FIFA 12 – Three (less obvious) Improvements

Much is said of FIFA 12′s new ‘Impact’ gameplay engine and how the player will be able to execute a variety of tackling styles etc.  But first, we want some improvements to the technical side of the game – like menus!

Ye Olde Menu

The FIFA series has had pretty much the same menu screen for the last four games.  Whereas it does the job, our eyes are bored of the bland titles, our ears are bored of the obscure music and do not get us started on the stupid dotty-circle-loading icon! I know it’s a tedious task but change it up EA Sports, give the job to an intern or something.

The arena feature is unique to the EA Sports brand and is used in a number of their different sports games – it’s genius.  However, I can remember a certain FIFA World Cup 2006 having a much better arena screen, which allowed a multiplayer kickabout as the game loads.  Why was this ever taken away from us and substituted with some dodgy striker vs. goalie mini-game?

Let it snow…actually – don’t!

The FIFA series is famous for its realism – genuine kits, sponsors, commentary, terrace chants, emblems etc, but when it comes to the weather system, is it really worth it?  Despite what Andy Gray says in the repetitive commentary (another area for improvement), nobody in the world LOVES playing football in the snow and there’s certainly nobody who likes playing in the snow on a video game.

All too often the player finds themselves squinting after a white ball, which is being passed about by Real Madrid wearing their sheet-white home kit in the snow.  Just get rid of the snow.  Snowbody is going to miss it – sorry, that was embarrassing.

Introducing the End of the Introduction Scenes

There’s no denying FIFA’s excellent gameplay, albeit with a few annoyances.  Every match has the potential to contain a certain pass or skill move you may never have seen before, every shot from the halfway line has that slight percentage of creeping under the bar and that’s what we play these games all year round for.  Sadly, the same cannot be said for the pre-match intro scenes.

We’ve all seen these jittery surrogates shake hands a million times, we’ve seen the virtual referee ‘warm-up’ over and over again – there’s nothing that EA Sports can do to make the intro scenes better, other than to remove them altogether and spare players the misery of waiting those extra 40 seconds before kicking-off.  There’s nothing worse than starting another online game to redeem yourself after a loss and being forced to watch a glitchy ceremony, as you hopelessly smack the controller to somehow skip the scene .

Full Time

There’s a whole host of subtle problems with FIFA 11 (random online points system, Extra Time Only? The inability to change shorts/socks colour, annoying substitution animations, manic goalkeeper behaviour, the nest of cooperative gameplay bugs and so on…) but we all still play it religiously.  We’re not slagging off EA Sports here, we are merely shining a light in the shadows created by positive reviews of enhanced gameplay and Ultimate Team game modes. We love FIFA, we just want to love it a bit more!

See this post on The Sport Report with accompanying video.

Balotelli Botches Spin Goal

Our favourite Muppet of the 2010/2011 season is back for another year of mischief already.  Mario Balotelli performs some sort of half-pirouette and back-heels the ball out of play, instead of finding the LA Galaxy net with a simple tap in, during last night’s game in the States…

Oh how we’ve been struggling for Muppet content since the end of the football season.  Now it’s back and with it comes misguided Mario and his expertise in idiocy.

The Italian was named Muppet of the Week three times last season, which is a record on The Sport Report.  First he had trouble with a grass allergy, then he couldn’t quite slip into a warm-up bib before ending the season with at least £10,000 in parking fines – he’s a satirical sports news website’s dream!

It was suggested we have a separate page on the site completely dedicated to Balotelli, as Muppet of the Week doesn’t have the capacity to catalogue all of his ‘episodes’.  Sadly, we can’t allow this feature to happen because next thing we know, everybody will want a dedicated page – Tiger’s Secrets of the Woods, Wayne Rooney’s Elocution Lessons, At Home with The Giggs’ – you get the idea.

Mario Balotelli will grace the premier league with his unique talent this season and he will equally grace the internet with his ever-promising-to-go-viral behaviour.

Last night’s shameful showboating (see video here) is just the beginning and we can expect to see the striker cause so much stress for Roberto Mancini, that the manager will have no choice but to up the dosage on his Just For Men.  To be fair to Mancini, he dragged Balotelli off immediately after his lazy trick shot last night.

Balo reacted rather well I thought (by his own standards), he sulked for a while and finally through his bocky-bock to the floor – Mancini’s new assistant coach, Jo Frost a.k.a. ‘Super Nanny’, is obviously paying dividends.

Place your hypothetical bets in the forum below on how many times you think Balotelli will claim The Muppet of the Week award this upcoming season…

One to Watch: LA Galaxy v Real Madrid

It’s like you’ve selected the ‘Randomise Team’ option on FIFA 11, except it’s really happening! Real Madrid take on LA Galaxy and a certain David Beckham in a pre-season friendly this weekend…

The two teams had a sparring session last year but Beckham missed out due to an achilles injury.  This time he’s fully fit and eagerly anticipating the match, especially after scoring directly from a corner-kick against Chicago just last weekend.

His former side, Real Madrid, will be looking to sharpen their claws by picking away at the Los Angeles outfit, in preparation for what promises to be another hotly contested La Liga.   With Barcelona at the helm, Madrid need all the preparation they can get to reclaim the Spanish crown.

Some may see the friendly as a bit of a holiday-game but the Beckham factor could create a little bit of competition amongst the players. The former United star has expressed his feelings for the Spanish giants saying:

“I spent four amazing years at Real Madrid. To go from a club like Manchester United to Real Madrid, it really doesn’t get much better than that in football. I’ve got many friends still there, many friends as players and fans and throughout the club as well.”

Beckham has forever been in the public eye and the media hang on to his every word but he appeared very chilled out on the Late Show with Craig Ferguson (see video below) just last month. Still, it annoys me to hear the former England captain refer to football as ‘soccer’ – it makes me feel cheated, like Stacy Giggs, Abbey Clancy, Coleen Rooney and every other WAG who knows perfectly well what they’re getting into (apologies, I got a little carried away there)!

Speaking of WAGs, Posh and Becks have just welcomed their newborn daughter into the world and have come under some harsh criticism for naming her ‘Harper Seven’.  I think it’s a lovely name and a great way to pay tribute to Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman for what was a classic detective picture from the ’90s.

As for the game tomorrow – it is not going to be broadcast live on British television but can probably be found on a number of illegitimate websites which I would know nothing about or condone in any way.

Kick off…

LA Time: 7.00pm Saturday 16th July
UK Time: 2.00am Sunday 17th July

I’m fully aware that this is perhaps the most awkward selection for ‘One to Watch’ ever but there’s really not much else on!