I can’t recall the first time I played a FIFA game. It was probably at the end of the 90s, I was just a little kid and thought my dad played in the World Cup. What I do remember perfectly, though, is the first time I got my own FIFA. It was for my beloved GameCube.
It was FIFA 2006, and God knows I had really good times with that game. I spent hours winning tournaments, customizing my own ones and pretending to be a football narrator. I was still young back then, and though I did know how to recognize a good game, I wasn't very critic towards any. In other words, FIFA 2006 was awesome for me, no objections.
Jump to 2009. I receive FIFA 10 for my Xbox 360. So I’m still a stupid teenager, but at least I’m a little more critic about life; and games. The honeymoon stage begins and I start playing the thing. It was great, with all that high definition graphics and… Well, football. It didn't last long, though: besides starting college that year and not having much time, my Xbox 360 got the RROD after a couple of months. I would not have it fixed in my hands again for another year. My time with FIFA 10 had ended, but the honeymoon stage never did.
We arrive at 2012. On my birthday, I get FIFA 12. And so it begins.
First of all, I’m one of those who believe that paying $60 every year for a couple of updates is evil (oh, classic EA). However, it is certainly not illegal. We have to grow up: the company is making money that way and it won’t change because “it’s wrong”. So OK, we’ll have to adjust our wallets. Some of us will find it at a discount, others simply won’t buy it every year, and there’s also the option of borrowing it “for a few days” from that friend who owns it. You know the one.
“No Tim, seriously man. The last person you lent it to was Steve”
But if we are going to do that, we expect a quality product at least. None of the last years’ FIFAs, in my opinion, have achieved that goal thus far. The series has been relying too much on presentation to sell; and sadly, it works. Because you know: the the new soundtracks are always excellent, having the clubs up to date is a must, putting your face on your virtual player is fun, and those new skill challenges are great, now Messi’s on the cover; and how nice, Tim, that little sticker says it’s a FIFA Licensed Product and the game is definitely better because it has that impact system that is so “revolutionary” to the gameplay (clue: it isn't).
Those are the thing we focus in, but now that I finally could go pass the honeymoon stage with FIFA 12, I realize how mediocre the game is; as well as FIFA 10 (I’ve been checking it again) was and probably FIFA 2006 too. I now take into account some serious problems like the long loading times, the crappy save system, the infinite glitches, the unpolished and limited modes and the inconsistent difficulty. Just look at my Game Face, for God’s sake:
They never get the nose right
Yeah, all games have glitches and problems; but the thing is, the developers here have a chance every year to fix them. They don’t. I’ll speak for FIFA 12: I personally lost interest in the career mode as soon as I realized how much time I was spending in the menus and not playing. And OK, maybe some out there do like to spend time on the menus, yet for them I can still imagine the experience being a little frustrating. Again, the loading times are just ridiculous, as well as the menus being unpractical. Then I tried with Ultimate Team, only to be limited again by how unpolished the mode was. Basically, the game unintentionally gave me so many obstacles I just quitted. Then there’s that Game Face I could never make right (not even in FIFA 10) because it would appear with some deformed feature that was, I tell you, not mine. There’s also that time I made a couple of manual changes to some clubs in order to keep them a little more up to date. When I returned to the game the next time, I found almost all teams with random players. Had to go back to default squads and lose all I had done. Then, the inconsistent difficulty. Against the AI, I always won like 5-0. Then I go to the next level, Professional, and lose every time. Ok, that’s a common mistake in games, but then no one tells me how to improve, and the tutorials don’t say much.
Now, the worst part? They don’t really care about it. They sell. Just read this IGN article about how EA had to release a patch for FIFA 13 because of the absurd amount of glitches it had, or maybe this one that confirms that, for the Wii and PS Vita versions, they just grabbed the previous game and released it as a new FIFA. Oh, I also forgot to mention how they didn't release a patch for the Vita version because you know, they’re not going to do it for those three guys who bought it.
Ultimately, I’m not saying that they are bad games. They are fun to play, especially with friends. What I’m saying is that they’re not that good. They’re mediocre, regular; nothing we should be very excited about and certainly, something that should work better for $60 a year. FIFA is still the best option out there, though, because any other franchise that has “soccer” on its name doesn't deserve respect.
Now consider if “borrowing” FIFA 13 from Tim is really worth it.