Fifa 11...how you have failed me.
A year ago, I was a Fifa addict. I don’t mean that in the way people usually refer to being addicted to seemingly petty things. “OMG, I’m addicted to Modern Family.” Would you start having convulsions if you missed an episode? No? Then shut up. You’re not addicted. After 3 hours or so of not playing Fifa, I would punch a nun in order to get my hands on a controller. I’m not sure in what scenario punching a nun would ever be some sort of pre-requisite for playing Fifa – but I’m just saying, if Sister Mary Clarence was all that was standing between me and the sweet caress of commentator Martin Tyler’s voice… no hesitation.
Just in case my nun analogy didn’t sufficiently clarify this point, let me reiterate – I was addicted to Fifa. My Larkin friends and I would put in a good 4-5 hours of fif-ing a day, every day, for the entirety of Winter, Spring, and Summer quarters. Don’t judge me. I’m not proud of it.
Why did my friends and I put such an ungodly amount of time into playing Fifa? Because Fifa 10 was, and is still, the most fun video game I have ever played. Plus the fact that you can play simultaneously with three other people in the same room makes you feel slightly less pathetic about spending a third of your waking hours on a video game. It’s a social experience…shut up, that’s the way I’m rationalizing it.
But why was Fifa 10 so fun? Because it was realistic…but not too realistic. I felt like I was playing something that closely resembled soccer, but I was fine with the fact that the game allowed me to do things that would never happen in a real soccer game. When I was in my prime, I could make Ronaldo dribble past 4 defenders, triple elastico past Rio Ferdinand, rainbow the ball over the keeper’s head, and then celebrate by doing a triple back flip. Fine by me. I walk away from that situation thinking “God I’m awesome” not, “That’s pretty unlikely that that would actually happen. I sure wish the game wouldn’t have let me do that.”
It was by no means common to see things like this in Fifa. What the players did was a reflection of the skill of the person playing the game. If someone had never picked up the game before they would be god-awful at it for at least a few weeks. If two people of average skill were playing each other, the game would typically be low-scoring and would be absent of any jaw-dropping maneuvers. But if you were the kind of person like me that put an utterly disgusting amount of hours into the game, you could do some pretty sick stuff.
But alas the game had its flaws. The defenders were unable to intercept passes without slide tackling. The only way to score one-on-one was to chip the goalie. You could feed a perfect through ball to your forward from 50 yards away without fail. There were elements of the game that were distractingly unrealistic. They needed to be fixed.
But in Fifa 11, EA cranked up the realism - and then some. Their thought process was “People are complaining that there are certain elements that are unrealistic. They must want a video game that is exactly like real soccer.” So they fixed what needed to be fixed, but then they kept “fixing” things. Players are slower and can’t cut as fast. Now, even the shiftiest forward can’t shake a single defender. Passes are also more “realistic”. They sold this feature as meaning that they were accounting for the random error and unique touch that is involved with every pass. In actuality, this means that the game arbitrarily decides when to have your players arbitrarily shank what would otherwise be a perfectly executed pass. Because in real life, sometime even the best shank a pass for no reason… screw you EA. If I press the right buttons, the players should act accordingly. If I tell my players to do sick stuff, they should do sick stuff.
That brings me to the next issue of disappointment, the utter lack of ability to do sick stuff. When the EA realism police was running their fine tooth comb through Fifa 10, they noticed that the amount of sick stuff done in the game was significantly higher than in real life. No longer! Now, even Messi struggles with moves I was doing in pee-wee soccer. Yes, I played pee-wee soccer at one point. Don’t judge me. I’m not proud of it. I didn’t know about football yet.
On the topic of football, Madden is yet another franchise that EA seems intent to ruin with excessive realism
The point being is that these changes vastly diminish the “game” aspect of video game. The pace of play is slower, there are far fewer goals, and again most disappointingly, there is a tragic absence of the doing of sick stuff. What we are left with is not a soccer video game, but a soccer simulator. That’s not what I played $60 for. That not what 2.2 million Americans payed $60 for on Fifa 11’s opening weekend. I highly doubt the U.S. has 2.2 million diehard soccer fans, what it has are 2.2 million people who want be able to do a Maradona around 3 defenders and then strike a goal off of a chest volley from the top of the 18. Stop worrying about the purity and realism of your games and just give the people what they want.