I’ve always been an advocate of realism in football games, whether it’s about events on the pitch or events off it; I’ve always wanted the real football world to be captured warts and all in a video game.
What we’ve been given this year with Career mode (pushing the bugs aside for just a minute) is a blank canvas regardless of which team you choose to manage. With the only real variable being the amount of money you have to spend or not spend as the case may be. But as football fans ourselves we all know that there is so much more to our clubs than just a transfer budget.
Take my beloved Manchester United for example, financially crippled by the owners business strategy, major unrest amongst the fans and rumours of takeovers spilling out of the tabloids at regular intervals. This is all happening in real life right now and Liverpool fans I’m sure will share my sentiments. So the questions are can EA’s Career Mode begin to reflect the real world and most importantly, should it?
There will be a section of the FIFA audience which will entirely disagree with some of the content of this article and with good reason. What a high majority of people will want from Career Mode is exactly as described above, a blank canvass. A mode they can mould as they see fit with all decisions and outcomes being of their own making. That’s all well and good but personally I’m looking for a bit more when it comes to my football management experience.
So if I launch my Career Mode with Manchester United I don’t want to stroll in to the office as the newbie put my feet up, consider how my thirty plus million transfer budget is going to be spent and then proceed to rattle off games by the dozen.
I should walk in to an absolute shit storm of fan unrest and financial difficulty with the only saving grace being the boys on the pitch. Where’s Sir Alex? Who’s this chump? Where is the club going? What’s the strategy? What’s happening with the ownership? For me as a fan that would evoke more emotion and will to succeed than any rose tinted view of my club Career Mode could fabricate.
That’s just one example of course, every club should be different. On the flip side Arsenal fans might take the job and find a tight transfer budget but they know the financial stability of the clubs future is secured. Their challenge would be settling the fans craving for silverware and dealing with their slowly wavering support of the Gunners youth policy.
These are the type of club by club nuances I want Career Mode to reflect and I’m only just scratching the surface here. The potential for this kind of detail is huge and EA should not over look it no matter how big and unworkable it may seem at first.
There is other side of the beautiful game however which at the moment Career Mode simply glides over and that’s the media. When it comes to crushing an aspiring young manager the English press in particular are masters of the art and I want to do battle with them.
Showing us stories about transfer rumours and player behaviour is one thing but allowing us to respond to them and then have our choice of words impact the game is something else entirely. Instead of me just reading the news in Career Mode, I want to be able to make it. If I want to tell the press I think Joey Barton is a thuggish lout before a game against Newcastle then I should be able to. Then if he leads his team to a 2-0 win having a hand in both goals I’ll be left eating my words.
If Real Madrid come knocking for Wayne Rooney, I want to be able to tell them in the politest of terms to “do one” in full view of the media glare. If that then affects my future dealings with Real then so be it, I made the decision, now I have to live with it.
I want to be able to play mind games with opposing AI managers who at the moment don’t have any discernable characteristics; in fact I’m not even sure they even exist at all. That alone gives Career Mode the feeling of being automated and simply back-end controlled. AI Managers should exist as real entities and should have their own set of personality and traits just like Fifa’s players do. What’s the point of me getting to the Champions League final against Real Madrid if I can’t do battle with Jose Mourinho pre match? Short answer, little, or none.
Image that though, before a huge Champions League final you sit down to the biggest press conference of your managerial career. Its make or break, show any sign of weakness and you could destroy the morale of your whole team before the final. These are the kind of memories that would stay with you throughout your game save and in an instant propel Career Mode from zero to hero without even kicking a ball.
You could build up rivalries and have running conflicts with managers and clubs you particularly detest. You could build up friendships with managers who you actually think are decent blokes and who you wouldn’t mind seeing do well. But go too far, shout your mouth off continually or befriend a rival and you might just find yourself on the end of a boardroom or fan backlash telling you to keep it shut and just manage the team. These kinds of managerial relationships and interactions have been a staple of the Football Manger series for years now and Career Mode needs them, badly.
The media aspect of football management is huge and FIFA needs to begin to reflect that or it will find itself being nothing more than a bland results engine with FIFA gameplay dividing up the calendar. Career Mode needs emotion, it needs feeling, it needs pressure and it needs to be real but most importantly the decisions you make need to have consequences.
To a certain extent Career Mode has to allow for some fantasy football elements to creep in, it does need to be fun to play after all. But the modes core needs to be focussed on replicating the real world. As a manager you live and die by your decisions and its time we were offered the same freedom in Career Mode.
As you might have guessed Career Mode is going to be a huge area of feedback for me this year and this is just the start. So hit the comments field and let me know what you think.