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Focus On FIFA – Part 1: Referees And Physics

by on September 3, 2012  

FIFA 13 is nearly upon us so, we, here at TheKoalition.com are going to focus on how to improve the series.

I have been playing the FIFA series since it’s inception on the Mega Drive with the first title known as “FIFA International Soccer” which was released in 1993. I purchased nearly every FIFA that has been released since then (I may have missed out on 96) and there has been many changes throughout the years which has helped cement FIFA as the number 1 selling sports video game in the world.

However, there is plenty of room for improvement and we are going to break it down into several parts. These will be my gripes and suggestions which would make FIFA 13 a better football game than FIFA 12.

Referees

The most important man on the pitch. Without him, weather we like it or not, we wouldn’t have a game to enjoy. However, EA have somehow made referees even more hated than they already are through the magic that is FIFA 12. Here are the reasons why:

Referee Kit Colours – Is it so hard to ask for the same code that deciphers clashing players kits to be implemented into the referees kit? I have loads of matches where the referees kits are just mind-bogglingly similar to the players kits. Check out the examples I have given:

Could he not just wear yellow?!

Offsides – The rule of the game that has produced countless hours of debate for the average football fan. “Was he, or was he not offside?” Well, in previous editions of FIFA the ref would be able to get this 100% correct due to it being a computer running the show. In FIFA 12, there have been many incidents where the player that is called back for being offside is in actuality ONSIDE. The replays show that the players are onside. In my opinion, this shouldn’t be an issue whatsoever, the games console should be our own home version of goal-line technology. From my understanding, EA want to add some “real-life situations” into the game such as these botched decisions.

Referees Having “Personalities” – I believe that this feature was introduced in FIFA 10 but for me it has had a negative effect on my enjoyment of FIFA. Some referees are more lenient towards fouls than others are. Sergey Piputkin (Lol) might not deem a certain tackle a yellow whilst Hayden Pennyfeather (Yes, these are the real names) will give you a booking. Again, just like my previous point, FIFA is on a video game console. It should be black or white. Sometimes I’m not playing FIFA with the commentary on to let me know if this ref is going to be lenient or not. I’ll make a challenge on an opponent thinking it’s run-of-the-mill foul and I get a harsh yellow or vice-versa – I’ll receive a challenge from an opponent which I think is card-worthy and nothing is given! Ditch the personalities please.

Penalties – Once again, tied in with my previous point, penalties awarded or not awarded has become VERY shady. Since EA introduced the player impact engine the decisions on penalties have become atrocious. I have had many incidents where I have either hacked down my opponent to stop them scoring (or vice-versa) and no penalty has been awarded! Numerous times this has happened when I’m playing against my mates and we make it a point to go into instant replay just to make sure and time and time again, we are all gob-smacked that a COMPUTER REFEREE has not picked up on these blatant penalty shouts. (See that? I managed to refrain from using the word stone-waller!)

Referee Positioning – The man in the middle is calling the shots. Not through decisions or bad calls but by dispossessing the pass-master Xavi and giving the ball to Xabi Alonso instead! Yes, referees getting in the way of passes and shots. This happens way too often. Sure, it can happen on a rare occasion in a real game of football but come on! Referees sometimes fall over or slip during a match, you might as well go the whole hog and have referees randomly fall over every other match! But obviously EA hasn’t added this because that would be ridiculous wouldn’t it?

Game Physics

As many would agree, this is a very important part of making a video game, never mind a football game. There are several issues which stick out like a sore thumb for me when it comes to FIFA.

Knocking the Ball Forwards Whilst Sprinting – Here’s the scenario: Theo Walcott is sprinting down the wing, he has pace to burn and Ashley Cole is filling up his nappy at the mere thought of him running at him. Have no fear Ashley because whoever is controlling Theo is about to use the right analogue stick to knock the ball forward past you. Sadly, for us playing the game, this usually means the sprinting player in possession unexplainably slows down like he is a dog on a leash and he’s just been yanked back for going too fast for his owners liking.

Rain – Being from the UK, especially in Scotland, I am no stranger to a game of football in the pissing rain. I know the ball can skid along the turf or even hold up if it’s really bad. In FIFA, this is a constant feature for rainy games. There’s no in-between. Your pass is either going to go skidding out of play or it’s going to hold up to the point you’d be better off just holding X until the power metre is full. If the rain eased up during a match like normal weather would then the skidding/slickness of the passing would be manageable. In FIFA, it’s always cats and dogs, there’s never a break from the torrential rain. This can ruin the enjoyment of a match.

Snow – This ties in with my previous point. If it’s a blizzard then the current game ball physics are explainable. It doesn’t always have to be a blizzard with tones of fog though!

The Ball
– In FIFA 08, the ball had some real weight to it. You could feel it in the passing and shooting. Striking the ball perfectly and having it land in the top bin gave me a sense of achievement. Even just the simple big switch-pass across the pitch ala Paul Scholes or Charlie Adam. In today’s real life game, footballs have been worked on by scientists to make the balls lighter such as the notorious Jubulani ball. In FIFA, the ball feels like it has NO weight to it at all. It has no real purchase when you strike the ball. Even with today’s scientific balls, FIFA 08 was the way to go in regards to the ball physics.

Open Goals – Jorg Albertz and Peter Van Vossen are both running through on goal, Stuart Kerr is helpless in this situation. Albertz runs up towards Kerr, giving him no choice but to come out and challenge him. Albertz elects to square the ball to Van Vossen who has an open goal to aim for. Easy enough goal you‘d think…but he blazes it over the crossbar! Incredible. One of the more memorable misses in Old Firm history. This is a rare one-off occasion. Not in FIFA 12.

In FIFA 12, even if you’re Lionel Messi and you have an open goal to slot the ball into the onion bag for an easy goal, all that is right with the world seems to go out the window and Messi crumbles and squeggs it wide. For some unknown reason, player’s abilities become irrelevant and the chance of you scoring a tap-in is somehow less than actually doing “a Van Vossen”. Yes, over time there are plenty of players that do “a Van Vossen” but not at like, 70% of the time!

That is it for now on our focus on the FIFA series. Stay tuned on TheKoalition.com for part 2 coming soon.

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