“FIFA 11” Challenges Gamers

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“FIFA 11” and its challenging game controls please hardcore “FIFA” gamers.

James Cullinane

"FIFA 11" and its challenging game controls please hardcore "FIFA" gamers.

By Billy Heanue

Class of 2011

In the world of sports –related videogames, few represent their respective sport as accurately as the FIFA soccer series.  In “FIFA 11” , Electronic Arts has tried valiantly to make the average couch potato feel as if they were actually in a European football star’s boots.  Sadly, they have tried too hard.

The game is just too difficult.  The average couch potato, with no prior “FIFA” experience, has a higher probability snapping his/her game disc in rage than actually scoring a goal.  In game, the computer difficulty can be obviously adjusted, but this offers little help when one is constantly either (a) shooting the soccer ball miles above the height of the net (due to holding the kick-button on the controller milliseconds too long), or (b) shooting the soccer ball straight at the goalkeeper’s chest.  And when one only receives one to two scoring opportunities per game, this is infuriating.

And then there are penalty kicks.  One may think that scoring from such a short distance (around 12 yards) would be a relatively easy endeavor.  The couch potato in question may think, “Hey, I feel like I can convert a penalty kick in real life.  Converting them in a videogame should be simple.”  This is false.

Penalty kicks take the cake in terms of EA taking a relatively simple game mechanic, trying to make it “more realistic” for their new and “improved” version of FIFA, and end up muddying the whole thing up nicely.  To convert a penalty kick in FIFA’s new offering, one must:

  1. Press a certain button on the controller at a specific time (to determine shot accuracy)
  2. Hold that certain button down for a given amount of time (roughly 1.2 seconds, to determine shot power)
  3. Direct the left-analog stick to the area where the penalty shot should go
  4. Hold the left analog stick in the specific direction the player wants the penalty shot to go (determines placement)

There are just too many things that could go wrong.  One could overcook the shot, resulting in the ball soaring high above the goal.  One could hold the analog stick for too long, resulting in an embarrassing “shank”. Even the batteries of the controller could run dry at such a crucial moment (yes, it has happened).

Despite appearing ridiculously hard to a newer player,”FIFA 11″ does reward those who pay it diligence.  The control scheme, albeit intricate, is indeed learnable.  And once these controls are mastered, “FIFA 11” rewards the player.  Handsomely.

Speaking from much experience involving multiplayer videogames, this writer can resolutely declare that there is no more satisfying experience in the realm of sport than scoring a goal on Xbox Live.  In a tight match, the feeling is euphoric.  Nothing can compare with the feeling of absolute, inter-personal domination when that spherical insult of a ball hits the back of the opposing player’s net.  Yet, the same is true for the reverse.  When scored upon, competitive players are overwhelmed with anger, self-pittance, or even depression (in the case of really competitive players).  On one side of the TV is joy; on the other is remorse.

That being said, the emotional highs and lows that FIFA 11 produces are startling.  Very few videogames can incur such extreme feelings.  However, like all videogames with such a steep learning curve, it is up to the player to decide whether to actually learn the game, or send it hurtling towards a concrete wall.