give you the first subject: EA Sports FIFA 15.
The FIFA series is eeasily the game series that I’ve played the most in my gaming lifetime. Starting in 1997 when there were hardly enough bits and bytes to put 11 players on the pitch, 1998 with a soundtrack for the ages all the way up to its current incarnation: FIFA 15. People that scour Google might even find loads of kitpacks I created for its releases from the early 2000s. During that 15+ year period there were some sidesteps to Pro Evolution Soccer but I can safely say that the current FIFA games offer an experience that is worse than those older versions.
Before this turns into a giant heap of “back then things were better” nostalgia it’s important to point out a big difference between the FIFA games of today and those of days past. The older FIFA games gave you more of an arcade feeling. Pro Evolution Soccer was the game to play if you wanted realism. Somewhere over the years however that balance has shifted. And no matter how hard FIFA strives for ultimate realism: as soon as you start a match against another real life player (and that tends to happen when you play online) all the rules of the real world go overboard.
Some context: I usually play Pro Clubs, a mode where you get together with some friends, create a player, train him and play matches to eventually bask in the glory of the Division 1 title. In an online competition you then battle it out against different teams usually consisting of approximately 3 human-controlled players who share the same goal of getting that highest prize. At least, you would think they do. The amount of blue-haired, afro-wearing, colored players with blonde beards, funny noses and weird mouths is shocking. If this is a representation of the world population at this point, then I need to go out more and take a look around. A quick search on Youtube leads you to loads of videos explaining you how to quickly unlock the afro. The amount of videos dedicated to the topic makes me weep uncontrollably. Why it is even possible to create such a “funny” looking player in a game that preaches realism? I have no idea.
When you can get over all these physical abnormalities you can focus on the gameplay. Playing the ball along different parts of the pitch until you can finally find that flaw in someones defence and you can put someone one on one with the goalkeeper after giving a great pass. A real test of your skills. Unfortunately that part of the game experience was swept under the rug for some reason. Most teams know all the exploits in the AI and only need to give 1 high ball from their own half to lure every defender into becoming a retard. Two through balls also usually do the trick (if they even need 2). Suddenly walking into a different direction when approaching the defenders also never fails, because the AI goes into full retard mode when you get near them. It’s horrible. Factoring in a goalkeeper who runs towards a one on one situation in such a way that you could park a Boeing 777 in the space he leaves between himself and the inside corner and you can understand that 6 out of 10 games end in pure frustration.
Playing FIFA online is quite frustrating. However, what might be even more frustrating is the fact that FIFA supports and even rewards such behavior. They’ve introduced the “Park the Bus” tactic this year which is wildly adopted as the go-to tactic online. All the players form a wall around the penalty box and you have the privilege to try and make your way through them. FIFA 16 will most likely have the feature to stack 10 players on the goal line to ensure that the goalkeeper doesn’t have that much room left to defend. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking: “I haven’t given Pro Clubs a try yet, maybe I should go ahead and try it”, then I have some bad news for you. At least, if you’re bigger than 1.70m (5’7″) due to your stats drastically dropping when you create a player bigger than that. When you’re a big guy (like me, 1.92 (6’4″)) you must be a horrible soccer player in EA Sports’ mind. When I create a player that has my own physical traits becomes slower than trying to shit through a funnel. Also, when you’re not a central attacking midfielder (CAM) you will never score a free kick, because that role apparently is the only one that gives you a decent free kick boost. In short: My scrotum starts itching when I think about it.
So why buy this game every year? It’s not that hard to simply not buy it? Is it that shred of hope that something has changed for the better in the mode that you love playing but has been standing still in its development over the years? Or is it those few matches that do give you the fun that you’re trying to get from the game because apparantly your set of CPU players have gotten some new braincells from the Xbox One cloud all of a sudden? Or is it that small group of opponents that are just like you. Who are not playing the game like a retard. That small village that still holds out against the invaders with their blue afros. Those few brave indomitable Gauls. I’m proud to be one of them.