I hate the FIFA series so much, with almost every bone in my body. Yet, for some unknown reason, despite how angry and frustrated the game makes me, I always come back for more. Every year I purchase the next in the series, every year I play it religiously, every year I’m almost brought to tears by the game. But, just a few hours later, I’ll be back playing it, screaming, shouting and pulling my hair out over its stupidity. I guess I should elaborate.
1) The stupidity of the players is probably the number one grind for me as a gamer. They’re just so moronic at times, even moronic seems like too kind a word to describe the level of idiocy that these computer generated players display. They will miss the ball as they shoot, they will stamp on the ball as they try to hurdle it or back-heel it out of their path, they’ll miss headers, miss tackles and clear the ball into their own players faces. Goalkeepers will miss the ball as they dive to save it, kick it against the back of their own players, parry the ball into the feet of the opposition and even throw the ball into the back of their own net. To be honest, the list goes on, and that’s just a fraction of their stupidity. But, at times, all you can do is laugh. I’ll keep playing the game in the hope that their stupidity is magically cured, though I know that I’m being incredibly hopeful.
2) Sometimes it feels like FIFA has it out for you, as though no matter what you do, or how well you play, FIFA will always make sure that you loose. It’s the fact that when the opposition are piling on the pressure and all you need to do is string a few passes together to keep play going, FIFA will, all of a sudden, turn your players into drooling buffoons. At these times, players will be more likely to boot the ball off the pitch than pass it to a team mate. But, as soon as there’s no pressure and you’re off in the lead, everything will be right as rain again. Yet, for some reason, I will always pick the controller back up again and try over. It’s so easy to forgive FIFA and, to be honest, I can’t think of the reason why.
3) I love playing games online, but FIFA is possibly the most frustrating title to play against others. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t an easy game to play, or perhaps it’s because it’s so easy to be completely humiliated when playing it. Either way, there’s one rule that really grinds on me. I’ve come to know it as the ‘five minute rule’, that piece of coding that means if a player quits before the five minute mark, the result of the game is null and void. It’s incredibly frustrating, when you kick off and quickly break for the counter, you smash the ball from the 40 yard mark, it sours into the top corner of the net and, then, your opponent quits. The goal is forgotten and the game has to be replayed. There are very few things that make me quite so angry.
4) One of my favourite game modes on FIFA is the career mode, and there’s nothing more exciting than discovering young talent. But, there will always be some transfer window blues – mostly because of the stupidity of the transfer window itself. For example, it’s physically impossible to purchase a player after the four hour mark on transfer window closing day. You have to put in an offer, wait for the team to reply (which could take three hours in itself) agree on the terms for the contract and wait for the team to reply again, then you have to wait for the player to agree to his contract. This could take the entire final day; thankfully you never loose the money, but you will never get the player. Not only this, but on occasion the players can come out with some ridiculous reasons for not signing for your club. I approached Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey to sign for my team, Norwich, but he refused to sign for me. What was his reason, you ask? Well, it was, of course, that he did not wish to move to another country. I know that East Anglia can be a little strange at times, but the last time I checked, it’s still part of the United Kingdom. It’s these small, frustrating oddities that could easily ruin a game – but somehow, they don’t. I guess that’s a testament to EA, or to the fact that their competitors are even worse.
5) Finally, I love playing Pro-Clubs, but there is no other game mode that brings me closer to throwing my controller through my television. It’s the fact that the players FIFA gives you are awful and that they’re better built to play rugby than they are football. It’s also the fact that, often, the people you play against are chauvinistic, arrogant pricks and that the majority of the goals scored against you will be ‘rat goals’, (sometimes referred to as ‘Jew Goals’). It’s frustrating to say the least, even infuriating. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve sat screaming at the screen in pure game rage. But, for some completely unknown reason, I always come back for more.
There are far too many reasons for me not to play FIFA. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why I still play it. Maybe it’s because I’m such a massive football fan? Or maybe it’s because I’m slightly unwell, and I just love mental torture. Who knows. All that I know for sure is that I love playing FIFA, despite its many flaws. Perhaps that’s the mark of a really good game – that so many people are able to overlook some glaring problems because they enjoy it so much. Or maybe it’s a sign that developers need to up their game and bring back some competition to the football sports genre.