I hate to say it, but I’m here now, and, well, I have a problem, an addiction. I don’t like confessing it, maybe it’s churlish, pathetic, maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. All I know if it’s here to stay and there’s no escape. I’m addicted to losing.
It started in the late 90s with the Amiga 500’s Sensible Soccer. A simple game, two buttons, two controls, pass and shoot, and it felt like Pac-man with football shorts on. None of the players had names, numbers were enough in those days, playing against the computer willing number 7 or number 9 to hit it, why did they never listen. These were my formative days, Newcastle United taking on the world. Or rather they would have taken on the world if I’d been any good at it. For here is the confession. I never won a game. I would pile up the 1-0 defeats and 3-0 drubbings with my Newcastle team, luckily devoid of feelings and emotions taking the sort of battering Manchester City would inflict on Scarborough Athletic. But I was addicted. The winning didn’t matter, the closer I got to victory the more I would want to play, as I edged ever nearer the goal of victory and the back of the net I dreamed of not having to spend 40 minutes waiting for the game to boot up. Sadly that day never came.
The football game evolved, Sensible Soccer was followed by the Fifa Series, Pro-Evolution Soccer’s forefather, the shortlived Adidas Power Soccer with excessive violence (you could Karate Kick members of the other team without the ref noticing..) to the Pro Evo days. I had one significant victory in all this time when, I brilliantly managed to beat my best friend on the PS1 as Wales against Brazil thanks 24 year old Ryan Gigg’s wonderstrike (this was then followed by the most severe drubbing ever seen which led me to believe he may not have fully been playing or indeed conscious during that legendary match…). I kept my losing streak going, yes I occasionally sneaked a win, but they were nothing compared to the excitement of England led by Alan Shearer and Robbie Fowler scraping a draw with Andorra before falling in the second minute to Israel.
And so I found myself here, 2011 and FIFA 2012. Would my luck change?
As it turns out no. I have, now, finally, realised that I am atrocious at computer games, but that doesn’t stop enjoyment. Fifa 12 is a brilliantly realised game, the graphics, pacing, controls are second to none. Unlike previous incarnations there is a balance between the defensive and attacking quarters. No more 10-11 scorelines. Equally the ways of scoring (although not necessarily winning) are more varied. I remember on Fifa ’98 you could take a corner, aim for the back post and you’d score everytime. Scoring now requires variation, flexibility depending on the team you’re playing and patience. A fast player can no longer simply run at speed past the entire opposition flick the ball up and volley home, the physicality and agility attributes of the player have a direct correlation with your victory. Suddenly transfers move from the traditional “Buy Messi, worry about a defence later” to the football manager-esque “tactical purchase for 2 years time”. While the career mode is much improved, so is the online mode, with good player skill level balancing and a great degree of tactical knowledge playing its part. Opposition playing 3 at the back? Push the wingers up.
This game is a must-buy until Fifa 13 arrives. I still love the defeat and crave the victory, and to avoid that wearing you down too much the game should be commended. My only comment / suggestion for the future would be a) bringing back the 5-a-side mode, popularised in Fifa ’98. It was silly and fun, and let’s be honest, no self respecting 27 year old is going to buy Fifa Street from HMV. And b) let’s bring back the old stars, maybe some sort of dream team mode, imagine having £100 million to spend, who would you buy, Owen in his prime, Alan Shearer, Zidane, Heskey, argue the best of all time teams, now that would take this game to perfection.