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Are football games getting too realistic?

Opinion: Tom Pakinkis says it's time to face reality...

On Monday, I curled CVG's FIFA 11 review into the top corner of the net. The internet that is (I-thank-you).

Go and have a butchers by all means, but I'll do you a short-form version: I loved the knee-length socks off of it.

It's the most realistic football experience to come out of a screen bar a TV broadcast - and surely that's exactly what we're looking for, right? Apparently not, according to a few voices from the back.

It seems that some people can't accept that not all players will have the ability to rocket down the pitch, that defenders are probably not going to be likely candidates for a match-winning volley.

Some people still want to be scoring goals from the half-way line. For the love of Eto'o!

Be careful what you wish for, I say. We all saw what happened when Ubisoft tried to re-invent football in the name of fun. Pure Football was born determined to strip out everything from between the terraces apart from those killer moments of spectacle.

What we got was an inexplicable foul-fest, where double-footed, studded slides into the back of opponent's legs were left unpunished because tending to the injured is for boring dweebs. In short, Pure Football was about as pure as a WAG.

I get the feeling that the people who want EA Sports to tone down the realism in FIFA probably pricked up their ears when they heard the notion of "added-time multi-ball" suggested in that Budweiser advert. Should we stick blue shells into F1 2010 too?

Okay, maybe that's a bit much, but to say that a realistic football game isn't fun is to make out that football itself isn't fun; as if it needs to be spiced up in the world to constitute proper entertainment.

This isn't Ace Attorney, people. While I can understand why a virtual day in the life of a lawyer would need a bit of extra razzmatazz thrown in to up the drama, surely a direct port of the world's favourite sport onto your PS3 is just fine and dandy? They call it the beautiful game for a reason, you know...

The thing is, I know what those critical of FIFA 11 are looking for - they're looking for PES 5. They're looking for larger than life caricatures of legends like Malgani, who had an in-built capability to glide through defenders with minimal input from the actual player. But that ain't football - that's a tribute to the game.

Don't get me wrong, I don't actually want to play 90 minute matches. I'd hate to see the day when the half-time pause screen in FIFA is replaced by a mini-game that tasks me with removing the peel from an orange without getting juice in my eye.

And although racing home after the match in a Bentley to some supermodel girlfriend before sinking nine holes with a nostalgic David May could have some excellent and varied gameplay mechanics, it wouldn't exactly be heart-pounding stuff.

I admit I'm a sucker for official licences and the sound of Tyler and Gray massages my ear-drums (in far more gentle a manner than the staccato screech of Champion and Beglin), but ultimately I think I just yearn for a bit more weight to my play.

Yes, there was a time when that meant a slower pace and a more mundane experience. FIFA 08 went very wrong and did little more than confuse me as I pondered how I'd ever beat a defender with geriatric players apparently thigh deep in mud.

In my book though, with 11, FIFA ebbs and flows perfectly - just like a real game of footy should. That realism offers a different kind of excitement in this pundit's eyes.

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