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Why winning at FIFA 12 disgusted me so much I'll never play it again

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.

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130 comments

  • JHBorden - January 30, 2012 8:19 a.m.

    Dragin Age 2 for me on steam it says 45 minutes in game...45 minutes I wish I could have back doing something better like picking my nose or smoking a joint or something.The game I could not put down would be my GOTY The Witcher 2.But technicaly it could win 360 GOTY it is getting a console release in 2012. :)
  • hellison - January 30, 2012 5:31 p.m.

    Couldn't say better. Dragon Age 2 was a major disapointment for me, as I'm a huge fan of the Origins. Witcher 2 is better in every way and is totally awesome
  • MidianGTX - January 30, 2012 8:21 a.m.

    I've only played the demo for FIFA 12, but I figured I'd join in with the hate for Bejeweled 2. It's not really a game at all is it? It's the virtual equivalent of asking a baby "which block is the green one?" combined with the unforgiving bad luck of Vegas. People who play it are only "gamers" in the same way that people doing a crossword or Sudoku are gamers: not very much at all. Beyond Facebook and people who are sat at work getting increasingly bored during lunch hour, the game has no need for existing.
  • Mezolitik - January 30, 2012 8:31 a.m.

    I've had Football Manager for about 12 hours, and I think I've lost 8 out of 10 games, so far. I'm repeatedly losing 4-0 to the youth team of the reserve team of some hovel in darkest Croatia. I get out of the pre-season with four losses, and then get walloped 6-0 by Ajax on the opening day. So, yeah, if I lose to Stalinist 74 Zogblob again, FM12 is going on my 'never play again' list.
  • KungFoo - January 30, 2012 8:43 a.m.

    FM 2005 - First leg of the Championship playoff and I win 6-1 at home to Sheff Wed. The return leg set up defensively with a rock solid back 4 and defensive mid only to lose 6-1 on the night. Fortunately I went through on penalties but the game had some insanely crazy moments
  • Chong03 - January 30, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    You don't expect to be good at the best manager simulator in half a day do you? Hhahahahaha...This doesn't mean that the game sucks...Its that YOU suck...Ive had 3 seasons with united and ive won everything + 80 mil to spend(on gotze) because I know who to buy for how much and how to play against teams...I beat Barca twice so far with no quit games.
  • Mezolitik - January 30, 2012 9:11 a.m.

    Naw, I've played a few of the earlier FMs, so I have a vague idea of what I'm supposed to be doing. I always play as little teams, so I'm used to getting flattened occasionally, just not against school teams from Finland. I might play a season with Madrid, or something, just until I get used to everything. Having a £250k transfer budget is a pain in the arse.
  • bebl09 - January 30, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    Wow, winning everything with Man United (presumably that's who you mean), what an achievement lol. Granted they're not the world's best team but they're one of the best, and you get a massive transfer budget with them so it's not exactly a challenge. I came 4th in the Premier League with Newcastle in my first season on FM11, when I was predicted 17th by the media cause I made good signings and got my tactics right, and beat Barca in the 2nd round of the Champions' League the next season. Six seasons in and I'm now ranked the number 1 team in Europe, having signed the likes of Pastore and Adler on free signings. Again that's not a massive achievement like getting a non-league team to Champions League winners, but it's harder than Man United lol.
  • philiphorton - January 30, 2012 8:34 a.m.

    But is it unrealistic Justin? Would you have attempted a half volley from Rooney in anything other than the dying seconds of a match when you have nothing to lose? Also, the closer you are to the whistle in each half, the more likely you are to score... http://postimage.org/image/91dfdgirt/ Just sayin....
  • minimaxi - January 30, 2012 8:42 a.m.

    after dying over and over and over and over again in the underwater level in Donald Duck In Maui Mallard for genesis. my childhood self just said 'that's it'. it's never being touched again until months later when a magazine printed the complete passwords (it was an internet-less era in my country pretty much) I even remember the password 'yohoho' because that's what I did everyday, input that password and fail. did it make it to your worst water level list?
  • MasterBhater - January 30, 2012 8:45 a.m.

