FIFA 22 represents the first time I’ve bought a game in the series since FIFA 20. I decided to step away from the series for a bit because I felt it was starting to get stale, and I was not remotely interested in the Ultimate Team loot box nonsense, which seems to be the only thing EA cares about when it comes to this series these days. However, with a birthday coming up and the lack of anything more substantial to ask for, I decided to request that my family pick up a copy of FIFA 22 for my PS4 to see if it could maybe rekindle my love for the series.
I should probably explain that I’m not the typical FIFA player, so what I look for in the series might be a bit different from what others do. I’ve been playing FIFA 22 almost exclusively offline, with Manager Career Mode being my main gameplay arena of choice. I haven’t even bothered with Volta Mode yet, and I probably won’t when all is said and done either. I did quite like The Journey Mode that the series had before they took it out, but aside from that, I tend to play a number of concurrent Career Mode saves where I jump between various teams.
It’s not that I have anything especially against online play, but I’ve just never enjoyed it in the FIFA series outside of the rare occasions where you could play the online mode where everyone takes control of a single player Libero Grande style and everyone actually took it seriously. A lot of the times with that though, I usually found that everyone would get bored and start messing around with the ball (almost always the goalkeeper), leading to the match just falling apart and any enjoyment I could gain from the mode dissipating quicker than the optimism I felt between Everton signing Antolin Alcaraz and me actually getting to see him play.
Ultimate Team has never interested me in the slightest, and my feelings towards it only intensified when EA really started to crank up the loot box nonsense, essentially encouraging players (including kids, who perhaps didn’t even understand what they were doing) to gamble away real money in an effort to get Messi and Ronaldo when they were dissatisfied with only getting Alexi Lalas and the human statue that is Asmir Begovic (seriously, I’ve seen more energy and joie de vivre from cement breeze blocks than from him most of the time). Even if we forget that such a practice is bordering on being morally abhorrent (especially when EA tried to re-brand the loot boxes as “Surprise Mechanics”, although it did give us one of James Stephanie Sterling’s best ever characters as a result), it also affected players like me personally without us even needing to play the mode in question because EA seemingly designed the entire game around it, leaving things like Career Mode as little more than an afterthought.
It’s almost comforting in a warped way that FIFA 22 seems to have kept that tradition alive, certainly from my experience on the PS4 version, anyway. Career Mode continues to feel like an afterthought, with plenty of weird happenings going on. I decided that seeing as Barcelona are going through a miserable season at the writing of this due to the managerial prowess (or lack thereof) of everyone’s favourite moon-faced weapon, Ronald Koeman, I would give old “RonKo” the boot and take the reins myself, even going so far as to turn off the first transfer window so I would be forced to use the same players that he also currently has at his disposal.
In real life Barcelona have all kinds of money problems and a less than vintage squad of players, but in the world of FIFA 22, they still have millions to spend, and their players can still manfully annihilate most of the lesser sides in La Liga with ease, even with the difficulty at an acceptable level. So much for realism, eh? It doesn’t help that the game world doesn’t actually follow what you are doing. For instance, going into the big Derby game with Espanyol, I was top of the table by about 5 points and doing quite well for myself. However, in the pre-match press conference, I was asked how I felt about being mid-table and losing most of my games, which was the exact opposite of what was happening.
Players would request to be sold, and when I agreed to that, they would then complain that I hadn’t renewed their contract, leading to a situation where I agreed a transfer fee to sell a player when the window opened in January, and the player then ended up with zero morale because I hadn’t offered them a new deal, even though I couldn’t at that stage because I’d agreed to sell him, which was what the player in question had wanted! The board also told me that I needed to sign three players from Europe but didn’t specify whether that meant a player that played in Europe or a player who was actually European themselves. This led me to have to trial and error my way through, causing me to end up signing four players rather than three because the first one I signed didn’t end up “counting”.
FIFA 22 is also plagued with slowdown in offline mode as well; at least it is on my PS4 version of the game. Why this would be the case when it hardly ever happened on FIFA 20 is beyond me, but more than once the game has slowed to a crawl, with it almost costing me a goal on a couple of occasions. Players of the next-gen releases might not experience these issues, but considering that getting one of the new consoles is still a major pain in the backside, I would feel it would behoove EA to actually make sure the previous gen versions of the game work properly, seeing as quite a lot of people will be forced to play them if they want their footy fix this year.
The overriding thought in my mind whilst playing FIFA 22 was to ask what I was actually getting out of it. It’s true that FIFA has mostly filled the role of “game I play to zone out whilst I have a podcast on in the background” these days, which FIFA 22 kind of works as, but it probably will end up getting switched out for something else even when it comes to that category in due course. I’m afraid I can’t say that FIFA 22 has rekindled my love for the series, and there’s a genuine chance that this might be the last current footy game I play in a while, especially as Konami decided to utterly bork PES in favour of whatever eFootball is supposed to be. Oh well, at least I still have Rocket League, eh?
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave