Fifa 12 hit me over the head like an Adebayo Akinfenwa tackle. I’d been playing the Fifa games since the PS2’s 2006 Fifa World Cup. I had never played anything else quite as consistently or obsessively (except Oblivion much later– yes, I’m one of those people who thinks it’s better than Skyrim, sue me). I realised that, not only did I hate playing Fifa; I had come to resent the whole series. I’ve always accepted my bitter feelings for the game, but I don’t think I’ve ever really tried to understand them rationally, nor attempted to identify what they actually were – until now. So, as John Terry (probably) once said to Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend: brace yourself.
Quite simply, it made me want to throw my controller out of the window. Obviously, there are the things that most YouTubers cover in half a video, which aren’t worth re-hashing. We all know about the stupid animations, the way players will turn into Harry Potter from that bit in the Chamber of Secrets where he loses all his bones. We all know about the stupid goalkeeping errors and programming. And we all know that literally on the same day with the same four-star rated team you could thrash Barcelona and Bayern München, and then five minutes later have 30 shots on goal and still lose 0-1 to Wigan Athletic, all to the tune of that sexist oaf Andy Gray telling you that you really should have done better.
Also, the players they picked for the front cover really bothered me. The games used to feature the best players in the world – Messi, Rooney, Ronaldinho, Kaka. In Germany, Bastian Schweinsteiger; in Spain, David Villa. But in Britain, aside from Fifa 10’s Frank Lampard, there was always a weird obsession with including “the next big thing”, usually from Arsenal, who was always injured and career-shattered by next season: Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshire, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, for example. At least for Fifa 14 they deigned to have the brilliant and not English Gareth Bale. But then Fifa 16 had Jordan Henderson on it, and they’d screwed up again.
However, what made me angrier was the career mode. I mean, okay, it was decent. They tried. They were always fighting a losing battle, given the boring fact that your reward for finishing a season was… another season. But for me, it started getting vaguely promising when they introduced the “Be a Pro” versions of Career mode. But – talking about real people life for a sec – I always used to play in goal when I was younger. And you were only able to play as a goalkeeper on Fifa 11. I don’t begrudge the developers for this whatsoever; it must have been incredibly difficult to figure out how to programme that feature. In the end, it worked about 70% of the time. But it was one of the most depressing things ever, starting a match with an average rating of 6.0, saving a penalty, clearing up 3 through balls, smothering one through on goal, gathering a few corners – only to dive clean over the ball for some reason one time in the second half, and ending the game with a rating of 4.0.
On the topic of licensing issues and complete and utter jokes, it’s taken them this long to add female athletes? After all, they added the Russian League in 2010. But oh, how sweet of them, the tagline for Fifa 16, the first to feature female athletes, is “Play Beautiful.” At least they could have been grammatically correct while they objectified female athletes – heck, have Andy Gray discussing the length of their shorts and how they don’t know the rules while you’re at it, go the whole hog! To me it just sums up the organisation of Fifa in general: up to their eyeballs in corruption, misogyny and bitterness.
Combine the horror of Fifa with the idiocy of EA, and the crud sandwich is complete. They’re perfect for each other, really. Fifa, the corrupt money-grabbing hive of nepotism, and EA, that crusher of promising games and dreams, the company which almost single-handedly pioneered the type of game where you have to buy most of it as online DLC content.
Finally, I should probably mention that the “Classic XI”, made up of the best players from history, used to always drive me up the wall. There may well have been some kind of licensing issues going on there, but for the official Fifa game to not include Pele and Maradona was a joke. I always suspected the reason they didn’t include the famous goalkeeper Lev Yashin (the only goalkeeper to ever receive the prestigious Ballon d’Or) was because he played for the Soviet Union. I’d almost rather they just didn’t bother with the “Classic XI”.
As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the Fifa series. But I think what irritated and sickened me more than any of the above ever could was the simple lie they kept feeding me. Every year, Fifa was going to get better. Every year, this year would be THE year. We’d have the content we wanted, the gameplay we wanted, the features we wanted. They always said that they’d fixed it, but the truth was they never did. They put new glitter and sparkles on the same old and tired husk, tweaked the game mechanics and the graphics, updated the teams, and that was it. And I feel sick to my gut that I fell for it for so many years, and spend so much money on it. There are better games out there, better things to spend my money on. It’s been 4 years since I played a Fifa game, and I don’t miss it one bit. Good riddance.