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FIFA and Pro Evo change it up again; this time with control schemes

Written by on Saturday, 30 July 20114 Comments

The big news coming out of this weekend from both EA and Konami relates to control schemes. Specifically, both teams have pulled aces from their sleeves and revealed changes that will undoubtedly set them further apart from each other than ever before. But enough hyperbole… here’s the skinny.

Ultimate Player Control

Remember 2004? The year when FIFA went a bit RTS – promising a control scheme that would revolutionise the genre, allowing you to control exactly who to pass the ball to and move that second player with free will? It’s back… but not where you’d think. Konami have opted to put this feature in the new PES, though admittedly with a number of caveats. It seems as though you will not be able to select a specific player; instead the player in the best position will be selected upon pressing R3 – it is entirely possible that by pressing the button multiple times you can select other players, though this has not been confirmed.

A flick of the right stick will send that player wherever you want him to go. Want to replicate the joy of the perfect through ball and matched run when in two-player? Now (with a bit of practice) you can do that on your own… over-the-top through balls will now rely on specific player skill rather than blithe luck. My particular favourite thing about this is the ability to control your own dummy runs – one of my favourite tactics in PES is to initiate a 1-2 just to see the CPU running after my second man… only to not return the pass and run into the empty space myself! This is now possible and it’s going to really change the game.

But only if they do it right. Let’s face it – FIFA 2004 was a mistake, as evidenced by the core game mechanic being hidden away in the following release, then quietly shelved for good as the series went on. There are many reasons why this might have been (the emergence of PES as a realistic alternative for example) but few would argue that this was a step forward for the franchise. If you ask me, the reason for this is simply that it was a core mechanic – THE core mechanic. In short, if you didn’t use the selective passing system of FIFA 2004, you didn’t win FIFA 2004. You lost. You lost hard.

The problem lies in multiplayer – it doesn’t matter if you have FIFA or if you have PES. Sure, certain control elements are different, but the core gameplay is the same. Switch the control scheme up (Square for shoot, Circle for pass) and away you go. No issue. But suddenly when you have to describe to a friend how to play… it’s not as fun. Especially because, when using this new control method, you’re so much better at the game than he is. In a way it can build brand loyalty… but if you ask me, it was exactly this type of funny business that made fans want away from FIFA and join the Pro Evo crowd. It was certainly what made me defect, all those years ago…

How about the same, but different? That’s what we always used to get, year on year. The same controls, just slightly different. I liked it that way. Everyone knew where they were at. But i’m destined to be unhappy, because FIFA are making changes too…

It’s all Changed.

Remember the ‘X’ button? The one that you mash with your thumb the moment you lose possession? Forget it. In fact, while you’re at it, forget hitting Square to call over another defender, too. We don’t do that anymore. In FIFA 12, holding down X will get you a few feet away from the attacker, then you’ll stop as your player awaits another command. This is tactical defending, folks. Because, tactically, you don’t want to be actually getting the ball. Instead it’s all about stopping the attacker from doing anything with it. And don’t hit Square either. If you do that, your player will go for a standing tackle (and you’ll look like an idiot because you’ll be nowhere near the ball). Circle still slides, so there’s that.

R1 will now call over someone to help the tackling process. L2 will ‘jockey’ – allowing you to block the attacker’s path to goal with your body. If he sprints, you hold L2 and R1 to run alongside him. If you just hold R1, you’ll basically turn your back to him and he’ll cut inside, beating you easily. That’s the other thing about FIFA 12 – the AI has been improved MASSIVELY.

So what should you do with all of this information? Probably remap your controller, if you’re still playing FIFA. That will, at the very least, give you a head-start when everyone else buys FIFA on its first day of sale. Perhaps I was too easy to criticise Konami earlier, as i’m beginning to worry about this new control scheme. If the attackers are just too damn good, then it looks like you’ll be losing the ball faster than I lose phone numbers. Only time will tell on this one, and there’s no history to claim that it is repeating itself.

Instead, I leave you with the humble message to wait and see. As always, i’ll be back soon with another blog on the state of the game as we wait just two more months for the sweet, sweet nectar of brand new football video games. For now, keep checking up on the site as we give you the latest news as well as blogs – and be sure to tune in soon for the rundown of the top Pro Evo patches out there right now.