Pause, quit, eject, snap, burn, bury. That's how it goes. Why? Because there comes a point in every gamer's life when you simply have enough of a game's bull****. I personally arrived at such a conclusion last night with FIFA 12 and thought I'd share it with you because I know I'm not alone.
But before we kick off, FIFA 12's not the only game on my 'never again, ever' list. There's also Bejeweled 2 and Gran Turismo 5. Bejeweled 2 for the realisation that no matter how good I got, my success was based purely on luck and not how well I was playing. And Gran Turismo 5 for making me level grind the Daytona Speedway for 45 minutes because that was the shortest method of unlocking the final tier. That is not gaming and I have no time for it.
Above: The rogues' gallery. All of these games have one thing in common...
So what went wrong in FIFA? Well, it was all going so well. I've been playing Head to Head Seasons, which is a fantastic idea for a multiplayer mode and every football game should have it.
It works like this: You start off in the bottom division, then you play head to head against other players around the world who have a similar star level. It doesn't matter where they are in their season – the game is only recording wins and losses. So a make-or-break final game in my season could be my opponent's opening match in their campaign. Simple, easy and it works.
Sounds like I love it, right?
Love is a strong word, but yes, I was well into it. So much so, I could even put up with a lot of the hassle that online gaming brings. The rage quitters are fine – as long as the game records it as a win for me (which it doesn't always do in FIFA, sadly). I can even put up with the idiots who get two goals up and then deliberately use every second of allowed time before taking a throw-in, kick-off or free kick.
But what really gets to me are the 'stingers'. The game seems to love 45-minute goals and 90-minute goals. You can see it cooking it up - easy passes go awry, interceptions occur much more frequently, keepers spill simple catches and defenders labour on the ball, just begging to have it snatched away for an easy goal.
Above: Don't worry, fellas - it works both ways. Get it up the other end and you're likely to score
Ironically, the penultimate game I played last saw this happen in my favour. I'd conceded some 8 goals in ten minutes of real time prior to this match, but I'd finally got myself together and had a chance of staying in the 6th division. All I had to do was win the last two games.
Having battled through much of the game with 10 men, I conceded a goal in the 90th minute to go 2-1 down. I was so angry. Yet another 90-minute stinger, and one that would surely relegate me to division 7 again. But then something amazing happened. Already in injury time, I scored an unlikely equaliser.
Laughing maniacally at my opponent (not over voice chat – that would be harsh), I didn't run to get the ball out of the net. To be honest, I was happy with the draw. Rooney 'did the robot' and I watched the replay all the way through. That's good enough for me – a moral victory. There was no time left anyway - all the other guy had to do was boot it down field and the whistle would blow. But he didn't - he tried to dribble around my entire team... but he'd forgotten about one thing: The game had turned.
Above: Momentum meters used to be visible in EA games. Is there a hidden one in FIFA 12?
Everything fell for me. His players' movements were laboured. It was all he could do to slide in clumsily and give away a free-kick on the edge of the area, just off-centre to the right. Better still, he got a red card for it. It was a collapse of monumental proportions, slipping away like the last three minutes of Bayern Munich's Champions League campaign in 1999. Hehehe...
Rooney stood over the ball, but he wasn't the man for the job. I paused the game and subbed in Ryan Giggs (left-foot, in-swinger). By this point, we were in 'mystery time'. We'd had two goals, celebrations, replays, a red card and now a substitution since the clock hit 90, yet it was still going to let me take the free kick.
Said free kick was actually crap. It hit the wall, bouncing back out to Rooney, who met it on the half volley and looped it over the keeper and in. GOAL!!! It was magnificent. But totally, totally unrealistic. There was no extra skill involved here, it was like the game was going to carry on until I won.
Above: It really was proper Man Utd-style stoppage time
I was, of course, very pleased with myself. But at the same time, I knew that it wasn't anything to do with my skill. The game seemed to have manufactured that result. Time had been up ages ago. It was at that moment I vowed that if I lost the final game (putting me down a division), I wouldn't play it any more. Online FIFA has been taking up an increasing amount of my free time and I value my time too much for an experience to be defined by this sort of thing. I lost, 3-0.
And so the game was quit, the tray opened, the game taken out and... placed in its box. I didn't snap it, but relegating it to the shelf is just as bad. It's not coming out again. No more low crosses to annoy me, no more flailing auto-clearance attempts that pull my last defender up without me pressing anything. And no more dodgy goals on 45 minutes and 90-minutes. I've had enough. I am free.
So that was the breaking point for me. But I know I'm not alone and FIFA's not the only game that can make someone snap. So tell me: what made you vow never to play a game ever again? Let it all out in the comments. Trust me - you'll feel better.