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Focus On FIFA – Part 4: Scripting

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Here it is – the main event of our series of FIFA articles. Thee single biggest problem I have had with any FIFA game I’ve been playing, since 1993.  This is going to be a very controversial topic and probably one where I lose any sort of credibility (if I had any to begin with!) with some people who refuse to believe there is some shenanigans going on. However, I’m not the only one to bring this up. Just look at the EA Sports forums to see for yourself. It’s there and a lot of people know it.

This “scripting” is the theory that a lot of your matches in FIFA 12 (and some say 11 as well) is influenced by coding in the game. It can either; make the match extremely easy for you or the opposite; make your life a living hell no matter how well you play. Players suddenly gain or lose ability. Goalkeepers become inept or “man of the match“. Shots either fly into the postage stamp corner or they fly into the foyer where the punters are queuing to buy their pies and bovril.

[EA Sports Guy] EA’s Scripting – It’s In The Game! [/EA Sports Guy]
I started to notice a pattern in the “Match Details” when I had an absolute uphill struggle of a game. Goalkeepers were being awarded “man of the match”.  The CPU (or even online opponent) were winning the game with 1 shot while I had about 19 shots and 8 of them were on target. I had the standard 3 or 4 fouls and the opponent committed ZERO fouls. How a team can commit zero fouls in a game of football is beyond me. The CPU does it consistently! I also noticed that you are probably going to hit the post or crossbar at some point during these matches. I started to take mental notes of this and then I seen the “scripting” work in the opposite way for me.

All of a sudden, I’m in blistering form. I win 7-0 and I had 10 shots on target. The CPU (or online opponent) would be lucky to have 1 shot OFF target. The opponent would commit at least one foul. Their goalkeeper would no longer win “man of the match” award (and rightly so with that scoreline!). When I found out I was doing this piece, I started to turn my mental notes into hard evidence. Here are some examples of what I have been explaining:

Example 1 – As you can see, I lost 2-0 which is fine. I can’t win all the time! But the manner of the defeat and the “Match Facts” shown afterwards sent alarm bells ringing. As you can see, Corinthians’ goalkeeper got the “man of the match” award and Corinthians only had 2 shots in the entire match, they scored with both. They also committed zero fouls from 10 tackles. Sao Paulo (yours truly) had 9 shots and only 3 of them were on target. Even with the 3 shots on target, I still got more than Corinthians’ 2 shots. But they won the game. I must be shite at FIFA right?
Example 2 – This shows a very similar scenario. I didn’t win the game (SHOCK!) but again it’s the manner of the defeat. Once again, good old Julio Cesar plays another blinder and gets the highest rating. Corinthians got another 100% success rate with shots on target-to-goals ratio. 1 shot was all that was needed to stop me winning. Sao Paulo had 15 shots, 11 of them on target but only 1 goal! (which was a penalty by the way). The foul count is imbalanced again, this time Corinthians only commit one single foul from 14 tackles (the said penalty I scored from).
Example 3 – Another powerhouse display from the CPU goalkeeper who is the highest rated player at a near perfect 9.9! Fluminense only had 2 shots – 2 on target and scored 1 with both of those at a 100% and 50% success rate respectively. They also committed zero fouls again! Sao Paulo on the other hand had NINETEEN shots, 10 of them hitting the target but only 1 goal. Shot accuracy is nearly half of what Fluminense achieved.

So far, I must be sounding like a really sore loser. “Oh, you’re just blaming your crap FIFA ability on scripting!“. I can deal with a defeat and be disappointed in myself – but not my copy of FIFA! However, this theory of scripting swings both ways. Sometimes, you just can’t do anything wrong! The pendulum has well and truly swung. Here is the evidence of matches I played which turned into Sunday strolls:

Example 1 – Sao Paulo just pumped Cruzeiro 6-0. Well done to me…or FIFA? Cruzeiro only had 1 shot on target and they never scored from it. They never committed any fouls though! Again, the CPU with a perfect tackling system. This is a special note for this match – Cruzeiro suffered 2 injuries in a match where everything just went my way. Sao Paulo have 15 shots and 12 of them were on target! That’s nearly every shot I hit on target compared to before when I started to feel sorry for the wee guys sitting in row Z! 6 of these 12 shots on target resulted in a goal. 50% success rate. Quite an improvement! I must be getting better at FIFA!
Example 2 – Sao Paulo are just running amok again. What a team! Yeah, you get the gist of where I’m heading for here. It’s getting quite repetitive isn’t it? Botafogo never even managed a shot on target. A shot accuracy of 0%. They must be another shit team you say? Not quite. Sao Paulo ripped that poor goalkeeper a new one with 20 shots raining down on his goal and 14 hitting target. This results in 5 goals. OH, and Botafogo managed to get 1 foul out of 17 tackles YAYYY, a foul!

I’m going to keep the visual aids going here and show you a video (courtesy of YouTube user “baronesbc” ) which shows small working examples of this scripting. These are the mini-incidents which culminate into a match where it feels impossible to win.

There you have it. I didn’t think they could be able to deny it but EA actually have. They released a 20 minute podcast of an EA rep pleading their case saying there is no scripting in the game. There actually is a script to adjust player animations at half-time such as: if they are losing then they’ll be moaning or; winning then commending their team-mates etc. He also admitted to EA having a script in the Euro 2008 game but they swear they don’t do it any more.

I don’t believe them. If there was some way to prove to me 100% with cold, hard evidence that there was NO scripting whatsoever then EA still have a problem on their hands. If scripting or “momentum” really is non-existent, your customers still shouldn’t have the feeling that there is a script dictating the result of their matches. Yes – there is some sort of scripting based on the AI difficulty of Easy, Medium, Hard and Legendary etc. but something in there needs fixed (weather it is a removal of a script or not).

Well, on that bombshell, that concludes our “Focus On FIFA” series. Judging by the form EA have been on in recent years I am not holding my breath for many of these improvements in FIFA 13, which will be released this week. If they did correct all these faults then I’d be a very happy gamer. The fact that there are so many of these issues is a real shame because FIFA 12 had the potential to be a brilliant football game. Yes – I do realise it is quite a lengthy list but it is this sort of feedback and criticism that could help EA refine future FIFA games and keep them at the top of the pile as a distant leader in sports gaming.

One last thing – bring back Andy Gray to the commentary team!

About The Author
James Kennedy Senior Editor
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