I cannot tell you how many times a day people come barging into my apartment. Whether it be lunch time, or 11 at night, I usually know what the reason is. "Let's play FIFA!" I'll hear someone scream from downstairs. The urgency of the call to simply play a video game is almost unavoidable.
Time after time, I've realized it's inescapable. FIFA isn't something you say no to. You have a big test tomorrow? You can study later. You're supposed to go out to eat with your girlfriend? Oh well, the Cellar will do. FIFA is a staple of college life for my friends and I, and (I hope) many others. It's a stress reliever, a social gathering and just a lot of fun.
So tonight, I come to you from Apartment 306, with the newly released FIFA 12 in hand. My roommate Jon and I will be playing a seven-game series; he is AC Milan and I am Bayern Munich. My intentions are to review the game for any potential buyers, to portray the intensity of FIFA to any non-gamers and to basically play video games as an excuse for a column. Here we go...
10:13 p.m. Taking an L early. 2-0 Jon. First and foremost, gameplay is pretty similar to 2011. It's not a drastically different game. To all the people who just try to hit the pass button over and over, your days are numbered. You've got to meticulously weight your passes and vary your attacks with long balls and through balls. Tackles are much weirder. If you go in for a 50-50 ball or even a clean tackle, the ball will pinball around and go in a unplanned location. Oh well. On to game 2.
10:30 p.m. FIFA's stupid. Down 2-0 in the series after a 2-1 loss. The same driven and finessed shots from 20 yards out that went in in FIFA 11 aren't happening. The one goal I scored, I had to weave through three guys with a forward and finish from six yards out. Of all the games played by the FIFA flock today, not one goal has been scored from outside the 18-yard box. One difference in buttons that has been handy so far is the use of the analog stick. With fast guys like Arjen Robben or Cristiano Ronaldo, the player can hit a big touch with the analog stick to burst by a defender, which is much more realistic. I got taken off the controller by a third party who will go by Jon #2 in the column. Now I've got some extra time to refocus and calm down...or punch a wall. We'll see.
10:59 p.m. The wall's looking pretty tempting right now. Another 2-1 loss to Jon. He's seemed to have figured out crosses. The key is swinging the ball in right at my defenders, because you know...they'll just whiff the ball or hit it right to his forwards on the six. That's pretty normal.
11:05 p.m. I decided to wait a few minutes before I actually gave an informative entry. Overall, I would say the game takes some time getting used to. I said the same things about not being able to score in FIFA 11 when I got it, so I'm sure everyone will adjust. It will frustrate players at first, but the goal of programmers each year is to make it more realistic, and they have succeeded in doing that. FIFA 12 isn't the best game ever, but it is an improvement on 11 and should be bought by any true fans.
11:22 p.m. It's right about now that I'm regretting writing this column. I should just make up some story about how I came back in a fit of FIFA glory and won the series 4-3. Unfortunately, I have got to tell the truth. This column isn't a Hollywood story, and dreams don't always come true. Jon mercy-ruled me by going up three goals, therefore ending the game early. I'm going to stop talking now and go eat the pain away.
11:45 p.m. Just got done playing Jon #2. 3-2 victory! I switched teams to Tottenham, and the resurgence of Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale on the wings has me feeling sprightly again. (All this FIFA has me talking like announcer Martin Tyler now.)
It's crazy to think that a whole night of time wasting, screaming at inanimate graphics on a screen for not defending, kicking my chair, not studying and trash talking can be salvaged with one win. But that's why we play. It gives us the sense of competition, failure and glory that real sports do. We may not actually be running around, and, in all likelihood, I may be in worse shape after all the Oreos eaten tonight, but it gives a resounding feel of real competition. Despite my ranting and whining, I hope the review has been helpful to any of you thinking about buying the game, or informative to anyone wondering about video game culture. Oh well, now on to that big Spanish test tomorrow.
11:51 p.m. Jon just challenged me to another seven game series. Well, adios Spanish grade. FIFA takes priority.