With FIFA 14 officially announced today, with promised revisions of the dribbling system and the long superfluous career mode, for its customary September launch, we thought this a good time as any to revisit the brilliant and oft-frustrating time-vacuum FIFA 13 and a look at five of its most infuriating elements (and feel free to add your own pet-peeves in the comments).
5. The off-side trap & AI defending
The perfectly played off-side trap is a wonder to behold in the modern (real life) game; a wonder of remarkable precision and timing that can reap great reward from great risk. That's all well and good but propose to play the OST on FIFA 13 (against a particularly rapid striker, for example) and not only will the ploy often seem redundant, it's damn-near game-destroying, as brain-dead computer-controlled defenders will step up right past a dribbling allowing him and his buddies to walk through your defence almost at will. The AI at times has your Chiellinis acting like Brambles and sometimes there’s nigh-on nothing you can do to stop it.
Judging from the sheer abundance of in-game glitchery apparent in modern video games, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they are an inevitable flaw in a game made up with more lines of code than Dean Ashton's had hot dinners. But since the game's release late last September, 13 was plagued by a plethora of odd happenings: invisible footballs marred tense online games, players were FUS RO DAH'd as the slightest shoulder-to-shoulder connection sent some players spiralling across the pitch like a demon, among a whole host of experience-bothering problems.
The problems with goalkeepers in FIFA 13 are two-fold. Firstly, the AI can be patchy: keepers routinely flit between cat-like reflexes and remote-smashingly annoying mistakes. Petr Cech can make a wonder-save to stop a certain goal at one moment and allow a Callum McManaman daisy-cutter to slip through his fingers like melted butter the next. Secondly, the commentators are almost spitefully anti-goalkeepers. Everything is their fault. Martin Tyler is forever sticking it to the man between the sticks as he declares that “This might not be one of his best games, but that was one of his best saves” of a poor goalkeeper claiming his first shot on target.
Though often more quirkily annoying than infuriating, players are stuck with listening to Alan Smith spray rambled-punditry around Martin Tyler anecdotes. Smith's quips range from dull musings on team form (despite these summations often bearing little resemblance to the team's ACTUAL FORM) to the quite bizarre: several longer observations are rambling and muddled, like a man coming out of a coma, stuttering and starting about how he never quite fancied taking penalties himself. Obviously nobody wants Andy Gray's outdated melodramatic rhetoric back on the box, but Smith makes me shout “JUST SHUT UP!” at the television screen more often than I'd care to admit. Of course, if you're playing in the cup you get Andy Townsend co-commentating with Clive Tyldsley – nobody wants that.
1. Online play
Far removed from the smooth-sailing of FIFA 12's “H2H Season”, 13's online modes were a hodge-podge of the infuriating and the plain-unplayable. Initially, online players were stuck in Arena limbo every other time they tried to play a game, with FIFA servers apparently stretched to breaking points seldom seen outside of Eamonn Holme's waistband. Remotes flew at screens, screens were threatened with windows and a fair few (myself included) gave up on playing what had been a massive element of the previous games. While issues were eventually addressed, problems remained: among the most bile-inducing, “Online Pass” passwords were deemed incorrect with a flagrant disregard for the diminishing sanity of a sub-culture of male gamers whose sanity has often deserted them anyway.