    The first game I actually gave up on-no going back-was Modern Warfare 3. I had already refused to buy it, but by pure luck my dad had bought it for me on launch day. I played it for about a week, but I just couldn't handle the terrible map design, the terrible graphics, the repetitive, grinding gameplay. And the campaign, OH, the campaign. The Michael Bay movie of gaming that was. Just to make sure I'd never play it again I sold it for 40 bucks.
  • Chong03 - January 30, 2012 8:46 a.m.

    Me and this friend of mine have an undisputed tittle...every time we meet, its 3 games...one with most wins takes the belt...I have to say...This game is cheeky and scabby as fuck...Counter Attack's on the 45th min and they call time before it can play out every time? Hand Ball's given in the pentaly box and outside because of glitchy "realism" setting(I turned on hand balls so REAL penalty/free kicks are given, not so when I run on the ball i get a hand ball EVERYTIME), rebound goals, and last but definately not least...If you tap B the goalie's AI gets confused and u will most probably score everytime. Oh yea! Also, fuck everyone who uses barcelona...You have 3 90's+ and Messi and you think i care to even try beat you? Yea right. That's why I don't play online, and rather limit the scabbyness as much as possible.( B shot frowned upon, so is the run to side of goal pass(crosses made harder so their ok) to middle, and the rebound goal is called the "kyle goal" in honour of my mate) Overall,I gotta say that this is one of my fav. sports games of ALL time...Tackling someone just before they shoot 1-1 with the goalie or dribbling past someone and then scoring a curling goal in the corner, or any 80+ mins. goal or even a smash with someone you didn't even think could score make this game almost as great as the real sport!(PS. WORLD CLASS is UNFAIR! They get EVERY header, every rebound, every loose ball and can come back from any score...they came back from 3-0 and 4-0:( )
  • Jcookie11 - January 30, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    I've always had a suspicion about the momentum thing because i found making defenders pass it around, although really boring seems to make the attacking Midfielders & Strikers play much better. and nice to find somebody with the same opinion, Justin XD
  • Pooka - January 30, 2012 9:09 a.m.

    The biggest rage quit moment of gaming for me was Evergrace for the PS2. My friend had bought it because it looked like a different style of action RPG. It was really fun... For about the first 2 hours. After that you got to a laboratory, and if you hadn't upgraded a few certain pieces of armor/weapon from early in the game then you lacked the special skills needed to proceed. Did I mention that everything was sellable, or able to broken down into materials to upgrade stuff? Needless to say, the early things you needed had long been sold/broken down, thereby completely stranding you in the game unless you restarted from the beginning. My friend and I looked at each when we realized what had happened, opened the disc tray without a word, took the game and put it back in the case, then proceeded to wrap the entirety of a whole roll of duct tape around the box until it was sealed up, then buried it in his backyard. It's probably still there if I were to go look... *shudder*
  • sternparez - January 30, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    yeh I've always suspected a motivation system in FIFA as well, especially online, although in my case nothing seems to go for me in the first and last ten minutes! I usually dominate the rest of the game but by that time I could be 2-3 down. My biggest gripe is that way you have to try and keep control of your centre backs while defending to stop them playing the opposition through on goal by making Lucio-style runs into midfield only without the ball
  • FoxdenRacing - January 30, 2012 9:32 a.m.

