Disappointment is the default state of a football fan. That’s just the way it works. Because there are 92 clubs, and only one can finish top. Only 10 can be promoted. Only two can win a cup. So, each year, the odds are massively stacked against your club ever doing anything other than bumble along. We protect ourselves against this reality by swigging on blind faith and optimism. It’s a coping mechanism. It allows us to get on with our lives and function as seemingly normal human beings.
But simmering below there remains this desperate, raging hunger for some kind of success - anything. Just give us a morsel; a slither, a wee dram of the good stuff. An LDV final. Anything. We’ll take anything. And if we can’t get it from reality - then reality can piss off. Because we now have access to an alternate world where supporting a crap, shambolic and skint club is no barrier to success.
This is a world which can be accessed in the upcoming FIFA 12 game. The latest version of the classy sports simulation has a mode called EA Sports Football Club. If they can get this to work - it will be ace.
It’s basically an online supporter’s league. When you start the game, you choose your team, and from then on everything you do in FIFA 12 helps earn points for that club. So if you support Bradford City, the points you rack-up will be added to those from of Bantam fans all over the...world? The points amassed by each club are used to create a virtual Division Two.
The supporter league will be run on a weekly basis with the winners crowned at the end of the week and the points reset, ready for the next campaign. You earn points by gaining achievements and building-up experience – either through single-player or online games. You also gain points irrespective of which team you play as. So you’re not locked into being Bradford.
This opens up new ethical dilemmas for the 21st century football geek. Is it acceptable for a Leeds fan to accumulate points by playing as Man United? We need guidance?
EA say they have managed to balance the system so the bigger clubs don’t have an advantage through sheer weight of numbers. Hopefully this will prevent World of Warcraft style ‘farming’ from developing with Cambodian factories crammed full of kids harvesting points for Stevenage fans.
Another nifty thing about the Football Club mode is that they are going to use real-world events during the season to create challenges. Completing these will be another way to boost your team’s league position. It could be that Spurs hammer Arsenal and you’re asked to avenge the defeat or a more specific challenge – like recreating a victory from the position of being two down with 20 minutes left.
They are dedicating a team to come up with these reactive challenges so hopefully it will be more than just the occasional Premiership scenario. You could have some great lower-league challenges: Cardiff striker John Parkin is feeling tired after an Egg McMuffin binge – can you play for the first 60 minutes without him going anywhere near the ball?
If the Football Club mode takes off it could become dangerously addictive. You can imagine the call to arms going out on the various footy club message boards as the end of the week approaches. Apart from this new mode FIFA 12 will have all of the usual tweaks and updates you would expect. The most notable gameplay change is the introduction of a player impact engine. This uses physics and momentum to create a much more realistic ability to hoof players up into the stand.
FIFA 12 is released on September 30 by EA Sports
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