Football fans who bloody love their gaming will remember a time when 99% of the world played FIFA on their respective platforms, whilst a meagre 1% played its competitor, Pro Evolution Soccer.
Well, that 1% was yours truly. Right up until it’s untimely (apparent) demise, I was always a PES fan, stemming back from the glory days of International Superstar Soccer on the N64.
That has to be put in context because it means that, if you can believe it, I played this latest instalment of the “FIFA” series, EA Sports FC24, as pretty much a newbie to the franchise. All these years later.
In a past life I once chatted with the head of Big Ant studios, who told me that EA spend more on their title screen for the FIFA franchise that what Big Ant do for building an ENTIRE game. And it shows, from the moment you boot this baby up.
You’d think that a game about the “beautiful game” would be mostly about the actual gameplay, and you’d be right, but in this day and age of high end TV production and the like, it’s an important point. This game presents like a TV broadcast, which helps with the fantasy we all harbour when we boot up a sports game.
So, the first impressions are good, but what’s the gameplay like? Well I’m glad you asked, because it’s typically fantastic. Very smooth, intuitive and easy to pick up. Of course, you can customise which button does what (helpful for a lifelong PES player), but I feel like you don’t really need to, particularly if you grew up playing FIFA.
Now, bear in mind that I play a very simple brand of “gaming soccer”. Push it to the wings, through ball to my super-quick striker, take the shot. That’s it. I’ve never bothered with special moves and the like, but they’re all there for the purist. Again, no surprises there. And, it must be said, the method in which they “train” you to learn new moves is pretty good. Objective based, scenario type situations where you have a certain amount of time to achieve set objective. I even learnt I could do a power shot, right in my wheelhouse.
Additionally, I did really enjoy the development in set kicks and penalty kicks. Corner kicks utilise a “two arrow” type system, one factoring height and one factoring direction, which allowed for more creative crosses to my forwards. I really enjoyed that. The penalty kicks rely on a timing situation where the worse your timing is, the worse the shot will be. Having done both (as the kicker and the goalie), the taking of the kick is really good. the saving, not so much. It’s not really clear on how and when you should pick your direction to go as the goalie. But that’s a minor gripe.
I’ll admit, I’ve spent most of my time in Ultimate Team. Which is really fun, despite my annoyance with the whole “player card” system. I get that it would be that much more appealing to someone who’s truly into their football (I’m not, necessarily), so I found the whole trading of cards and the like just another factor to deal with.
That said, craving my beloved “Master League” from the PES days, I spent some time in the “manager” mode of this game and by jeepers, after 30 minutes of scrolling through notices and reading in-game emails and the like, I gave up. Too much time spent for not enough action (the irony of playing a game and then dealing with crap life situations like reading in-game emails is not lost on me).
All in all – I’m really enjoying playing this game. As always, it’s a great game to turn to when you just want to kill and hour here or there. This would no doubt be amazing again as a couch co-op or playing against a mate situation, I just couldn’t find a mate to play with in time.
I’ll wrap this all up with five random points about EA Sports FC24 that I reckon make (or can potentially break) this game for fans of the genre.
- I don’t know if this is a new thing, but the scene cut to a first person view of the ref as he gives a card… genius! Really adds to the game and the “broadcast” feel of the whole thing. I’ve said this publicly before though, EA miss an absolute opportunity to give their refs some “personality”. Why not have a randomise option on the refs as you play each game, which could potentially adjust how you play the game? For example, if you get a ref assigned to your game who’s “whistle happy”, you’d think twice about repeatedly slide tackling, right? That would add so much to the game (this idea inspired by a very old game on the Amiga 500 called Kick Off 2 – a masterpiece).
- They made a big deal about it in game – but once again, I found myself wasting time trying to pick a home and away kit that DIDN’T clash on-screen. The automated assignment of kits quite often clash, and that’s annoying. Same deal goes for the ref and the opposition’s goalie kit. Can be very confusing.
- The “camera shake” and crowd reacts when a goal is kicked, amazing. The crowd in particular, it feels like they react at the right times in the game. It’s not your scenario out of, say, the PGA 2K series, where the crowd just claps incessantly. This adds SO MUCH to the game, a realistic crowd feature. After all, we’re all Ronaldo wannabes in a game like this, right?
- The commentary is great and a big upgrade on pervious versions I’ve played. I like how, in this game, you actually get different commentators for different games, each with their own certain style. What I don’t understand though, as this is a bugbear of mine… Why don’t they get the commentator, when in the recording studio, to record 100 different ways of saying a phrase, and then randomise it? Audio files are so small and easy to manage, and to have a different commentary come up as I do something, again, adds to the realness of the game, I reckon. I’ll give you some examples.
“Great pass that”
“What a super pass”
“He passes it”
“ooh, what a pass”
“That pass, sublime”
- I was pleasantly surprised by the online component of playing this game. Due to historically having poor internet at home, I’ve avoided playing games like this online. It just doesn’t work. Well, didn’t work. Although I got pantsed, the online game I played was smooth and worked well. Hoo-bloody-ray!
To conclude – I reckon this game is worth the spend, particularly if you’re new to the franchise OR you haven’t got a new one in a while. Top notch EA!
(PS: EA Sports – please include a patch in the near future where the goal scorer DOESN’T kick the ball madly into the net after scoring EVERY BLOODY TIME! It gets tired pretty quickly.)