    Rubber-banding AI, the bane of my digital existence. I understand the appeal, and wholeheartedly support the logic behind it...that the AI is supposed to be a foil, not perfect, but today's games have taken it too far; they seem to be absolutely horrified of letting the player fail. Gamemakers reading this, allow me to share something. If I 'die' playing a game, that doesn't mean I'm automatically going to sell my copy and never play another game by that developer, publisher, or any member of its team ever again. I don't walk away from a game due to personal failures, consequences of my own poorly-executed plans or lacking skills. I do walk away from a game that's poorly made...and blatantly obvious, rubber-banding AI is a sign of a poorly-made game. If it does it at all, it needs to be absolutely invisible...and very few games actually need such a thing. Most can make due with multiple difficulty settings, or in the case of something like Forza 4, making minor adjustments between events. It is possible for the AI to be my foil, and to also beat me. Making it a foil means making it imperfect, with faults and flaws and strengths quirks and such...not inept and merciful, suddenly forgetting which end of the gun to point at me because my health's dropped below a certain threshold, or becoming perfect cold-blooded killers because my health's too high for the upcoming set-piece. As long as the difficulty levels and skill requirement progression are properly laid out, we gamers are smart enough to control our own destinies. If we fail but realize it's our own fault, if we fail but see another path to try, we'll try again. And if we just can't improve enough no matter how hard we try, we'll turn the difficulty down a notch. Case in point: Super Meat Boy. Not once did I get the impression that the game was holding my hand or out to get me or shoddily made...every mistake, every Meat Boy turned Ground Meat Boy I had an idea of what I did wrong, knew that if I polished my skills I'd get through. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Now that the rambling about game design theory is out of the way: If not for being a stubborn, proud prat I never would've finished any of the NFS games made between Underground and Most Wanted, let alone all of them...I can't remember seeing any AI band more blatantly than that series' one does. Two of the three I've snapped at most recently are ones I feel guilty about, as neither game is poorly made, just not polished any more than their budgets allowed: Blood Bowl and Operation Darkness. One has an RNG that gives every indication it's stacked in the AI's favor [four dice all coming up "You're screwed, mate" is a 1 in 1296 chance...yet I've had it happen multiple times in a single game], the other is just very bad at communicating to the player what they're supposed to do. I know there's something I'm supposed to be doing differently in OD, but have no idea what that different something is, and the game's not giving me any indication what I'm doing wrong. The third is CnC3, which continues my frustrations from CnC:RA2:YR. Missions designed with what strikes me as a 'one way to win' mentality...not so much putting me in control of a dynamic, raging battle, and more walking me through the motions of a semi-interactive movie. Thankfully CnC3's story thus far has more effort put into it than YR's did, as that simply repeated the same Mad Lib over and over, with no effort whatsoever made to tie the events into a cohesive metaplot. "Gasp! Yuri is in [city] using [new unit/building] for [nefarious justification for that unit's existence]! Watch [this custcene] that explains [unit/building]'s strengths/weaknesses/counter-tactics. Use this [multiplayer faction's unique unit] and follow [painfully granular step by step instructions] to stop him!" Anyway...I've ranted enough. You're right Justin, it is cathartic to get that off my chest.
  • GR_JustinTowell - January 30, 2012 9:52 a.m.

    Told you so, mate. And completely agree on the rubber banding :)
  • wingsdjy - January 30, 2012 9:47 a.m.

    Top Spin 2 for me. Made it to a Grand Slam finals in the 2nd season of my pro, but couldn't deal with the suddenly brutal AI. I suppose I could just finish losing the match and level up my character for another run in season 3, but it's been years now so the likelihood of that happening now is nil.
  • Money - January 30, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    One thing I hate about Fifa 12, lob through passes, impossible to stop, defenders are slow, I start getting annoyed, 8-6 to them. Seems like a rugby score.
  • darkrider105 - January 30, 2012 10:17 a.m.

    Nice article Justin, I have to admit that your grievances like the 45th, 90th minute goals, and the failed clearances are totally trued and god damn annoying. I still play FIFA and every year there seems to be some new bullshit that you have to deal with. I wonder why i buy it every year but it good that it's something that annoy someone besides me. Also I used to do the 90th minute goal against my friend all the time, he rages every time that I did it.

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