Something we’ve been repeatedly asked about is the online portion of FIFA 09. A lot of you who are still waiting to get hold of the game have asked what modes there are now and if things like button-lag and jerkiness of play have been ironed out now. So for you guys, here is a little review of the online gameplay.
The online section of the game has the following modes:
Ranked and unranked matches
Be A Pro Online Team Play
FIFA 09 Clubs
So what’s new? Well when you play a match now, you can choose to replay the opponent rather than just exit the game. This is great when playing friends – instead of having to invite them again, you can just select new teams (or the same teams of course) and play.
Also, everyone involved in a match has to vote to skip a replay – so if you want to watch a great shot or a great save, you can, without the opponent being able to skip it. This works really well, with most people choosing to skip things like poor efforts and cutscenes, and you get to see a replay of everything you want to see.
Be A Pro Online Team Play (where you play as a single footballer) is slightly different now, because you can have up to 10 players on each team. When playing with random people, it has to be said, it doesn’t really work very well; everyone runs after the ball like a schoolboy desperate for a kick of it. This might change after a month or two, when only the football purists (rather than the kids who are just playing for gamerpoints) are left, but as of now, it’s full of people who don’t seem to understand the idea of staying in position.
FIFA 09 Clubs though, isn’t like that. This is Be A Pro with a difference; you can start your own club (or join someone else’s), with up to 50 people being allowed in the squad. You get to know people and how they play, you can communicate with them and really learn how to win games with eachother – and if there’s someone who refuses to stay in position or play as a team member, you can kick them out of the club. When you get a good set of people it works incredibly well, in-fact it is as close to real football as you can get.
If less than 10 people are available, you can play as for example 5 v 7, with the CPU filling in the gaps. If there are considerably more than 10 people online at the same time (and obviously you can only have 10 outfield players in a game of football), you can play in different groups, still playing for the same club, with all of your results propelling your club up the rankings. The manager(s) (i.e. whoever set up the club) don’t have to be present for you to play a game.
I’ve only got one issue with FIFA 09 Clubs, and that’s lag – sometimes the game is as smooth as a whistle, but sometimes there is really bad lag, making the game unplayable. But that might be the servers, or it might be someone playing who has a terrible connection, so I don’t know where the blame lies for that. But my last few games have run smoothly, so it’s not something that is permanently broken.
Online Leagues are the same as before but with some great adjustments. You can now select a “playoffs” option, with one or two legs – although what this does exactly (i.e. how many teams it involves and what positions the teams involved have to be in) I can’t tell you because I’ve not finished an online league season yet! Also, you get more than just a league table now; you can pull up stats for every team in the league, view their players, and you can even look at the league’s top-scorer list to see which players are the ones banging the most goals in. I’ve noticed a bug with this – half of the players in the top-scorer lists I’ve seen have blank names, so you have no idea who they are. Hopefully this will be something that’s looked at in the FIFA 09 patch that’s due soon. There’s also the FIFA 08 bug (although it’s not really a bug, it’s just a very odd decision) where you can only choose to play each team an odd number of times, i.e. x1, x3, x5 etc., is still there. Perhaps there is a reason for this but I can’t think of one, and it’s annoying not to be able to play each team TWICE!
Interactive Leagues are the same as always; pick a top-flight team, play the games they play in real-life, and if enough people who have chosen that team beat their opposition enough times for that week, they “win” and get three points in the interactive league table.
Now that I’ve summarised the modes, I’ll say a quick word on the general connectivity (i.e. button-lag and jerkiness) that people are concerned about after the huge button-lag in FIFA 08 online.
It’s much improved over FIFA 08 but there is still a tiny bit of button-lag in certain situations, especially if there is lag as it is (e.g. if you’re playing someone from a far-away land). This is to be expected – it’s not like playing offline where the game can instantly register your button press, it has to be sent half-way across the world. But it is improved from FIFA 08, in my experience. I’ve not experienced horrible lag at any point (apart from Be A Pro, which is dealing with up to 20 connections at once).
As always, if you have any questions, please let us know and we’ll answer you as soon as we can!