After a week of playing the game, i’m ready to give my impressions on the demo.
I’ll break the impressions down into key areas before summarising on the game as a whole.
I think we have a big issue with this whole assisted passing meter. It’s divided many people on it’s function and usefulness, as well as when/where it should be used.
In a nutshell, I firmly believe the passing assistance system is broken. When you stick assistance to zero, and try to pass around, the results are not predictable. There is way too much automation and hand holding going on.
I’ve said this before – manual control should mean you have an edge over players with assistance.
Where’s the reward system for mastering manual passing? Right now there’s no incentive to try to master it (in principle) since it’s not working, and it gives no advantage over assistance.
Perhaps player stats come into play even when using manual pass, which would complicate matters – but I think we’re due some sort of explanation on the system as such.
Looking beyond this flaw, the actual passing is still fairly decent – it’s certainly not a game breaker.
R2 Control when passing
Again I think perhaps I’m being a little idealistic, but I was really hoping the new R2 ball control option would have required timing to perfect. Perhaps with assistance trapping a ball would be easier, but on manual control I’d have expected to have to time the trapping of a ball. How fantastic would it be to see a player not trap a ball tightly, and result in having to further battle for the ball? I see this as a missed opportunity to really shake fifa to it’s core in gameplay terms. How you initially control a ball is a major part of the game that is just crying out to be exploited in football games.
It’s good to see the R2 control of a ball being refined from last year, and allowing tighter control when on the ball.
The one negative about it I would say is that now all players seem to possess the same skill set when prancing about with the ball, which you don’t have in reality. There aren’t many players who can dance with a ball in tight pressurised situations, so that’s something perhaps the new Player ID system should exploit more.
Shooting feels great. The weight on shots feels really good now. It’s possibly to crack them in from range, and they feel satisfying. Until you realise that you can do it with most players. You can get some really accomplished finishing from defenders which would turn strikers green with envy. Whilst you’re initially happy with the shooting, I have to say it needs a little dumbing down. Additionally, you can crack in shots whilst under pressure from one or more opponents whilst you’re running at goal.
This used to result in weaker and/or mis-placed shots, but now there’s no bearing on your ability to score as such.
I think this element needs a little tweaking – as it may then result in less shots making it on target.
I haven’t managed too much time with the manual shooting, but it definitely gives us what we want and is a very welcome addition.
I think they have improved in some areas – such as some of their diving animations, and the way they can tip the ball over.
They’re generally a little quicker to instigate counter-attacks, but we still don’t have anywhere near the level of control over their actions that we should. Why can’t we choose whether to throw a ball out under or over arm? If I choose to throw it under arm and get the ball intercepted – that should be a mistake I have to live with. Plus the animation for throwing the ball out is way too floaty. The strength meter for the throw is unreliable, as with passing, and can result in the ball going much shorter than expected. A personal bug bear with goalkeepers for me is when they have the ball in their hands, and you want them to put it on the deck and play it out. Firstly there’s still no sense of urgency with keepers. You can’t start running with the ball in your hands, and have the ball thrown in front of you ready to hoof it or whatever. Secondly when you do throw it, the animation is very slow and helps to kill any brewing moves, rather than build on them.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the occasional random cut-scene to a player shouting prior to a “dynamic” thrown-in which kicks in with players more or less where they were when the ball went out stinks. Why can’t we have proper dynamic throw ins during real time play? The nearest player to where the ball went out should have the ball thrown to them automatically – they don’t even need to have a ball boy throw it to the player – just let it appear in their hands ready to take – we don’t really care!
It would really open up the game play.
Same gripe really. Allowing us to choose when to take quick free kicks should be the norm. Unless it’s in a prime goal scoring position and the ref wants us to wait for him to blow the whistle.
I’m going to refrain from going in hard on refs – I’m assuming that they were not the focus for the demo, and will not be so casual with their decision making skills.
Despite some of my complaints above, the game is shaping up very nicely indeed. I’m finding in games where I don’t defend properly I’m getting punished. You have got to concentrate. Equally it’s very satisfying when you open up a team by having overlapping players (through just the game’s AI) to create space for crosses or shots.
The ability to nutmeg players or just knock the ball on past them to run around them could be the move that potentially spoils the game. It’s fairly easy to pull off, and so means you’ve got to defend against it better to avoid getting beaten every time. Hopefully it’s not going to be an easy exploit for this year’s game. It’s not something many players have the acceleration to pull off in real terms, which needs to be reflected in the game.
The R2 finesse function does make the game more accessible for lesser skilled players of the game. That may be seen as a good thing to encourage more people into the game. Whether veterans of the game who practised these moves agree with it, remains to be seen. The fact that you’ll have average midfielders dancing on the ball in pretty little turns may grate with some. But as I said earlier, I hope Player ID really does affect this ability which should see it moderated in use.
I’d have liked to have seen customisable camera angles in the game, which I don’t think we’ll see in this iteration, but other than that, I think we have a great looking title on our hands.
The make or break element of the game for me will be the online system, and especially how cheating is moderated and dealt with.
If Konami show they are willing to be heavy-handed but fair with cheats, I think it will send out the right message and have many more of us returning to online play.
Bring it on.
***** UPDATE ******
Completely forgot to mention – the game is still on rails. When you’re in control of a player, it should mean exactly that.
Try passing to a player and then moving the player you’re controlling – it just won’t happen. They remain fixed on the same plane as the ball to arrive at them. If we had total control over the player movement, we’d be able to move as we liked, and then used the R2 finesse control to receive the ball at any angle we chose. That would really open up the control system and give us a proper game to play with.
Thanks for reading.