It’s FIFA 15’s ‘Pro Clubs’. There. Done. Next!
Ok. Maybe I’ll elaborate. There were plenty of contenders for ‘most frustrating game mode’, and this is of course a very personal vote… as I was the only person voting. In fact, I’m sure that there are more frustrating game modes out there – but at this very moment, ‘Pro Clubs’ is directly in my crosshairs. And for good reason too.
Pro Clubs is a game mode on FIFA 15, present since FIFA 10 (I believe), where you and ten other friends are able to create and control a starting eleven of your online ‘pros’, to compete against other teams of ‘pros’ in a division style set-up. It’s like Seasons meets Be A Pro meets FUT. You pick the team’s name, the stadium in which they play and the strip that they wear, and you then play against other teams, online, to see who is the best. The leagues work in the same way as Seasons or Ultimate Team – good form will see you promoted through the divisions (10-1), average form will see you remain in your division and poor form will lead to demotion. Now, this game mode has always been a bit buggy, and EA have gone some way to bringing the mode forward from the days of ‘hacked pros’ where players could have a pro who was 7ft and 250lbs with a rating of 99 overall. Also gone are the days where teams could quit in the first five minutes (if they’d conceded an early goal) and not be penalised for quitting early, being given a clean slate to start over instead. But, despite this headway, the game mode is still pretty frustrating.
You can’t automatically skip replays
Obviously, you can’t automatically skip replays on any game mode in FIFA 15 – which is annoying in itself. However, it’s even more infuriating when up to twenty-two people have to skip a replay. Occasionally, when playing Seasons, you might come across a kind soul who doesn’t force you to watch the replay of their rat goal, but it’s pretty unlikely to find eight people all willing to do the same. That means you’ll be spending a lot of your time watching the same rat goal, with the same pros with their stupidly oversized blue afros, doing the same stupid celebrations over, and over, and over again. You’ll also have to wait at half-time for the full thirty seconds (which feels like a lifetime, by the way) and view the teams coming out of the tunnel to line-up. Every. Single. Game.
The teams are imbalanced
Statistically, most of the pros will be around the same rating in FIFA 15, and the ‘computer players’, that they put in the teams to fill the spaces which could be taken by other pros, are always rated depending on the league. So, statistically, the teams are pretty fairly balanced. What I’m talking about here is the number of pros you’ll play against. At most, me and my friends make up a team of five or six, leaving me (as the ‘Any’ player) to control the other six or five computer players, and my created pro. However, on average we play with three of us – two strikers and a midfielder. That’s a pretty decent size for a team because it leaves one player to control the creativity of the midfield, another player to make intelligent runs and the final player (usually me) to play as the rest of the team. However, on more times than I care to remember we’ve been put up against teams consisting of anywhere between seven to eleven pros. And, suffice to say, that unbalancing is pretty clear to see. Trying to play against a team of seven or eight players (with an average rating of 88), who won’t keep to a fixed position compared to your clunky, slow computer players (with an average rating of 78), is a bit of a challenge to say the least. If we’re lucky, the opposition will be disorganised and attack heavy, leaving the back open. If we’re not lucky, however, we’ll be beaten into a ten goal defeat… though we’ve usually quit before it gets quite that bad.
The servers are appalling
Understandably, EA pumps most of its money into FUT – because that’s where they make most of their money back. Pro Clubs, however, has no financial gain, so we’re usually left on the side-lines. The servers are pretty poor as it is, but considering we spent the first month of FIFA 15 unable to connect to a single Pro Clubs game, or being quit out five minutes before the end, it would be nice if they cared just a little about us. The servers are still shocking, and we’ll often be quit out of games, being burdened with a loss for EA’s mistake. On other occasions, we’ll be winning 3-0, the opposition will get quit out and, trying to be fair to everyone, EA will call it even and make it as though the game never happened. It doesn’t calculate a final score, instead it just brushes the past twenty minutes under the rug, like they never happened, and gives you the game back to start again. Not cool, EA. Not cool.
The computer players are dreadful…
Surprisingly enough, the players that EA gives you, to fill the gaps left by an absence of pros, are pretty damn shocking. First of all, none of them are built like footballers. They look more like Rugby players from the eighties, and rather than utilising FIFA 15’s improved graphics and mechanics, they’re all a uniform shape and size. So a centre-back will be the same height as a goalkeeper, a midfielder or a winger. They’re all equally slow, in-agile and generally stupid. They also can’t string a series of passes together to save their lives, and their first touches leave a lot to be desired. In all, they’re a useless bunch of twats who have almost given me a stress induced heart attack on a number of occasions.
… which makes the whole game pretty fucking aggravating
And, surprisingly enough, their ineptitude makes FIFA 15’s Pro Clubs pretty damn aggravating. Their first touches will be so poor that they’ll give away possession in their own box, rather than clear the ball from your area. Their passes are so weak, hard or inaccurate that any decent move will be embarrassingly extinguished. Their shots are the definition of the famous quote, “high, wide and not at all handsome”. And their tackles are so poor that they’ll give away penalties and free-kicks left, right and centre… assuming that they actually attempt to make a challenge, rather than just running in to them and barging them over. I’ve lost count of the number of times that a player has scored an own-goal when miss controlling a ball, kicked a ball out for a corner when slicing a clearance, hacked down a player in the box when I’m not even controlling them and taken out one of our team mates, just as they’re about to shoot. Overall, it’s like playing football with a team of Mr Beans.
The game hates you
I’ve saved the best till last. Need three points for promotion with just one game of the season remaining? You’ll all simultaneously lose connection to FIFA 15 and EA’s servers, gifting the points to the opposition. Need just one point to win the title? Your goalkeeper will punch the ball from a corner into the back of his own net, in extra time, to ensure that you lose 2-1. About to score the winning goal, seconds before the final whistle? You’ll press the shoot button, but instead of actually shooting, a little shoot icon will appear above your character’s head, informing those around you that they should shoot. Need to score a penalty to go one goal ahead? The game won’t let you take the penalty, and instead it will make you wait the allotted time in which you’re able to take the penalty yourself, and then shoot for you – smashing the ball both high and wide of the goal. I could easily keep going. But if you still don’t believe me, here’s a video we made of one of our goalkeepers trying to save it with his head – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRPG90xUowk and here’s a video of FIFA 15’s Pro Clubs mode screwing up to such an extent that I was being made to play the game in FIFA’s replay mechanic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixBY37t9034