With the football season here in the UK drawing to a close, it seems that the sports coverage is reaching a fever pitch, as it tends to at the end of the season. Along with that we’ve just had this rather interesting FIFA 12 video leaked this week. Whilst I’m a pretty casual fan of football, I mean I like to watch games but I don’t pay much more attention than that, I’m not really a fan of football games at all. I’ll play FIFA, badly, if someone else is playing, but I don’t think I’ve owned anything I’d class as a sports game since FIFA ’98. I mean the only thing I do have is the SmackDown vs Raw series but that’s hardly a sports title.
I can hear some of you screaming that I’m hardly qualified to talk about sports games really, and that may be a fair criticism. However, I’m still going to and you can’t stop me. I mean I’ve already written this by the time you’re reading it, unless you can jump back in time about twenty hours, get to my house and beat me with a sock filled with batteries I’m going to keep going.[drop]I don’t really want to talk about the typical ‘developers need to stop yearly updates’. I honestly don’t think they’ll change the business model unless there’s suddenly a huge consumer revolt. Sure, roster updates via DLC or as cheap add-ons would probably work out better for gamers, but I think the developers are starting to make the new releases more than just a roster update now. I mean look at FIFA 10 to 11 and now to the leaked footage of 12. There’s obviously a clear lineage between the games but they seem to be piling in more and more features every year. Not every game is there yet, but I think things are starting to move in the right direction.
What I really want to see is a different career mode. I know games are, for the most part, escapism, but I’d love a sports game that starts you off at the lowest point. The TNA Impact! game was sort of like this, when you started out in career mode you weren’t actually wrestling in TNA. In fact I don’t know if I ever got up to TNA in the short period of time I had the game for, I was just wrestling in almost empty halls, with a few dozen people watching.
As far as I know there aren’t any sports games that start out like this. If you’re playing FIFA you don’t start out playing in an academy as a kid, slowly working your way forwards. If you’re sitting down to have a bash at Madden you don’t start off playing college football.
Of course something along these lines wouldn’t be for everyone, I can imagine quite a lot of people would hate having to wait for their character to become a star. I know you don’t start off as the key player for your club when you play through the FIFA career, but you don’t start off in the lower leagues, working your way upwards. That’s what I’d love to see, some real progression, decisions to be made about where you should go to move your playing career forwards. That’s something I could get behind, for me it’d just feel so much more involving.
That’s why I can take or leave sports games really, in the same way that I like playing fighting games but can easily not pick them up. There’s no real hook that draws me in. I know that’s not the point of those games, that they’re meant to be games you sit and play with your friends instead of being an engrossing single player experience. There’s nothing wrong with that pick up and play attitude to gaming, but adding something a bit deeper or meatier would be a nice move for the genre in my opinion. Maybe I just want everything in every game.